Coffee Talk - Increasing Exposure for Professional Women's Cycling

Women's cycling has grown in the past 10 years right? I see and know more women cyclists now than ever before and rides like Venus de Miles and area women's only-ish cycling clubs seem to be exploding around the Front Range but the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge will not be entertaining a women's field like in the days of the Red Zinger or HP International Cycling Challenge... elite level women's cycling is not matching this growth. The co-founder of Cervelo has an interesting suggestion for raising exposure for women's cycling, Make it mandatory for every WorldTour race to also organize a women’s race. Also on the same article, a commenter going by the name of "Connie" (hey, I think I know a famous cycling Connie) explains the history of women's cycling at the Red Zinger and death of it at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Gauging from comments we got from a similar topic a few months ago on Measuring the Growth of Cycling, many comments stated that it was not role models that drove their passion for cycling but good venues and support from the cycling community. But we ARE influenced by role models, so it begs the question, how do women cycling role models influence our community?

Interview with CyclePassion Models... not the pin-up vid

But other groups are also trying to get more exposure to women's cycling and one of those is Cycle Passion. Cycle Passion is a provocative women's cycling calendar turning 12 of the top women's cyclists into "Cycling Goddesses". In the video above some of the models in the calendar speak of why they signed on to be a model and it's value.

Coffee Talk is my chance to rant and your chance to chime in. What do you think it will take to propel the popularity of professional women's cycling to that of what it was 20-30 years ago? (days of Red Zinger) That sounds weird, has women's cycling improved or gone downhill.... I guess it is how you spin the numbers and your end goal, right?

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So you want to compare the

So you want to compare the best woman to all couch potatoes that decide to do one race a year? In that case, sure, she can beat the "majority." (but still finish 100th????)

Now we know why women's racing does not get the sponsors/racing opportunities; this guy says its bacause their just a little better than the couch potatoes. I'll bet the couch potatoes don't either.

Can we come back to the original question?

Why do we have to be compared to men? Why can't women's cycling be just that? We are not comparing ourselves to men while we are racing and we are out there training and trying just as hard as anyone men and women alike. The question wasn't about why you are bored when watching women's cycling; whether Connie deserved her Olympic medal (and BTW that is a very low blow... were you there, too and did you also get your medal since your "real" competition wasn't there?); or whether women look good in lycra. The question is about dwindling numbers in Colorado's women's fields. So let's look at this and answer some questions about how we can make the cycling community stronger. By having these really awful comments that make me sad and embarrassed to read, we are proving that the community is a disjointed and somewhat tactless community. If I were thinking about racing and I saw these comments, I would think twice. Thankfully, I already race and am happy to help those who want to join in and try racing, too (male or female).

In addition, maybe you did or didn't know this, but there are junior girls who race and try hard at what they are doing, too. They are also reading these comments and I hope they are just as tough as the rest of us racer girls and can brush off this sexist bias talk.

PS I also found it interesting that none of you could actually use your name, so I did.

There are lots of questions...

The first question is, has women's cycling grown? Has it? How has it grown compared to men's cycling?

This was not explicitly a question but seems to be an important theme, why are there not as many big stages races for women/equal pay? Is there a greater demand for high level racing in the women's community? Field sizes suggest there is not enough talent in the US to support this. Tour of the Gila is a good example. There are 150+ men in the P1 field and 75+ in the 2s field. How many in the P12 womens field? I imagine almost all the major stage races in the US set up this way.

At the grassroots/development and amateur level is there a greater demand for racing that there is opportunity? Are ACA?USAC Women's field's overflowing? I know some of the men's field at Iron Horse are already filled.

There just doesn't seem to be enough demand or enough talent.

I would love to see evidence to the contrary.

Follow-up to above

I think everyone should have the opportunity to compete but being paid to compete but having the opportunity to be paid to compete is completely different.

Everyone should have the opportunity to race, but no organization should put on a race unless it is in their best interest.

Yes, women's cycling (in general) has grown

If anyone as been to the Venus de Miles you'd have to say there is something very infectious there that is working. There are many more women's focused clubs starting up in the front range. I truly believe women's cycling (and I mean this in a very general sense) has had big growth in the last 5-10 years.

Now as for women's racing, are they as fast as the men, no, but I love watching. Their speed/"talent" is not the same as men but that doesn't matter. Men in skin suits are not as attractive to watch as women either. In the end we (racers) are entertainers and the speed or strength of the cyclists is only a small part of the entertainment equation in my opinion. But you have yours as well.

There are a few male pro cyclocross riders who are total head cases and I love hearing about them... not for their successes but for their WTF moments. It's all entertainment and if women can entertain better then step aside men.

Yes, I imagine women's

Yes, I imagine women's cycling and women's participation in sport has grown greatly, but are we talking about racing or just riding. Are women who want to just ride being excluded? It seems like the opportunity for them is growing.

I completely agree...entertainment is a huge part of the equation and has great value.

I assume this is why female models probably make much more money than male.

So what is missing on the entertainment side of the equation that is not driving sponsors to support women's racing, driving the money towards elite cycling teams?

Is talent a big part of this equation or are people just missing the boat?

I believe it is talent...this is why people don't support Cat 3 men's race's. Cat 3 men's races are just as exciting as women's P12 races, bigger fields, higher speeds, bad kits, more competitive (the winner isn't decided before it even starts) lots of crashes, old and young mixing it up, really nice bike's, really crappy bikes, strange mishaps, longer races then Cat 123 women, moms/girlfriends/boyfriends yelling great or stupid stuff, lots of charachters.

Did I miss something that Pro Women races have that Cat 3 men's races don't have besides being a different sex?

Why so hard to find basic information on women's prof cycling?

I would prefer to watch women's cycling over the men's. That the men can go faster, or generate more watts is not relevant to me. I want strategy and execution. The women provide that and I find myself preferring to be a spectator for women's cycling than men's.

But, who is the organizing body for women's cycling? Is it the UCI? What I fauil to udnerstand is why it is so hard to find information on women's cycling. Is there a site (sponsored by the governing body) that allows one to easily see teh calendar of events for Women's professional cycling? Perhaps it exists and I just have not found it.

I read some of the comments on women's calendars. Why hasn't someone produced a tasteful women's cycling calendar? I have a Graham Watson calendar on my wall and just noticed today that the women's events are not listed in the calendar. Why isn't there a women's equivalent? (without the bathing suits or skimpy attire)

Fundamentally I am simply a fan who would like to follow women's professional cycling and I have no clue how to do so. If something so basic is missing (or at least not easy to find) then how can the sport ever hope to progress?

Maybe I am just blind - in which case I would love to be pointed in the right direction.