I call myself a cyclist. From teaching spin classes to training for century rides to jumping in the occasional race, I’m kind of into the sport.
That being said, there are a couple places I feel pretty darn clueless.
One of those places is when it comes to the sport itself. I know the Tour de France, folks. I know the Giro D’Italia. I know Clara Hughes. I know lululemon has a women’s team
that I want to be on (#bhag).
But seriously, if a little girl who decided to take up cycling as her sport of choice asked me who she could look up to or what her pie in the sky goal might be, I wouldn’t know. I remember watching a video about women’s stage racing and then thinking that it’s silly that there isn’t a women’s Tour De France, although this news about La Course, which will run after the Tour this year is exciting and might be signalling change. I liked this article from The Independent which talked about women’s cycling (in Britain, specifically). It talks about making cycling more desirable to women via its image and encouraging them to take up the sport and why this is important:
“Sport should always look at how it can get involved at the grass-roots level, because only then can you say you’re useful to society. … Otherwise, riding around in circles is fairly pointless.”
I haven’t seen the documentary “Half the Road,” but the trailer and the website offer some insight into the issue around the lack of women’s pro cycling exposure.
On a similar note about increasing exposure and driving up women’s participation in the sport, I saw another story in the news last week that was encouraging: this press release about the British Cycling and the Football Association joining up to increase exposure to women’s sport.They’re talking about using bike riding as a social thing. Sounds good to me!
I wish that it wasn’t the case that we needed to talk about ways to up the exposure but in the meantime, I’m happy that the women’s side of the sport is going after–and getting–more attention. Seeing a pro lady riding a bike is one of those things that I think has a ton of potential. Most little girls learn to ride a bike–and cycling is one of the sports that I think could be within reach for them–if they knew it was an option. Without role models and examples of female athletes in the sport, we’re not raising a group of girls who know that it’s available to them. If we want to change the state of the sport, I think this is one of the biggest problems, which is why I think this news and these kinds of campaigns and partnerships are worthy of talking about. I see the benefits of increasing the exposure twofold: one, you’re helping to advance the women’s side of the sport; and, two, you’re helping to spur on mass participation. It’s not crazy to suggest that the average person go for a bike ride as a form of (easily accessible) exercise–and there are benefits beyond health that go along with more people cycling (consider if they took up exercise and commuting, for instance!)–male or female.
The world needs more cyclists!
What do you think? Do you follow women’s cycling?
Are you a cyclist?