(Elite) "women's racing in Colorado just stepped back 5-10 years"

The story

Letter to BRAC from women's representatives

BRAC Board members,
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our concerns.
On behalf of the Colorado racing community we are requesting a change in the timing of the current cyclocross schedule to adjust the women’s open category from it’s current location at 9:00 AM daylight savings and post daylight savings to immediately before the open men’s race at 3:20 PM DST and 2:25 PM post DST per the following reasons:

#1 The elite men and women’s races are traditionally held back to back because of the similar quality of racing and consequently, exposure. Aside from accommodating the racers, the objective of the race promoter is to highlight the sport and attract interest. Presenting the elite women in conjunction with the elite men provides twice the excitement for individuals spectating without having to spend over seven hours at the race venue.

#2 Women have achieved large gains within the sport of cycling over the past years regarding equality. A main objective of racing is to do well and progress. The elite women’s field is the pinnacle of this progression and a showcase of what the best women can do. This deserves a broad viewership and is essential to demonstrating that an elite race is a showcase of skill, fitness, and perseverance that provides excitement for spectators regardless of an athlete’s sex.

#3 Women in this field rely on sponsorship to race. Low coverage and viewership equates to low sponsorship, which in turn equates to less support and less racers and support of women’s racing. Social media, photographer presence, and social interaction with spectators during the race all contribute significantly to sponsor exposure. Allotting the elite women’s field equal exposure sends the right message to the racing community while providing the opportunity for the women to give back to companies that support them.

#4 The elite women’s field provides motivation and inspiration to so many incredible junior girls and beginner women that are just starting to participate. To further promote this presence and encourage these women to continue to pursue cycling as a competitive sport, we must provide the opportunity to watch the elite women's race highlighted in the same fashion as the elite men. The women coming up in the sport look up to riders in the elite field for inspiration and if they are not seen, there is less inspiration.

We would like to request a revisit of the current schedule and consequently a change in the schedule for the remainder of the season. Please see below for proposed solutions.
Thank you for taking the time to address this issue.
Sincerely,

Proposed solution:
OPTION ONE
This would require a time slot swap with the senior men 3’s and 35+ 3’s. This change should prove minimal since the race duration for both categories is essentially the same.
DST
Move SWO down to the 35+3’s at 3:20
SM 55+ and 45+ 4’s move up to 9:00
SM 3’s and 35+ 3’s move to 9:50
Each race has at least a ten min. gap between
Post DST
Swap SM3’s and 35+ 3’s with SWO at 9:05 and 2:25
The duration and time gaps between races remains the same.

OPTION TWO
Place the SWO in the SM3’s and 35+ time slot while moving all categories up a slot starting at 9:00
This allows for a less severe change of the SMO 3’s and 35+ category if that is a concern.


From BRAC

Last week, a petition was delivered to the BRAC Board of Directors to change the race day schedule for the 2013 Colorado Cross Cup.

The 2013 Cross Cup Policy, which includes the race day schedules, was published on our website on July 23, 2013, the day after it was approved by the Board of Directors.

The Board has declined to make changes to the 2013 race day schedules, and racing will follow the schedules that were published in July.

As you know, the task of building race day schedules for our cross racing is a significant process. We have 24 distinct racing groups (ie categories) in our Cross Cup, and juggling the start times so that all athletes can race on a given day is, to say the least, challenging.

The Board makes every attempt to create a fair, balanced race day schedule every year, and also works to provide different groups with different start times from year to year (so the same groups are not always first, or always last, on cross race days). A significant consideration for scheduling is to put those groups who have children near to the junior start times. In this year's scheduling, the Board also considered requests from our SW 4 athletes to race near the SW Open, so that all the womens' racing is in the same part of the race day.

The changes that were suggested by the petition are positive, and will be considered for the 2014 race day schedules. The Board wishes to thank all those who contribute information for the creation of BRAC policy.

Elite Women’s cycling is taking a backseat as some might say or an early wake up call-up given the new 2013 BRAC racing schedule. This year unlike any year known to the most racers in Colorado or most place in the USA, Elite women go over 7 hours before the Elite men. The time slot usually used by the women (before the men’s which goes at 4:20pm) is assigned to the SM 35+ cat 3. Nicole Duke, a pro cyclocross racer says, “women's racing in CO just stepped back 5-10 years”. Moving the Elite women’s field will limit women’s racing exposure to the masses (few will be there at 9am to cheer them on) but more importantly the accessibility to photographers and other media outlets will be greatly limited due to the large separation from the Elite men’s field. This could limit sponsorships exposure and reduce the value of the Elite women’s field as a whole

How did this happen?

