FW: Senior women fields

Freyensee, James P

May 24, 2007 at 6:31 AM

I would also give the benefit of the doubt on low women turnout this
past weekend due to the weather.

I raced in the rain all day at Falls City Firecracker Mtb on Sunday; I
got to imagine the roads were wet in Portland for Swan Island Crit.
There are some people in the world that don't like to do bike races in
the rain.

Jay

From: obra-bounces@list.obra.org [mailto:obra-bounces@list.obra.org] On
Behalf Of Martha Walsh
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2007 1:01 PM
To: cmurray@obra.org; obra@list.obra.org
Subject: Re: [OBRA Chat] FW: Senior women fields

I was one of the three senior women who showed up to race at Three
Rivers, so I recognize that vanishing women's fields are a problem
(thanks to the promoter for bending over backward to accommodate us
however he could). But I don't think eliminating racing opportunities
for women is a way to encourage those fields to grow. It's not just the
newly upgraded cat 3s who aren't racing; it's the 1s and 2s as well.
Those voices are as absent from this discussion as they are from races.
Why?

Not to be mean about it, but nobody said bike racing was easy, and
upgrading to cat 3 should be a challenge. That transition should be
made easier now by the sad fact that the 1-2s generally aren't racing
and the fields are dominated by 3s. Heck, there were 4s in the front
group at the finish at Kings Valley, so it's not like near-pros were
making things miserable for newly upgraded cat 3s. Back in the Dark
Ages when I was a cat 4, there was ONE women's field at all races.
Banana Belt, Tour of Willamette, you name it: I got the privilege of
racing with (well, starting with) pros and wannabe-pros. Right, Candi?

I live in Seattle, and for something like 9 of the last 13 weeks of the
2007 season, my race calendar shows me racing in Oregon. I hope
promoters don't get the message that cat 1-2 women don't want to race
after March--we do. And I really hope they don't think it's an
acceptable racing option to combine us with a men's field--it's not
(Three Rivers was good proof). A forum to decide which races are open
to me will reduce my options and thus reduce my racing rather than
increase it. If, for example, Kim Anderson showed up for Mt. Tabor
again this year, but Mt. Tabor didn't make the list of women's favorite
races and so had no race, how could you really explain that bike racing
in Oregon can't sustain racing opportunities for senior women? (Sorry,
Nathan, I'm not criticizing you!)

I seem to be ending every paragraph with a question mark, so obviously I
have no solution. The more you race your bike, the more you'll learn
and the better you'll be; racing against stronger women only makes you
stronger. And the more you race, the more you'll realize that Oregon
has some of the best racing around and it would be a crying shame to
lose that opportunity in future years for the women who are just now
upgrading from 4 to 3.

Go race at Silverton. It's a fantastic course! And when you get home,
sign up for Elkhorn. It's the funnest stage race you could ever hope to
do. And cat 4s and newly upgraded cat 3s really do survive--and go
back.

Martha Walsh

Candi Murray wrote:



We had great turnout early season, but as the season wears on, I
think the
top women start focusing on a few key regional races with the
promise of
larger fields and the local one-day races just don't get the
numbers.

Meanwhile, some CAT 3s are wondering if upgrading was a
mistake... As a
second year racer who has upgraded to CAT 3 this season, I can
say it's been
a tough transition. I realize all racers go thru this, but the
men have the
benefit of a true beginner CAT 5, a CAT 4, and then a CAT 3
field separate
from the 1-2s. Women really only have two CATs: beginner or
advanced. There
is no Intermediate ground for us to learn and compete on. How
many guys
would still find racing fun if they had to jump from CAT 5 to
CAT 2 in their
second year of racing? I believe other NEW 3s feel the same way,
so they
take up track, MTBing or just "wait for 'cross season."

And now since we don't believe anyone will show up to race, we
don't either
and the races do in fact get cancelled. The problem has a
spiraling effect:
fewer women means less interesting racing which in turn leads to
fewer
women...and so on.

