I love cyclocross, mostly because it was the first style of bike racing that I did 10+ years ago when there were 3 other women and only a few more men at a local race in New York. It was confusing, weird and dirty. Now, it’s kind of a big deal with a whole new generation of racers, organizers, companies and spectators. But let’s be clear: it’s still ‘American Bicycle Racing’ and struggling with the same problems that roadies and other disciplines face.
Problem #1 Development.
How do you get enough new people into the sport so that champions (and a packed field) can emerge? There’s a big backlash against USA Cycling, the governing body that determines things like points and status, from local race directors who create awesome events that get more people into the sport – but who can’t afford the crippling fees to be USA Cycling sanctioned. So racers have to choose to race ‘for the love’ or glory. There was a huge fall out when USA Cycling tried to ban anyone who raced in non-santion events in 2013. What a bunch of bullies! Roadblock from Midnight Ridazz/Wolfpack Hustle laid it out best in his response.
Problem #2 Equality.
Yep, it’s kind of embarrassing. A Brilliant illustration of this is found in Helen Wyman’s “Pressing the Equality Button” on Cycling News. Read it in its’ entirety.
So, personally in 2015, I don’t think there is an excuse for women not to be receiving the same minimum prize fund. If the minimum salary in a country was lower for women, there would be riots. If prize funds were different based on skin colour or sexual orientation, there would be riots. We don’t want to riot, we want to race. We just want equality.
What a way to kick off an event! It’s like Thanksgiving with extended family…
But, whenever bike drama comes up: it’s also easy to fall back on the immediate joy of the moment: being on a bike, turning yourself inside out and experiencing the thrill of a new course. And that’s what we can look forward to this weekend. What I’m hoping for is that while a big new field of women and juniors show up – the conversation can take a positive new tone: making things better for everyone.