Where are all the women?
December 11, 2012 § 70 Comments
Chris Lotts recently (as in a few hours ago) pulled the plug on women’s 1-3 races in his local Southern California crits. His reason? For the last twelve years attendance in this category has been dismal. The extra category, as a money loser, has cost him about $5k per year, and he’s tired of losing the money when he could be filling the time with additional men’s races.
The response was swift and fairly clear. People either supported Chris’s right to make whatever business decision he needed to make, or they castigated him for further reducing the opportunity for women’s racing to expand.
The case for Chris
In its simplest formulation, promoting amateur bike races isn’t a charity, though anyone who’s done it will swear that it sure looks like one. Profit margins are usually loss margins after all the bills are paid. Headaches are legion. Whiny, complaining bicyclists act like prima donnas entitled to NFL star treatment, never mind that it’s their fourth Cat 5 race ever.
More to the point, after doing this for twelve years and continually offering the 1-3 category to women, Chris can say definitively that it’s a money loser, that he’s invested as much as he wants to invest, and that until something in the attendance dynamic changes, he’s using the slot to provide races for the people who are hungry to race and willing to pay.
As Chris likes to say, “If I was a restaurant and decided to stop selling goulash because it was the biggest money loser on my menu, no one would give a damn except the three people who like goulash. And even they would understand that it’s a business and I have to make money.”
To put an even finer point on it, Chris’s response is that people who would prefer a bigger, more robust, more enthusiastic environment for women racers should go put a few on and “watch the dump trucks of cash roll up to their door.” His obvious point is simple. There are 52 weekends a year, and anyone passionate enough to promote women’s racing should go out and do it.
His underlying point is not so simple. Women’s racing is poorly attended and it’s not his job to make it well attended.
The argument against
And in this corner, in the pink trunks, are men and women who think that the restaurant analogy fits poorly. Why? Because the decision to cut the goulash doesn’t disproportionately affect women. It’s gender neutral, whereas the decision to reduce the total number of women’s races to one makes women’s racing less than a second-class citizen and more like a tenth-class citizen.
The other problem is that Chris’s arguments are the same ones raised by opponents to Title IX back in the day, when male-dominated sports programs claimed that the absence of women athletes was due to women not wanting to play rather than to the absence of teams, fields, buses, equipment, coaches, and athletic budgets. Once the money flowed into collegiate women’s sports, athletic participation blossomed.
Women and men who have been through the gender wars know that the first club that the Neanderthals pull of the towsack, whether it’s job promotion, college admission, or athletic participation, is that “Women just can’t get their shit together to come out and [fill in the blank]. They just don’t wanna.”
The other argument is that Chris’s job is not just to make money. It’s also to encourage participation and increase the size of the sport for men and for women. His races are some of the biggest and most popular in Southern California, and they are the default race for countless LA riders who want a quick, safe, convenient, professionally run race in their own backyard.
In short, when Chris cuts out a women’s category, it’s felt on a much larger scale than when done by a smaller promoter who may only do one race per year. As a result, the argument goes, he has an obligation to go the extra mile, even if it costs him.
So who’s right?
Chris clearly has the stronger argument when looking at the number of years he’s offered this racing category and when looking at his right to make a buck. Indefinitely supporting an event that’s a money loser when it’s your money being lost makes no sense unless you’re engaged in philanthropy or are spending taxpayer dollars.
Those opposed to dropping the 1-3 races have the stronger argument when they point to Title IX. You can’t increase women’s participation by reducing their opportunities to race.
Rather than raising the fist of either party in victory, I’d suggest that both are right, but that the solution lies outside of Chris’s weekend crit series. Bike racers are lucky to have Chris Lotts in their backyard, promoting races for over a decade both on the weekend and, until this year, during the week as well. If the decisions he makes keep him in business, then more power to him. If the decisions he makes reduce racing for any given category, well, go organize a race and see if you can get people to attend. It’s not as easy as it looks, and it looks fiendishly difficult.
The bigger problem of “Where are all the women racers?” is affected by Chris’s decision somewhat, but I’d maintain that it’s not his job to solve the problem all by himself. As Title IX proved, increased participation and development of women athletes takes time, mentoring, and money. Especially money.
So where’s all the money?
I’m agog at the number of women cyclists in Southern California. Some local bike shops have entire squads of hobby cyclists composed exclusively of women. One of them, the PV Biker Chicks, has over 150 billion regular riding members.