Sad situation for sure, and after all this rambling the only
constructive
suggestion I can make is to limit the number of CAT 1-2-3
women's road races
in the mid to late season (CAT 4 fields are strong, so no need
to limit
their race options). It would have the effect of forcing larger
fields, and
larger fields leads to more interesting racing, which leads to
more
racers...hey, I see a theme here. The senior women can always
choose to ride
with the guys if there isn't a women's race on a given weekend.
Yes, a few
race promoters would stand to gain over those not "chosen" but
this
sacrifice would be for the collective good of women's racing in
Oregon,
something we desperately need right now.

We would achieve this select schedule thru an OBRA Women's Forum
attended by
team representatives at the beginning of each season to vote on
which races
would make the "cut." We could also discuss how we as a
collective group
will promote and encourage women's participation, be it thru
organizing
clinics, mentoring etc. My team (Sorella Forte) does this
internally, but
how much better could it be if teams worked TOGETHER to grow the
women's
racing fields?

Just some thoughts. Maybe it would be impossible to come to a
consensus on
which races to select, but the idea of a forum to talk about it
couldn't
hurt?


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Martha Walsh

May 24, 2007 at 6:01 AM

I was one of the three senior women who showed up to race at Three Rivers, so I recognize that vanishing women's fields are a problem (thanks to the promoter for bending over backward to accommodate us however he could). But I don't think eliminating racing opportunities for women is a way to encourage those fields to grow. It's not just the newly upgraded cat 3s who aren't racing; it's the 1s and 2s as well. Those voices are as absent from this discussion as they are from races. Why?

Not to be mean about it, but nobody said bike racing was easy, and upgrading to cat 3 should be a challenge. That transition should be made easier now by the sad fact that the 1-2s generally aren't racing and the fields are dominated by 3s. Heck, there were 4s in the front group at the finish at Kings Valley, so it's not like near-pros were making things miserable for newly upgraded cat 3s. Back in the Dark Ages when I was a cat 4, there was ONE women's field at all races. Banana Belt, Tour of Willamette, you name it: I got the privilege of racing with (well, starting with) pros and wannabe-pros. Right, Candi?

I live in Seattle, and for something like 9 of the last 13 weeks of the 2007 season, my race calendar shows me racing in Oregon. I hope promoters don't get the message that cat 1-2 women don't want to race after March--we do. And I really hope they don't think it's an acceptable racing option to combine us with a men's field--it's not (Three Rivers was good proof). A forum to decide which races are open to me will reduce my options and thus reduce my racing rather than increase it. If, for example, Kim Anderson showed up for Mt. Tabor again this year, but Mt. Tabor didn't make the list of women's favorite races and so had no race, how could you really explain that bike racing in Oregon can't sustain racing opportunities for senior women? (Sorry, Nathan, I'm not criticizing you!)

I seem to be ending every paragraph with a question mark, so obviously I have no solution. The more you race your bike, the more you'll learn and the better you'll be; racing against stronger women only makes you stronger. And the more you race, the more you'll realize that Oregon has some of the best racing around and it would be a crying shame to lose that opportunity in future years for the women who are just now upgrading from 4 to 3.

Go race at Silverton. It's a fantastic course! And when you get home, sign up for Elkhorn. It's the funnest stage race you could ever hope to do. And cat 4s and newly upgraded cat 3s really do survive--and go back.

Martha Walsh

Candi Murray wrote:

We had great turnout early season, but as the season wears on, I think the
top women start focusing on a few key regional races with the promise of
larger fields and the local one-day races just don't get the numbers.

