Last Sunday I joined 7665 other women in the Rapha Women’s 100 challenge. Women from around the world logged the 100k distance to bring awareness to women’s sport according to Rapha. I’m sure partly it’s really to bring awareness to their insanely nice “remortgage your house” expensive cycling apparel. The ride was supportive and low key even up in the lead pack and despite the torrential downpour at times, really fun. On the way to the start with SMO, we did comment however, that we usually hate this kind of thing. I’ll be the first to admit that a group of squawking, whoooing women on bikes all trying to show each other up isn’t usually my idea of fun. I’m a bit of a tomboy and kinda a “guys girls” and I’ve been thinking about this ever since. What is it about other women that gets my chamois in a knot?
I’ve participated in women’s only events before and probably will again. I race the local Diva 8k most years and enjoy the rare experience of starting at the front of the pack and getting an overall podium. I’ve even raced the popular Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco complete with cliché pink shirts and Tiffany necklace finishers’ medal. Perhaps this makes me a hypocrite. Perhaps I don’t really care. It took a long time for women to have equal opportunity in racing marathons and the like and am grateful to the women that ran before me fighting the battle to get to the start line. I just wonder: is a women’s only event with piece of jewelry as a reward what these forerunners had in mind when they fought for the right to run?
When Katherine Switzer ran Boston in 1967 was she hoping it would lead to a women’s only marathon so we could exclude the men the same way they excluded us? I just finished watching the recently released women’s cycling documentary “Half the Road” and despite finding it somewhat dull and poorly narrated by Bob “Tour DES France” Roll it had some decent whining about equality in cycling. Oh, did I type that out loud? I haven’t seen many other women’s sports documentaries, but I’m guessing the overall theme of “life’s not fair or equal” would be prominent in most of them.
Notably, the film points out that since its induction Ironman has always treated and rewarded women equally (yay triathlon). Chrissy Wellington mentions women race on the same course at the same time as the men. Well, they did at least. Nowadays women get their own start both in pro and age group (as of 2014) at the world championships. The professional Ironman women fought to get a separate start to make the racing between them fairer. I see their point, but I also seem to recall an article I read about 6 women that sat in protest of their separate start at the 1972 New York marathon. Hmm, is this that women’s prerogative thing? There’s often a lot of twitter chatter going on from female pros about AG men interfering with their racing. Again, I see their point, but will the final outcome be women racing on separate days completely negating the “fairness” that Chrissy was talking about?
And if we end up racing on separate days or on a different course, how will we ever point out that we beat a man? I probably shouldn’t even get started on this point as nothing makes my blood boil like women that complain about racing with men and in the same breath mention how well they did overall. Or worse, use that term I can’t even say. You know, they one that rhymes with “licked.” I’ll just insert my own opinion here: I’m not racing men. I can’t. I’m not built like they are and they aren’t built like me. I will probably finish before some, but I’m just not in their race. Simple.
I guess this was a lot to think about on a women’s only bike ride. I was even sporting my Coeur Sports women’s only jersey for whom I’m a proud ambassador. It’s actually made for women by women. Novel idea eh? It’s not pink, nor has flowers, but it’s for women. I don’t hate the colour pink, but I feel like I look enough like a girl (at least from the front) to not have the pink bike, with pink bar tape and a matching pink kit. Just me. Each to their own.
So I’ll continue to race you other women and participate in select women’s only events (especially the free ones). I’m working towards being a more supportive female cyclist, but can we tone down the whhooooing a bit? Thanks.