Racing squads like Helen’s and LaGrange also sport large contingents of women riders, and the unaffiliated women riders who you can see at all hours of the day in all the usual cycling venues testify further to the strong financial support that underlies women’s participation in cycling.
What all this doesn’t translate into, though, is women bike racers of the 1-3 categories. Leaving aside for the moment that blowing snot rockets and farting on the bike at 30 mph while bumping bars through a turn doesn’t fit the traditional definition of feminine, it seems to me that the problem is no different from the problems faced by women’s collegiate sports before Title IX.
What if, instead of pounding away at Chris (which I’ll admit is fun), those interested in expanding women’s racing fully funded two or three new women’s categories in the CBR crit series? The venue’s already there. The organization’s already in place. The teams and clubs already have the riders and the budgets.
Best of all, it would be much cheaper and easier to integrate additional women’s categories into an existing, established race than to go out and promote a new one. This, of course, is where the rubber meets the road. Where money talks, and bullshit walks. Where cliches are so numerous they have to queue up in order to get mentioned.
If the people and entities who vocally support women’s crit racing want to see it grow, they should offer to fund some of these races within the CBR framework. The worst that could happen is that it would fail for thirteen years in a row rather than just twelve.
The best is that, with some real skin in the game (cliche, check!), the clubs and organizations would start pushing harder to develop their riders and get them to show up and enter races. It would be…(cliche drumroll…)
I appreciate the wisdom on both sides of the issue. I have no problem with including any category so long as I don’t consistently lose money. That race flyer is a civil contract and if it rains and no one shows, bills still get paid. I’ve designed it so that any home run I hit absorbs a crap day; nothing everything I own relies on just one race day.
What’s frustrating is that everyone talks about supporting this & that but not much beyond the talk. You’re right, after 12 years of consistently getting kicked in The Jimmy, I’m done with fields not pulling their own weight. I’ll build it if they come; conversely, I’ll also tear it down & replace if they don’t. That being said, if the funding finds its way to cover their costs, I’ll bring the W1-3 back and they will start the day’s event at 7am.
I appreciate that you’re out promoting races. Now let’s have a group hug. Only please bathe first.
I’ve always believed that women’s sports require equal funding in order to thrive. That’s not the responsibility of the promoter, especially after doing it for so many years. Once people are asked to fork over hard cash to support their “passion,” we quickly see that those passions are not necessarily convictions.
I know there is money in the clubs and businesses to cover the “promoter’s gap” for these races. I know there are individuals who have the money to sponsor a race category for an entire season. I know there are promoters who would gladly have the categories if it didn’t mean taking it in the shorts (again).
So, let’s figure out what the actual dollar amount is to make this work, make it transparent, let the people on all sides of the round table pitch in, and (can’t resist this cliche) git ‘er done.
‘nothing’ = ‘not’
What we did in Holland, when there were not yet many women racing, was to let ‘m race with say cat 4 or 5 men, or juniors/cadets… Sometimes there were only 10 or so, but they got to race. And now we have fully stocked women packs and a couple of all women pro teams ! Then the different categories (here it’s age, rather than 1, 2 or 3) also race combined and nice fields are racing every week !
Opportunities to race + money = participation.
This all sounds so familiar. A friend tried doing an all women’s bike mag and it lasted two issues even though you would think a pub absent the “art of shaving your legs” articles would be appealing. Why not just do a probationary period. Either the registration is at a suitable level a week before the race or they move on to more interesting categories. How about something like Cat 4 53+ with a BMI over 25 and non-winners of a race in 4 years…..that would fill up in about 4 hours and somehow, someone would win (like me).
Ideas are fine. Where’s the money?
Why not Women’s 1-4?
4’s don’t want to race with 1-3’s, and vice versa.
I agree with this. Yeah, it is very apparent that there are many levels of riders but won’t that just make the women 4 riders stronger and become more of a skilled rider. Especially if they are racing and learning from the top quality women racers that we have in Southern California.
Growing up in Texas many of the races that we had were Women Open races and through out the race the natural separation happened. If you were a strong 3/4 you hung in with the 1/2’s and if you weren’t… well you trained harder to be one of the girls that hung in!
I support the idea of having all the women racers race together, especially if it means we get to race.
Never bothered me when I was a 4 and if you’re a 1/2 or 3 and concerned about sketchy riders, stay in the front. It’s imperfect, but better than kicking the 1/2’s.
