I am absolutely thrilled to see the growing numbers in the Women’s Cat 4 fields this season! Kudos to all who have helped raise awareness of women’s racing opportunities. BRAC’s mentoring SW4 races started the trend. Racing teams are welcoming novice racers and showing them the ropes. BRAC’s fantastic 1-day racing camp hosted by Sue Lloyd, Cathy Zawadski, Katie Macarelli with volunteers had 50 women attendees. I hope we see all these new women racers for the rest of the season!
The other focus is retention. In a big move this year, BRAC supported Cat 3-only fields for women. Many racers upgrading from Cat 4 to Cat 3 in years past were immediately thrown into Pro-1-2-3 fields. From personal experience, I know how intimidating this is. Seeing pros I follow on Twitter chatting about my first P-1-2-3 race the night before took my race nerves to a whole new level. Of course, the positive of racing those much stronger and smarter is climbing a steep learning curve quickly. But in my opinion, knowing that the next step was racing pros kept many Cat 4 women from wanting to upgrade. The women’s Cat 4 fields have become top-heavy with experienced, strong racers who are racing Cat 4 at a Cat 3 level. The higher speed of the Cat 4 races can discourage beginner women racers from coming back.
A recent trend that I hope will continue is that more Cat 4 women will begin upgrading based on experience, not only points. As a Cat 3, I welcome larger fields with experienced steady wheels. Racing in larger fields is more exciting and provides more opportunity to employ tactics. As the new Cat 3 gains strength, there is always a role they can play in any race – which in turn increases their strength.
With all the avid women cyclists in Colorado/Wyoming, I firmly believe that we can double field sizes within the year. I envision a day when we are all pre-registering to avoid field caps. BRAC and the race teams have started the momentum, and we all have a personal responsibility to continue the build. If you see a new face in any race, introduce yourself afterwards and tell her how glad you are that she is racing. Invite her to the monthly pot-luck (started last year by Leslie Resnick, Sharon Madison and others). Connect with them on Facebook. Some positive, friendly words after the race go a very long way. This goes for the higher categories as well. Welcome newly-minted Cat 3’s and Cat 2’s to the field. Congratulate them on their hard-earned upgrades.
While I absolutely love the challenge and competition of the actual races, the most valuable aspect of bike racing is the friends I have made. These strong, beautiful women have added such joy and inspiration to my life. I hope that we can recruit as many others as possible into our crazy, fun lifestyle!