Back in June (exact time not known) BRAC sent out the proposed Cyclocross racing schedule for 2013, notice on their homepage was made, clubs were contacted and feedback was requested. Pretty much a typical process for changes like this but it wasn’t noticed until flyers started getting created and racers started planning out the early season and that's when some had that “oh Sh$t” moment.

What was done about it.

A request/petition was made requesting the schedule be changed and their reasons why it should

Problem is, the train had left the station. Promoters, racers, and all racing categories, were already settling into the new 2013 schedule. BRAC did respond saying in short, “The changes that were suggested by the petition are positive, and will be considered for the 2014 race day schedules. The Board wishes to thank all those who contribute information for the creation of BRAC policy.”

What can be learned

Participate. Maybe you don’t care about this issue but next year it might be about moving 35+ to 40+ so don’t be surprised, stay engaged even when your head is in another season, but even we at 303cycling missed this schedule change so you aren’t alone and maybe the channels used to communicate the change weren’t the right ones or the timing, maybe core changes to a discipline should be done during that season for the next year helping make certain participates are engaged.

One thing that is VERY clear here at 303cycling.com is that categories are a VERY, VERY passionate topic. I would say next to bike accidents they rank #2. In the game to place categories at least one group is always upset by their start time. It’s not easy and choosing which philosophy to stand behind will most likely always be controversial.

I support the request for a post daylight savings change to keep the categories in line with typical race day layout with the elite women and elite men next to each other, being awesome with all to watch.

News Item: 

60 Comments

Aside from not wanting all

Aside from not wanting all the complaints that would be sure to come from the effected 35+ 3s, there is the issue of restrictions on changing the start times on already published flyers. There's gotta be some sort of restriction on changing things after the final flyer has been published/distributed. If not that, the only conclusion I can draw is that BRAC is just being intransigent for intransigence sake. Of course, they can persuade me otherwise if they'll provide a full rationale for not changing, instead of the perfunctory "we considered your request but are not going to change..."

Racer Numbers - Women ~13%

Cross of North - 407 Total - 14% Juniors, 72% Men, 14% Women
Zero Gravel - 364 Total - 16% Juniors, 72% Men, 12% Women
Valmont - 648 Total - 17% Juniors, 72% Men, 11% Women
Body Sync - 178 Total - 13% Juniors, 75% Men, 12% Women

*Women Open Group is averaging around 12 riders or 3%. Still haven't seen any growth of Women's numbers over the years.

And?

Something like 25-30% of "cyclists" are women. Why is it only half of female cyclists race? Do women just not show up because racing is a testosterone-filled idiot fest? Do women not show up because the prize money is insulting comparatively? Maybe they are busy raising your daughters to live in a world full of this brilliance?

Kris, this is shotty

Kris, this is shotty journalism at its best, taking only one side of the story into your investigation to promote an emotional reaction. Where were these women, who requested a change to the schedule, when it came to the women's summit? The same women's summit who wanted all women to race in a similar time frame? How about commenting how the new creation of the SW3 category has paved the way for more women to properly develop into the elite ranks? How about comment about how the SW35+ requested a change before the season to BRAC and their category was re-added to the schedule. And that was done after the women's summit saw no need for a SW35+ field. Kudos to BRAC for sticking to their policy. Your title could have easily been "BRAC stands up for proper process and policy in the face of elite women who sits on thier hands for two months." Instead you chose a sensational title to rile up the masses.

Your title persuades readers

Your title persuades readers to form an emotional bias in favor of the "disenfranchised" elite women. Where's the segment on why this schedule was chosen, was any research or aggregation done there? Any aggregation on everything BRAC has done to boost women's cycling in the past year? Any information on BRAC's side on why the request was denied? Some of us grew up in the 70's and witnessed the fight for women's equality first hand. The main lesson that came out of those years is "show up". Dig a little deeper Kris and you might find a more balanced, and less sensational, story line.

AGREED 100%. Kris mentions,

AGREED 100%. Kris mentions, but fails to highlight the 1.5 months these women had to voice their concerns. To me the epic failure and any step back falls on the very shoulders of the women who want all the spoils, but rarely step up to run the back end of thier sport.

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