I don’t disagree…
here on the east coast the woman have been gravitating to cyclocross (as have many of the lower cat men) – we see this as a great way to grow the sport and then, if they are so inclinded, offers a better transition onto the road – historicaly it has gone the other way without success. As for women only fields – I say combine them with the men’s 4-5 and/or juniors – i’;ve riden with many female cyclists who mix it up on the hard group rides, and handle themselves quite well in 3/4 and men’s fields at the training races –
Races + $ + mentoring = participation
I think part of the problem is that there may not be leadership within the women’s clubs to support and help young women jump into racing. It is intimidating to jump into a bike race, especially without any mentoring or helpful support. In CO, a good friend of mine started a club that was women only and the only requirement, besides riding safely, was to try a race. As the club grew, so did the race team, and it helped build women’s racing in the Front Range. We had clinics on cornering and drafting and race tactics and ladies who were racing at Cat 1-2, ride and mentor those in cat 4. Yes, a promoter gave us some races, but they began to fill and it has now taken care of itself. I say, look to the clubs to promote and foster racing!
Just ask and you shall receive!
I will be more than happy to speak with young women who are intimidated about racing but want to start racing.
I started racing when I was 10 years old and have had my fair share of racing experiences and getting young racers involved in the sport.
Email me: email@example.com
I sure hope people take you up on this generous offer.
There is a need for systematic, organized mentoring of women riders.
Just like men, they need to be encouraged to go out and race. There are lots of guys who “race” but who somehow always find excuses on race day not to show up. The fact is that bike racing is stressful and anxiety-producing for many, particularly (but by no means exclusively limited to) those who are new to the sport. It’s not a gender thing. It’s a “Oh hell I hope I don’t crash” thing.
Just like men, women need a peer group that will push them to race on race day. That can be a coach, fellow rider, team member (male and female), or other person who encourages the rider to be a racer.
What about a buddy list where more experienced racers, men and women, make a round of phone calls to the women racers they know the week before a given race, and encourage their friends to show up? Maybe it’s sharing a ride, or maybe just an “Attagirl, let’s do this” type phone message. I’ve been dragged along to races by sheer force of encouragement a/k/a peer pressure, and some of those events have been awesome.
Putting the chicks in with the (rhymes with chicks, but means men) historically freaks out the chicks. You put them in with the Men 5s or the 4s and the boys are squirrelly and bigger and stuff, and the the girls DO NOT COME BACK.
Been there, seen that.
We have the same problem with road races in SoCal. Still offering the Womyn their own fields, sow e hope to see some this year. Yeah, it is a losing proposition financially.
I don’t have anything useful to add here, just didn’t want you to feel ignored. Good post, tho. I hope everybody wins!
Wow, feeling the love. Now, go get a life.
I hope it works out, too. Thanks.
Reluctance to risk getting maimed and disfigured in a high speed crash
And, bike racing is ~competitive~ . You typically get yanked by race officials if you’re “not in contention” — whereas weekend “hobby jogger” 5k and 10K runs are not (really) competitive
Surely these are factors why turnout for women bike racing is generally low, whereas it’s generally high for non-competitive “fun” rides, like centuries.
I totally disagree. Women show the same appetite for tough, competitive, high risk sports as men provided they are properly introduced to it. These are the same arguments that people used to prevent women from playing full-court basketball, and the overt message is that “You’re not tough enough, physically or mentally.”
No man would thrive in football if, at age six, he were thrown into a high school full contact game. He’d likely not live through it.
Women have got to have a level playing field in terms of their introduction to the sport, their encouragement to participate in it, venues to race, and money. As Dorothy Wong has pointed out, it’s a multi-faceted series of requirements. As Chris has pointed out, the promoter’s job is to promote the race, not teach everyone how to race and grow the local clubs.
Women have proven time and time again that they will compete just as fiercely, take their knocks just as stoically, and do battle with a great competitive lust as long as the process is done right and is properly supported.
you act as if men receive gift bags, complimentary massages and sag support when they sign up for a cat 5 race. But they don’t — I distinctly remember drudging my way through the lower cats for months on end, paying $25 to race for 25 minutes shortly after the sun rose despite the risk to life and limb posed by the hordes of maniacal novices who were my competitors. Race promoters screw over the 5s as hard as they can because they know the races will still fill no matter how bad they make it. It’s a battle royale where only the fittest (craziest) survive.
