Friday, April 30, 2010

Bike Girl Goes To The Races

Our fair protagonist has spent some time away from blogging to do some research. Bike Girl has gone deep undercover to infiltrate the world of women's bike racing. In order to fool the bike racing world into thinking she belongs, Bike Girl has had to undertake a strict training regimen that has allowed no time for updating her supporters of her findings.

One thing Bike Girl has noticed in race after race, is how the females of the species are typically relegated to the most undesirable race times. In one criterium, Bike Girl's category was sent off on the course before it had been fully set up.

In yet another criterium, when Bike Girl was sadly defeated by the peloton and lapped, the race announcer repeatedly made sexist comments as she passed. The worst of which was, "Everyone loves a woman who will go all the way." While Bike Girl was glad the announcer realized she was not planning to quit the race, she was still offended. She flipped off the announcer, thereby becoming the new crowd favorite.

In another criterium, all 4 women's categories were put on the course at the same time, with two minutes of separation in the starts. So as Bike Girl's category had one lap to go and started sprinting into position for the final straightaway, her field was neutralized to allow a faster group to pass through, even though that field had several more minutes of racing to do. Of course the women in Bike Girl's category did not want to cross the finish line without a sprint, so it ignored the neutralization. When the whole cluster of confused ladies crossed the line, thankfully avoiding multiple near crashes, the race organizer could not tell which women were in which category, and many of the results were contested.

In women's races, multiple categories often race together. So in order to upgrade from Women's Cat 4, a lady must not only be faster than the other 4's, but the 3's as well. The 3's are then allowed to sandbag, beating up on the 4's as long as they like. The 3's are also welcome to enter races that included Women's Cat 1-2 and 3. So three categories are on the course at the same time. These women can either upgrade to 2 by beating a bunch of 3's and 4's, or they can struggle to upgrade by beating the 1's.

Race organizers have also been cutting women's races left and right. The reason cited is, "No women show up." Well, after how they are treated at the races, it is no wonder they don't show up.

9 comments:

Sox said...

It all sounds very confusing. I'm glad you haven't given up.

George Rutherford said...

Wow, I'm sorry about your experiences, but happy you're back.

Bike Girl said...

Bike Girl's experience is not unique. It is typical of the female amateur racer, at least here in Southern California and in much of the U.S. If you want to make a change, write to your local race promoter, sign up some ladies to race, go to races and support ladies, and join clubs and teams that support racers of the fairer sex.

danceralamode said...

Great post. I've got my first triathlon out-of-state in July. It's just a C-Priority race, but I'm considering some bike races between that and my A-Priority race in October. Good to know what I'm up against.

It's so infuriating the treatment that we get, on the road and in races. We could at least be respected enough as competitors and paying registrants to have them organize the women's races properly.

Can't wait to hear more about your race experiences though. Thanks for fighting the good fight for women cyclists everywhere!

Rick said...

Sorry to hear about your experiences, Bike Girl. I often hear sexist comments, too.

If you can enter them, the collegiate SoCal races have a *much* more pleasant atmosphere than the "Elite" races (at least in the men's categories).

I don't think I agree that the women's races are relegated to the most undesirable times, though. This is my first year of racing, but it's been my experience that the Women's Cat X usually leave right before or after the Men's Cat X. Part of the problem might be that beginning racers (Women's Cat 4 and Men's Cat 5) do get the most undesirable times. One of the best parts of my D->C and 5->4 upgrades was getting to sleep in.

On that note, are you sure you have to win races to upgrade 4->3? At least for men, the 5->4 upgrade is automatic on completing 10 mass starts.

Rick said...

Uff, I didn't mean to sound so negative in my last comment! Hope you'll keep racing and telling us how it goes!

Velouria said...

Jesus, what a disgrace. Just another reason to choose cycling alone and making up my own challenges. Sad though.

sparky said...

You are super brave! I am too shy about doing a local time trial, even though I signed up to USA cycling. Are you going to do the Manhattan Beach race this Sunday?

Bike Girl said...

Sparky,

Bike Girl will not be at the MB Grand Prix. She is sadly quite out of shape. She may or may not choose to enter Brentwood next month.