The latest women’s racing brouhaha is a recycled version of a problem that has been around for as long as women have raced. The last time it raised its head in SoCal bike racing was 2012, when Chris Lotts temporarily abolished women’s racing categories at his CBR races after more than a decade of money-losing poor attendance.
I covered most of the bases back then and am too tired to go out and run around them again. If you want to see the back-and-forth, here’s the link.
At that time I suggested that there was plenty of money among women racers, bike clubs, bike shops, bike manufacturers, and myriad players in the bike industry to put up money for events. In the last four years I haven’t seen that happen. Instead, I’ve seen smaller races with less turnout and less money for men and for women.
In 2015, rather than wait for the landscape to change, I decided to “be the change I wanted to see.” So, since August of last year I’ve put up the following cash primes:
- $4,000 for two CBR races in 2015.
- $2,500 for one CBR race in 2016.
- $1,000 for one SamBarn road race in 2016.
- $2,000 for the Adrenaline Twilight Grand Prix in 2016.
- $2,000 for the Carlsbad Grand Prix in 2016.
I don’t know if this makes me the biggest cash sponsor of amateur bike racing in California, but I do know this: The promoter in every one of these races agreed to distribute the cash primes equally between women’s and men’s races. If the Men’s 1/2/3 race got six $50 cash primes, so did the women.
For the upcoming Adrenaline Twilight Grand Prix in San Diego on July 16, the cash primes are going to be distributed as follows:
- Women’s Pro/1/2: $50.00 x 6 cash primes
- Men’s Pro 1/2/3: $50.00 x 6 cash primes
- Men’s Cat 4: $50.00 x 6 cash primes
- Men’s Cat 3: $50.00 x 6 cash primes
- Women’s Cat 3/4: $50.00 x 6 cash primes
- Masters 35+: $50.00 x 5 cash primes
- Masters 45+: $50.00 x 5 cash primes
For the Carlsbad Grand Prix on July 17, the breakdown is:
- Women’s P/1/2: $50 x 10 cash primes
- Men’s P/1/2/3: $50 x 10 cash primes
- Men’s Cat 3: $50 x 5 cash primes
- Men’s Cat 4: $50 x 5 cash primes
- Women’s Cat 3/4: $50 x 5 cash primes
- Men’s 45+: $50 x 5 cash primes
In the overall scheme of things this isn’t a lot of money, and if everyone with a stake in the bike race game were to make a small contribution, cash payouts would be consistent across races, turnout would increase over time, races would be profitable because promoters wouldn’t have to sweat attendance, and women wouldn’t feel like they’re being punished for racing their bikes.
Is it going to take a few years? Sure. But if you’re looking for a great place to spread the word about your business, you love bike racing, and you believe in equality, it’s worth it.
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