So how can you say that men have support? Money—the 5s are fleeced like no other. Encouragement—I started out on a team that was systematically persecuted by larger teams and by the officials for being small, new and different. The rest of my team abandoned the sport before getting to cat 3. 1 in 10 is not a very good retention rate. Venues—I’ll give you that. The venues do follow the money.
There is significant empirical support for the school of thought that maintains that all bike racing is a form of despicable scumbaggery.
BTW: it’s PV Bike Chicks (not ‘Biker’ chicks) and we have not seen a flyer about local races except the time trials that the PV Bicycle Center puts on (which are free.) Some of us race, but some of us have aerobars which our gears change from, trying to figure out how to do that.) Many of our riders like the friendships rather than racing and some have kids and can only ride on weekdays when the kids are in school. Technical difficulties. Another concern is purchasing the annual racing license. Good luck in your races.
I see PV Bike Chick members all over the Hill and environs. If the club would like to have a couple of local women racers come by to talk about racing (road, track, mtb, or ‘cross) let me know!!
I hear the PV Biker Chicks are nice, too. They ride Harleys. 🙂
Our club’s average age is somewhere north of 50, but we do have a couple of younger gals, at least one of which just joined a “team” and hopes to start racing this year. I’ll try to find out if there’s interest in having someone discuss racing – we may have a few here and there – but as metioned above, we are indeed pretty much a squad of cycling hobbyists.
Even one new racer is a welcome addition!
Women ride bikes??…..No wonder that guy with the beautiful long flowing hair, stomping my dick to smithereens looked so damn good! Thanks, I feel better now.
I have been in and out of comptitive cycling as a woman …I’ve medalled some and have promoted the sport and never made a penny. I’ve spent a large amount of money on the sport …and it’s a fun sport. Women want and need the support and encouragement of the men, and we need our own training time with positive minded coaches who really get that safety is first.
We take a lot of hazing…
We are most often not welcome to share the field…it is very clear they want us to be stand about volunteers and not race participants….
Despite being an excellent athletes which many of us are, we are rarely taken seriously because we want to train like women…not like men…
Actual training workouts for conditioning would be best done with all women as the men seem to get outlandishly competitive with the females in the training field…
it’s not condusive to safety or training collaboratively…I’m not comfortable with a slew of men on the field…
In the 13 years I’ve been more seriously involved…I’ve seen support for women’s racing diminish terribly…the older we are the better prepared we are to handle all the challenges and yet the lack of support has continued to escalate over the years…they want more and more money only…I’ve promoted for years and still do FOR FREE…and have yet to recieve recognition or support from the male racers…
It’s respect and the necessay funds to race and train that we all need in the women’s cycling. I assume we ALL know that S.CAL is the one state that has failed misably at TITLE 9 or am I the only one watching the reports??? Are you guys up to the challenge?
For the most part here in SoCal we devolve into bitter personality disputes and then wonder why no one wants to get involved.
Your points are excellent.
Venues+ mentoring + $ = participation
Thanks for posting.
cyclesunshine. your points are certaily legit and your efforts to encourage and promote appreciated. I will venture to say however that the barriers that you mention (hazing, not welcome in the field, not taken seriously, no structured training rides) are not exclusinve to woman but apply to both men and woman that make the transition from recreational to competative riding – in my 10+ years I have seen many male riders try and not return.. a few keep coming back, develop confidence and compitance, find their place and become accepted in the bunch… that is the process we ALL go through.
Not everyone. People get started with a group of friends get eased into it. One local rider, Jay LaPlante, did his first crit on Sunday. He began riding with us on the NPR, joined Big Orange, and was not harassed or hazed at all except for the weekly beatdowns on the rides that everyone suffered from. He enjoyed it so much that he got a license and signed up for a race and plans to do more. We need that experience to be the norm.
I completely agree with you that the traditional approach of “eat the beginners” is what most people had to go through, though.
I did my first race in 1984 because of friends, a welcoming group, and a good training partner in the form of Jeff Fields who advised me that no matter how much I sucked, lots of people would suck more. He was right!
So when were you last a female? Trust me the hazing IS NOT THE SAME. Your post makes a salient point as to WHY the ladies are absent. We wish to be treated with respect as ladies/women. However it is your choice and your point of view of equal opportunity to engage in poor training and race behavior because we “ALL” go through this?
It detracts from the sports and morale of the atheletes motivation, diminishes good sportmanship and does not build confidence… in particular for most women. This ad hoc type of hazing isn’t good for anyone. And I can assure you it is not only in year one that this occurs.
