Women's Wednesday - Why Don’t More Colorado Women Race?

Author: Cheri Felix
(Photo Credit: 303Photo)

Today is going to be one of those days where I posit the question that we may not be able to answer. Why don’t more women race?

I’ve always wondered about this but racing the Big Mountain Enduro really brought it home. Why aren’t there just as many girls racing (period) and why aren’t there just as many girls racing enduro. Why is it that we have women physicists, women senators and women urologists but we can’t match the boys out at short track? Now don’t tell me it’s because girls aren’t as strong or as aggressive. Let’s see…it’s not because we can’t drive ourselves to the venue nor is it because we don’t have a bike. So what is it?

I really don’t know. I mean I can’t figure it out. They gave us the vote (after we demanded it) so we vote. We can drive unlike women in Saudi Arabia. I mean can it be that women just aren’t cut out for it. That we are intimidated? That we aren’t aggressive? That we don’t care about all that silly stuff like winning and losing. That we don’t want to break a sweat. Or is that we don’t do a good enough job bringing women up in racing? Or that what? That we just don’t care?

Now I know some women who don’t want to race. I get it. It’s not for everyone. It’s not for every guy either. I totally get it. I really do. But what if more of us try it. What if a few more of us try a short track race? What if I told you that you won’t die. That it might hurt a bit but that you won’t die. That yes it’s hard but not nearly as hard as burying a parent. Not nearly as hard as having a miscarriage. What if I told you that you’ll probably never win. Never come close to it but that that’s okay. That there can only be one winner.

And what if I told you that Enduro racing is no joke but that some of you should still try it. That even if you can’t ride part of it you can run it. That the whole point is not winning or losing (because there is only one winner) but in the trying. In the risk taking. In the representing all of us women and girls. Especially the girls who are craving good role models. Role models that aren’t judged by what they are wearing or their BMI or how sexy they are.

Racing is a habit. Just like flossing. Just like a training ride. Just like your yearly pap. Try a short track. It’s 20 minutes. Boulder’s is on Wednesday. Fort Collins has one on Tuesdays. I want you to feel what it’s like to do something you never thought you’d do. You never thought you wanted to do. Test your mettle. Show everyone that women deserve to be marketed to. Deserve to be sought after. Race promoters are waiting for you. What are you waiting for?


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What a great topic. As a relatively new woman mountain biker, racing was the last thing on my mind going into this season. I had stood on the sidelines at many a race cheering for my guy, but had no desire to try it myself due to many of the factors previously stated: 1. Fear of coming in dead last (ha!) 2. Fear of being completely in over my head and 3. Fear of injuring myself. However, the offer of a free entry, the awareness that a few friends would be doing it, and the thought of a three day weekend in one of my favorite mountain towns made me decide to give the Crested Butte BME a shot. One of six race runs later, I had made new friends, cheered them on as they started their race runs, gone faster than I thought possible, actually enjoyed riding sections of trail that were previously terrifying to me, and fell in love with the challenge of challenging myself. Sure, racing may not be for everybody, but how would you know that until you gave it a shot? I mean, I said for years that BIKING wasn't for me, but definitely proved myself wrong.

I can't speculate as to what other women need to get involved in racing, but I do wish that more would. Maybe ladies just need to hear from other women what a blast it is. Maybe the women's specific clinics and skills camps need to teach ladies race etiquette. Maybe race promoters need to market to women more. Or maybe all that's needed is some gorgeous scenery, a lack of weekend plans, and a group of girlfriends entering to provide that impetus. I can only say that it was a blast. So much so that I had to sign up and race the Keystone BME last weekend. Sure, I walked a section or two, I took a minor spill, and I didn't get first place, but it was a heck of a lot better that merely waiting at the bottom to give my racer boyfriend the thumbs up. I mean, I actually got to ride my bike. What more could I ask for?

racing is fun

Sparky! Thanks for your comment! I 100% agree and it's cool to know that I'm not the only one who at one time thought mountain biking wouldn't be my thing. ;) Racing is fun and I've never placed 1st. Not in 5 years. But I've NEVER regretted racing. Not once. Not even when I've come in dead last. What's to be upset about? I was out there. I tried. Nuff said. Besides there's only one way to go from last. Up. Thanks again!

I think it's reflective of our overall participation

If you look at running, women and men race at roughly equal numbers. I'd say they also run recreationally or for fitness at roughly equal numbers. I can't find any similar statistics for cycling, but anecdotally, it seems there are always fewer women on the trail than men. (And really, those of us who are frequently irked by the cycling industry's lack of options for women's gear definitely understand that we're not a big market.)

I think only a certain percentage of recreational athletes in a given sport will ever care to make the jump to racing, and in cycling, the sample size for women is just smaller--meaning fewer women race.

Purchasing Power

Libby! Great points. I constantly remind bike shops and apparel companies that women make many of the purchasing decisions (even about things that are not for us) in households. And there is a certain demographic that is more than happy to buy good ( read:functional and fabulous looking) gear and they love to tell their friends where they bought it. As to #'s of women, let's support the next gen of women and take along friends when we go for a ride or bike weekend. Yeeha! Thanks!

For me racing is the

For me racing is the antithesis of MTB!!!! I ride to GET AWAY from everyone. I can't stand over crowded trails and I certainly don't want to pay to ride my bike with 300 of my closest friends. In "the old days" ;) late 80's early 90's racing was very grassroots and felt welcoming. Now, we conform to Road Racing "cats"....She is a "cat1" racer. Who cares!! I just enjoy being outside, riding my bike. ALONE (or preferably with my SO). So.....I think in the last few lines you compared racing or preparing to race to getting a yearly PAP. Yah....fun. Not.