Meanwhile, some CAT 3s are wondering if upgrading was a mistake... As a
second year racer who has upgraded to CAT 3 this season, I can say it's been
a tough transition. I realize all racers go thru this, but the men have the
benefit of a true beginner CAT 5, a CAT 4, and then a CAT 3 field separate
from the 1-2s. Women really only have two CATs: beginner or advanced. There
is no Intermediate ground for us to learn and compete on. How many guys
would still find racing fun if they had to jump from CAT 5 to CAT 2 in their
second year of racing? I believe other NEW 3s feel the same way, so they
take up track, MTBing or just "wait for 'cross season."

And now since we don't believe anyone will show up to race, we don't either
and the races do in fact get cancelled. The problem has a spiraling effect:
fewer women means less interesting racing which in turn leads to fewer
women...and so on.

Sad situation for sure, and after all this rambling the only constructive
suggestion I can make is to limit the number of CAT 1-2-3 women's road races
in the mid to late season (CAT 4 fields are strong, so no need to limit
their race options). It would have the effect of forcing larger fields, and
larger fields leads to more interesting racing, which leads to more
racers...hey, I see a theme here. The senior women can always choose to ride
with the guys if there isn't a women's race on a given weekend. Yes, a few
race promoters would stand to gain over those not "chosen" but this
sacrifice would be for the collective good of women's racing in Oregon,
something we desperately need right now.

We would achieve this select schedule thru an OBRA Women's Forum attended by
team representatives at the beginning of each season to vote on which races
would make the "cut." We could also discuss how we as a collective group
will promote and encourage women's participation, be it thru organizing
clinics, mentoring etc. My team (Sorella Forte) does this internally, but
how much better could it be if teams worked TOGETHER to grow the women's
racing fields?

Just some thoughts. Maybe it would be impossible to come to a consensus on
which races to select, but the idea of a forum to talk about it couldn't
hurt?

_______________________________________________
OBRA mailing list
obra@list.obra.org
http://list.obra.org/mailman/listinfo/obra
Unsubscribe: obra-unsubscribe@list.obra.org


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Candi Murray

May 24, 2007 at 4:52 AM

We had great turnout early season, but as the season wears on, I think the
top women start focusing on a few key regional races with the promise of
larger fields and the local one-day races just don't get the numbers.

Meanwhile, some CAT 3s are wondering if upgrading was a mistake... As a
second year racer who has upgraded to CAT 3 this season, I can say it's been
a tough transition. I realize all racers go thru this, but the men have the
benefit of a true beginner CAT 5, a CAT 4, and then a CAT 3 field separate
from the 1-2s. Women really only have two CATs: beginner or advanced. There
is no Intermediate ground for us to learn and compete on. How many guys
would still find racing fun if they had to jump from CAT 5 to CAT 2 in their
second year of racing? I believe other NEW 3s feel the same way, so they
take up track, MTBing or just "wait for 'cross season."

And now since we don't believe anyone will show up to race, we don't either
and the races do in fact get cancelled. The problem has a spiraling effect:
fewer women means less interesting racing which in turn leads to fewer
women...and so on.

Sad situation for sure, and after all this rambling the only constructive
suggestion I can make is to limit the number of CAT 1-2-3 women's road races
in the mid to late season (CAT 4 fields are strong, so no need to limit
their race options). It would have the effect of forcing larger fields, and
larger fields leads to more interesting racing, which leads to more
racers...hey, I see a theme here. The senior women can always choose to ride
with the guys if there isn't a women's race on a given weekend. Yes, a few
race promoters would stand to gain over those not "chosen" but this
sacrifice would be for the collective good of women's racing in Oregon,
something we desperately need right now.

We would achieve this select schedule thru an OBRA Women's Forum attended by
team representatives at the beginning of each season to vote on which races
would make the "cut." We could also discuss how we as a collective group
will promote and encourage women's participation, be it thru organizing
clinics, mentoring etc. My team (Sorella Forte) does this internally, but
how much better could it be if teams worked TOGETHER to grow the women's
racing fields?

Just some thoughts. Maybe it would be impossible to come to a consensus on
which races to select, but the idea of a forum to talk about it couldn't
hurt?