Thanks for listening but the way I see it, we still need to support women of all ages and all levels in sports, i.e. cycling. That will take good psychology, training, motivation, money and phyical maintaince programs. Yes, it’s a tall order.
A positive minded winner in cycling usually will not stay in an unhealthy environment because we have the option to leave and enjoy life. Thus so many women leave the competitive field.
libs – I’m not saying I endorse the equal hazing, place earning, poor training model, I’m just saying that the experience isn’t exclusive, i am sure the experience is different, but not exclusive – anyway you slice it the road (crit) scene is nasty business – i’ve ridden along with some pretty accomplished woman racers – they are tough and meanon the bike – here on the east coast we are finding cross as a great transition – cross possess much of the atmosphere of rec riding – encouraging, fun to watch, not as dangerous, riden more as an individual than dependent on the behavior of the group -et al – anyone (male or female) who says “how do I get into racing” we tell them try cross first – then – if road (crit) racing calls those folks are *familiar in the bunch, have a good flling for the speeds and efforts required, more confience and better bike handling – then the road/crit experience isn;t as harsh (*very important in the pack- male or female- unfamiliar riders are treated with caution – to put it charitably)
Agreed about ‘cross. I did my first races this year and was amazed at how…friendly…they were. Also, once you’re shelled you can just wank along…my specialty, in fact.
People will have to chime in with their own experiences, but here in the South Bay there’s a pretty strong ethos of accepting and mentoring. We yell when people show up with their stupid hats, but it’s always quickly forgiven and the general tone is accept-mentor-encourage. Proof of that is Big Orange, whose mentor-to-race model has doubled or tripled the size of their club this past year alone. Their newbies ride strong and many are newly christened racers.
We old schoolers have accepted for too long the notion that road racing has to be a cannibalistic beatdown, a vicious blooding that winnows out the weak from the strong from the crazy from the psychotic to the end goal of “bike racer.” It’s a failed model where people have access to the Internet, and it’s a particularly failed model with respect to women and juniors. One of the posters here pointed out how badly Cat 5 men are abused by promoters, and lamented how few survive after even the first few races.
Those who make it are certainly more hardened, but are they better racers? Does it make the sport better? Does it create an atmosphere of inclusiveness or snarling, callused, up-yours bad-assedness. I think I know the answer to that.
Cross is a great contrast. The good riders rip your legs off, but somehow it’s (sort of) safe and not as aggro.
Those are qualities we could import to the road without making it the nasty Snotrocket City affair it currently is. Of course, I’m already nostalgic for the bad old good old days!
We need concrete steps to fill the equation of Mentoring + money + race venues = Participation. Not just by women, but by everyone. The fact that road racing is a blast and that it can be a huge participatory draw is proven by the success of masters racing. Chris had 100 guys in one of his 50+ crits this past season. He’s doing something right. There’s something about crit racing that’s fun. There’s gotta be a way to spread the love. Gotta be.
Whoever the hell you are, Joey, I very much appreciate your taking the time to chime in, especially with an East Coast perspective. It’s helpful, very.
I agree it is one of the best outdoor sports anyone any age can engage in, and when you can do that with your friends and community in collaboration…well it just doesn’t get any better. Rubber side down….we can do this.
IMHO (as they say) – there is a fundamental characteristic to the road/crit racing experience that is a barrier to entry for both men and women. it is an unwavering necessity for interdependence that is not required for tri, TT, mt bike, running even cross (which is why those areas are supportive and nurturing and see growth while the road niche shrinks). In upper category racing you are dependent at all times on what the other the competence of the racers. one small mistake on someone else part may cost you your race, not necessarily anything as dramatic as a crash but just a guy being in the wrong gear at the start of a climb, or opening a gap when things are strung out – i;m not taking about cat 4/5 riding around in circles chasing every break and waiting for sprint racing – I;m talking lined out and bleeding from the eyes to just hold a wheel racing – WM you know what I mean. this interdependence causes riders to be suspicious of unknown and/or less adept riders and very impatient with OTJT. that said – training rides, club membership, mentoring – all that is great – we have a community here in the mid-atlantic with strong rider development – both male and female – but when numbers are pinned and shoes are buckled there’s really no room for “motivation” and “support” and “encouragement ” there is survival at best and maybe, on a good day, with a little luck – glory. remember – these discussions are going on every list serve in every district in every state in the US – expectations need align with time proven outcomes.
