Wednesday, 24 February 2010

It's my licence and I'll race if I want to

This is a bit of a rambling rant. I have entered Melbourne Cup on Wheels, the heats and “support”events of which are held this Saturday afternoon. After checking out the final entry list, I had a minor conniption. There are two B/C grade women riders, and the other 11 (yes, there are only 13 of us entered in total) are A grade/national/international level. It’s going to be an interesting afternoon of racing.

My first reaction was feeling completely overwhelmed and totally out of my depth (and slightly freaked out). Why? Why did I feel like that? After some deep thought (stop laughing!!) I realised it was because of the low entry numbers, and the high quality of the very small field. So then I checked out the Sid Patterson women’s field, which has only 1-2 more women entered, but a “wider” range of ability. Sid Patterson is on Friday night, the evening before MCOW. Some women have entered both, all kudos and thank yous to them (more on this later).  This led me to ask another question: why are some women, including those masters who race under an elite licence, racing one and not the other.  I’m racing once because frankly I want my Friday night to myself, rather than giving yet another week night to cycling. I give enough week nights to cycling as it is. But for the others, I am curious, and have no answer myself for that question.

Back to my first question (I told you this was a ramble!). Why do I feel overwhelmed?  I know I would feel less so if the field was bigger, so I could “hide” (hide on the track?? yeah ok). More to the point, a larger field means a wider range of abilities, simply.  A wider range of abilities means that riders like me don’t stand out so much, as being obviously at a different level to the majority of the other women riding. People may say, the likes of myself shouldn’t be riding (why?? Because they wouldn’t/haven’t entered themselves!). I think that kind of response says more about who is saying it, than to whom it is directed.

The bottom line for me, particularly this season, is that women’s numbers have been woeful, very low. If one less person raced (ie if I didn’t enter because I felt overwhelmed, not up to standard, name your own reason…) there would be even less women racing. Bloody obvious I know. But when you have 13 women entered, one less is significant, no matter the standard.

The other point is why I ride. I train hard. I may not train as much as those A grade women racing, for a whole bunch of reasons, mainly to do with life, but I train as best as I can with the time resources I have. Why do I train? To race. Not because I enjoy training, because a lot of the time, I'd rather be relaxing with a glass of Sam Miranda after work and reading a book. I like to race. Who says I can’t race an open because I am slower than X/Y/Z or older or less fit or will come last? Big deal!!! I say, put your money where your mouth is and enter the bloody race, go race it and support women’s racing.

If you don’t, then there will come a day when there is no Ladies’ Diamond Stakes, no provision for good races for women (1 wheelrace as a feature event, to entertain the lunch time crowd. Don’t laugh, it used to be like that), no capacity for quality racing for women. I want to race other women at my level. Currently I can’t. Why not? Because they don’t enter open races. It’s a numbers game, and by entering, we legitimise promoters’ show of faith in providing racing for women.

So for me, racing MCOW on Saturday afternoon is about my right to race, my support of women’s racing, my thank you to the promoter for providing the racing, as well as to make those back markers do some work to do to win the race. And because I enjoy it!


DJ said...

Well said Lawrenza. Some princesses need to remove their crowns and put on a helmet every now and then.

Nonie said...

I wish I could race to show my support... Even though that field would also intimidate me! I wonder if promising to have a crack in 2011 will make a difference?

Lawrence said...

Nonie, gunna hold you to that promise :-D

Nonie said...

Oh, bugger! Hopefully I'll be racing by the start of crit season. And I've no intention of doing Ararat... hate that track. Though that have something to do with mostly racing and training indoors on wood... I'm quite the princess like that!

Marty aka Mr Wino said...

well said Lawrence. As a promoter it is great to get the big names riders and some 'club' riders do get overwelmed but hey they just need to toughen up. It also happens in the mens events too. Time and time again precious roadies and trackies wont enter an event because so and so has entered and they always beat me. If I did that when I raced in Eurpoe I wouldn't have riden many races. I used it as an experience. What other sports allow you to race with big names. I know starting the Australia Road TT title in Adelaide a couple of years ago as the 10th last rider off I had Luke Roberts chasing me down as his minute man. For me it probally helped.
I know people who have knocked me as I medaled in country title events and they can beat me BUT they never entered! Its always the ones who knock others who don't enter or turn up to support the event.
Now if I get good numbers of ladies entering the Sam Miranda High Plains Road Race and Snow Road Crit I will hapily have more than one grade. By the way equal prizemoney has been paid to the ladies every running of the event.

Lawrence said...

You're right about it happening in the men's events as well Marty, and right about taking your competiton on board as experience. You learn a lot about who you are and why you race when you face the challenge of racing someone who is "better" than you.

And.. let's get some good promotion going for the women's racing on the Sam High Plains weekend. More than one grade and equal prize money sounds sweet!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion re participation of women riders, Lawrence... so i thought i'd give you some insight as to why i'm not racing both events.

As much as I would love to race two days in a row:
1. i have a young family to spend time with and a partner who also likes to get out for a ride;
2. i teach spin on saturdays and sundays to earn a bit of cash to support my cycling habit - & i've skipped heaps of saturdays lately for racing;
2. there's only so much my 40+yo body can take - i like to choose carefully the events i race.

I think Jane's in a similar boat.

So there you go. Boring but true... and not a crown in sight.


Mr WIno said...

Yep lock in October 9 - 10 2010 everyone. The weekend after the worlds and the week before the Warny!!

Saturday 100km Sam Miranda High Plains Road Race (Mansfield - Oxley)

Sunday Snow Road Criterium.

Pasta Dinner Saturday night along with RR presentations

Overall winners jerseys and KOM jerseys all grades. Trophy (wine) for best placed in both races.

more details
Entries through CSV $60rr $40crit.

MINIMUM $5500 for the weekend.

Lawrence said...

Megs, thanks for your detailed comment!

I am intrigued by (and appreciative of) your reply. My question was more rhetorical, and generated because I refuse to simply guess as to why one or the other event was selected.So thank you!

I understand life just prevents us from doing what we may want to do, hence my own excuse.

I certainly wasn't having a swipe at anyone for NOT racing both events. It would be hypocritical for one. I was just curious more than anything, as a side question that would give more insight as to why some races gain patronage over others.

Buttsy said...

I agree, although I won't be racing (basically not a trackie).....I think it is awesome that you are racing and kudos to you. I did the TT in Buninyong (got flogged, but learned heaps and established a baseline for myself.....)......Nice plug for the sponsor worded into the post too.....I know you are not digging at all of the masters necessarily (and yes I have an elite licence), but there are a lot of development riders, where are they, these races are fantastic opportunities to get some real racing experience and learn mental toughness which is a huge part of cycling.....Great Post and I agree with you, but it wont get me on the track!