Wow. Well said.
I’m with Lotts. The problem isn’t the lack of money. It’s the lack of women. And before you all grab your pitchforks, and torches, it’s the same thing we see here in NY. No women. Lots ride, few race. Fewer still get it together for an event in their own backyard. If you are going to try to strongarm someone into promoting womens’ cycling, make if the women on bikes, not the guys setting up races.
The guys setting up are not the problem except that most women have less discretionary income to spend on expensive sports. Additionally it would be great to have all the men setting up who really get the need for the sports culture to support women in the sport with good manners, attitudes and goodsports-womanship:) Lotts has a legitimate business position. I’ve been offering to reveal those aspects that do not support his efforts, but instead encourage women to connect and be present at the opportunity Lotts presents financiallly and organizationally. The culture, attitudes, and psycology can either diminsh or augment depending on the behavior of the groups as a whole.
Agreed. And if it weren’t for Chris and the people who put on the races, it would all be a moot point anyway.
That’s why I think it’s important to support Chris’s efforts and not get sidetracked by the personality issues, which loom large.
Is the race well organized?
Then we should support it, and “support” includes helping figure out ways to increase the participation of women.
This is just a restatement of the problem, and not a clear one. The problem is lack of money caused by women choosing not to race, which leads back to the question of “Why don’t more women race?”
The answer is the same in every jurisdiction: Women demand a certain type of indoctrination before they will assume the risks associated with crit racing. If the clubs/teams aren’t willing to provide that indoctrination, women won’t participate. Over and over women tell us that they’re interested in racing, but they’re not going to plunge in head-first.
Chris and other promoters make a big deal about being in business, but if they’re trying to attract women consumers, they’re going to have to listen to the customer, as are the clubs and teams who pay lip service to wanting more women involved in the sport. Your statement that few women “get it together” is the kind of pejorative language that women (and this man) perceive as demeaning and condescending. Women can have a perfectly fun and satisfying time riding their bikes with clubs, friends, and solo, and in order for them to race they need to be catered to just like any other customer.
The catering has to be done by the promoter who wants them to attend, by the club that wants them to race, and by the sponsor who wants them to represent the brand/product. One size doesn’t fit all. Check your nearest Target for bra sizes if you don’t believe me.
So what you are saying, in effect, is that for a promoter to have a woman’s field, not only does he (or she) have a race, a tremendous exercise in an of itself, but also has to hold clinics, classes, seminars, training sessions, skill days, and likely more just to get women to maybe sign up and he can maybe break even.
You’ll have to pardon me if I call horsepuckey.
Thats the job of the local cycling association, cycling clubs, or the LBS’s that cater to these people as clients, atmo.
Secdon, a 3,2,1 race isn’t hand holding time. If you tell me that the problem is a lack of skills clinics and CAT 4 women’s turnout, thats another story…not in a 3,2,1 event.
There are also those promoters that do this, and still lose money on ladies fields. As for prize money, and equal rights, there are promoters that even do THAT and they still get crappy turnouts that do not meet their expectations or financial goals for their events. (read, not lose money).
Also, the statement you list as pejorative, is actually completely true given my locale. I’m without explanation, but after throwing money at ladies fields for years in brooklyn, our promoter is no longer holding womens events. Why? because the women that live in manhattan are unwilling to ride the 4 miles to a ladies event, and we constantly lose money on their fields, when we could break even or make money on an additional cat 4 mens field.
I’m not saying that those things are the job of the promoter. They’re things that have to be done if women are going to participate in races. They’re the responsibility of whomever wants women’s participation and/or race dollars.
Promoters don’t “have” to do anything. Anyone who knows squat about road cycling knows that race promotion is hard, thankless, and cursed with small-to-nonexistent profit margins.
The question, of course, is “Why do they refuse to ride four miles to the event?” If you were in business, and you wanted their business, you’d move heaven and earth to answer that question. I’m not disputing that women don’t race, but that sheds no light on anything.
Women have been telling us why they don’t race: They aren’t brought into it properly. They’re more cognizant of risk and want that addressed. They’re willing to race the same courses under the same conditions, but they want preparation. You can laugh at it, look down on it, complain that you did it “old school” or explain it any way you like, but from a business perspective it’s not the customer’s job to make the right product. It’s the seller’s.
If the seller doesn’t want that customer, fine. In the case of women’s cycling, he certainly won’t get her. If the seller does want that customer, he’s going to have to determine the root cause of her unwillingness to buy his product. That may entail more work than it’s worth. It may require the participation of others who cannot/will not bring their piece of the puzzle to the table.
Other sports have figured out how to involve women. Tennis. Running. Yoga. Spinning. Swimming. Triathlon. ‘Cross. MTB.
Apparently it can be done, but it has to be done differently.
Well said. It’s not about saints, bra sizes and jock straps. It’s about a safe desirable positive experience for a group who responds to balance, equinimity, inclusiveness, and meeting the needs of the customer…
And then who goes out and stomps!
Ummm……yoga and spin class arent competitive sports…. triathlon appeals to all affected with ocd regardless of gender..
Not sure either example is pertinent to the case at hand. It sounds like your saying female cyclists need to be coddled along, with extra course inspection, and soft mood music and flavored candles. Oddly enough the women i know that race sort of enjoy being treated the same as everyone else
If he has to cancel his ladies event due to lack of numbers , so be it. The notion that a promoter should
Tennis? Running? Bodybuilding? Weightlifting? Swimming? Gymnastics? Basketball? Softball? MTB? ‘Cross?
Triathlon is winning when it comes to women’s involvement. Who wouldn’t want that?
I reject that different approaches are coddling, which is a pejorative and doesn’t describe what many women have asked for. They accept the same races and the same conditions and, if anything, want events that are just as long and hard as the men’s events. What they want is a safer, less aggressive, more nurturing entry into racing. Why can’t that be done? Why can’t women define what they want and how they want to enter the sport? Why do guys have the right to castigate their desires as coddling? To the contrary, if we’re going to degenerate into namecalling, why not describe the “male” approach as brainless and vicious and stupid?
No one denies that Chris can and should cancel his race if, after twelve years, it’s still losing money.
The question is how can we help him keep the category and at the same time build participation? ‘Cross does it. Tennis did it. Women cycling in Holland did it. We can too. And we should.
So much useless drivel to add. However, since my pc took a shit I will save my tablet from the incessant tapping and succinctly restate the title with this:
Tom (re: getting pulled),
Any idea how many racers got pulled at Lotts’ last race this past weekend? ZERO. NONE. As far as I can tell, he does a pretty great job of giving everybody the same positive treatment. Tuf-Luv and all that.
Chris is so charitable, he doesn’t even pull me. Now that’s Mother Teresa-level charity.
Chris is so charitable, he doesn’t even pull me. Now that’s Mother Teresa-level charity.
Errrmmmmm…yeah, they don’t usually pull guys in the top ten, right?
10/14/2012 – USAC Upgrade Points & Resume Builder Criterium Series
8 163.02 Seth Davidson xxxxxxx SPY Giant
That was my double.
Also be liable to offer this to attract women that are in his area presumably riding for clubs or shops is insane. While you can say he is not selling his product to his customer bc hes offering them something they dont want is ridiculous. Hes offering a race to everyone, and selling lots. Is there a competing venue? Or another option? The job of the promoter is to provide a safe. Fun, challenging venue for all. He should be applauded for holding out this long
The job of the promoter is to make money. If he can make money with all men races, so be it.
This is a conversation for people who also want to see more women racers. It’s not Chris’s job to carry that load. He’s done it for twelve years. He’s been applauded, lauded, and commended by everyone who has even the faintest idea of what race promoting is about.
But you’re missing the point about business/customer. If–and it’s an “if”–a bike race promoter wants women participants, he’s going to have to create a product they want to buy. They won’t create it for him and it’s not their job to.
If the promoter doesn’t care, or if his categories are already full, or if he’s losing his shorts, or if there are too many moving parts, or if he just doesn’t like promoting women’s races, that’s his prerogative. Those of us who want to see more women racing will have to figure it out for ourselves.
if you’re a promoter and want to make money – i’ll say it again – put on cross races (i know it sounds like i’m a big cross nut – i’m not – i like the road/crit scene and do some cross races that are close to home) but it does seem to me the answer to the participation (both men and woman) conundrum . I don;t know what it’s like in SOCO but look at the mid-atlantic cross races (MABRA Super 8 Series) DCCX in Wash DC – 900+ racers – men;s fields all full at 125 limits – womans fields – all categories at least 50 racers – Tacchino Cross (also MABRA Super – 8) again huge fields including Jeremy Powers in the 1/2/3 (he was a classy, gracious, and generous competitor) (and in town for a clinic) ..the growth is phenomenal – do other area’s see this same level of participation in cross?
Yes. ‘Cross turnout is monstrous in Northern California and swelling like a big, uh, redwood here in SoCal.
And thanks for taking the time to comment–
Did I miss something in those 55 comments? What is the additional per race infusion that would be required to keep the Women 1-3 field viable? The clubs and race oriented shops could be given an opportunity to keep it alive while they create some more customers.
I don’t have any numbers, but the junior fields look promising.
$4,500 for the year. We already have $800 committed.
Here’s the question. Your responses leave me with the impression taht there are legions of able bodied licensed female racers sitting this event out every week. True? Because they are so jaded by his approach to the sport, or perhaps the approach that they were given into the sport… but…stick with the sport anyway and just don’t show up to the race and instead sit on their couch?
It’s a 3,2,1 race. I have no idea what this “safe, nurturing ” introduction to racing is, (note I’m not saying coddling) but would love to hear your definition. But it’s a 3,2,1 race. Thats not an introduction by any means. Shit, if anything it’s a meat grinder with semi/retired pro’s and rank amateurs.
We all want to see more people on bikes. Male and female. But the theory that the promoter is doing something wrong by cancelling a consistently un profitable field after over a decade is ridiculous. And again, I point out, that it is not his job to introduce people to the sport in the fashion you suggest. It’s his job to run a race.
re cross. I’m not sure about the growth of cross racing. I think ti has more to do with perceived safety. Seriously. Cross even done poorly is effectively an excuse to throw up in your own mouth. But.. it’s safer to fall on mud?
A few reflections based on the preceding text(s):
-Competitive cyclists are very much like actors(not to disparage actors). Their focus is narrow and inward. It’s the nature of the sport. But it’s an antithetical mindset to what is needed to “grow the competitive cycling community” which demands an outward, “big picture”, “we hang together or we’ll hang separately” perspective. This problem has plagued the pro peloton for decades and the reason the AIGCP still has no influence. I’ve seen that first-hand. So we see that the “problem” is not one minor race promoter here or there; it’s global and “cultural”. One work-around is to stop seeing your teammates as competition off the bike and start working together to put on your own “micro-races”. Example: The Old School Club Races up Mulholland: more fun than you’ll ever have in a business park, and ten times harder(Hey Casper, it’s time for another one!). You don’t need a finish line camera and worthless schwag to have a race… Invite a couple of other teams to your micro-race staged at a secret location in the Santa Monica Mountains and then all go out for a low-glycemic lunch together afterward. Emphasis on TOGETHER. Strength in numbers/bonding = greater influence. No one person can solve the problem. Collectively you can move mountains much larger than one local race. The Olympic Games started as competitions between Greek City-States, regional competitions, if you will. Look what happened there. There are many bike racing options. You just have to look outside of yourself to see them…
If you want trophies; go to your local trophy shop. They invariably have a large collection of unclaimed trophies covered with dust. You can get them for pennies on the dollar and hand them out at your “post-miro-race-lunch”. Guaranteed more fun than a bottle of chain lube.
Post note: I took my race points to the bank for safe keeping and they gave me a blank stare…
-Crash 5 Racing: If you think the women aren’t “brought into the sport properly” go watch the men cat 5’s(or 4’s, or 3’s, et al.) at CBR. It would be entertaining for a blind person, ie: the sound of shattering carbon and scraping aluminum. So that’s a mute point. From years of observation, no one is brought into the sport properly. “Ride Safe” is not a useful admonishment for a first-time racer. There are the fortunate and the unfortunate. USAC refuses address the issue although it has been laid at their doorstep many times(there are solutions that don’t cost anything). You’re only as safe as your sketchiest rider… The low-tech workaround: Talk to the riders around you during the opening laps. Familiarity breeds safer racing and eases the tension.
A parting thought, courtesy of Eric Hoffer, the Great American Writer/Philosopher/Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
A bit O.T. & FYI,
at 2013 Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, the womens P/1-3 race will very likely be upgraded to the NRC (or maybe it’s the NCC – Nat’l Crit Calendar). The mens P/1 at MBGP has been on the NRC/NCC for many years.
There should be a very good turnout of Pro womens race teams — should be even more competitive & exciting. Also a significant increase in the prize money.
That’s huge, and very ON topic. Thanks, Tom!
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