BRAC Women’s Summit

2013 BRAC Women’s Summit

“2013 – The Year of the Cycling Woman”

October 1, 2013 * 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Hosted by:

Prestige Imports and

The Colorado Women’s Cycling Project/Naked Women’s Racing

9201 W Colfax Avenue * Lakewood, CO 80215

Approximately 80 Attendees

Summit Notes

  1. Susan Adamkovics provided a review of the BRAC Women’s Program. To start, she introduced Katie Macarelli and Sue Lloyd who have been leading some activities under the Women’s Program.
  • Katie Macarelli – This year the program sponsored two women’s racing camps, one for road racing and one for cyclocross racing. Thirty women participated in the May Road Camp (40 people total were involved, which included mentors and other support people).  The Cyclocross Camp had 70 people in total. For next year’s camps, beginner skills will be included in the training.  Overall, the camps are being set up to try to address all skill sets.  For 2014, mentors are needed, so please sign up as mentor.  Tough Girls provided mentor support for the 2013 cyclocross camp. This model of a whole team supporting a camp worked well.  Camp organizers would like a team to support the 2014 Road Camp.  The camps have been very helpful for riders.  There are great examples of riders participating in a camp, and then using new skills to progress through racing categories.  Please see Katie for questions about 2014 camps. She is encouraging people to come and join the women’s race community.  Camps really help with forming the women’s cycling community.
  • Sue Lloyd – Sue has led the effort to provide mentoring for women racers at four category 4 races, early in season.  This has led to a dramatic increase in field sizes and there have been several instances where at least 40 women raced in cat 4 fields.  Sue would like to expand mentoring for next year by adding more mentoring races and include races throughout the season.  Experienced women racers should consider being a mentor at a cat 4 race. Mentors don’t need to be top racers, just people with good racing skills. There were a total of 115 women mentored in all races.
  • Yvonne van Ghent was recognized for all her work that she has done for BRAC.  Also acknowledged was Lynn Taylor for 5 years on the BRAC Board and her many years working as a BRAC and USAC race official.
  1. Status of Women’s Racing: Susan led a discussion about women racer numbers by category.  She provided a table that clearly illustrated an upward trend in racer numbers over the last three years.  There was a big jump in numbers in 2012 due to the inclusion of collegiate races on the BRAC calendar.  Regardless of that one time jump in numbers, there has been a positive upward trend.  The number of new racers in 2012 is significant compared to 2011.  Field sizes remained steady throughout 2012. As a percentage of all racers at events, women percentages at BRAC events are a little higher than national participation average, which is 13 percent. The BRAC percentage is between 13-17 percent, depending on the event.  Women racer numbers remain high even during lower participant events.  There is obvious growth in the sport based on the chart.  This is also evident as the masters age classes increase; racer numbers don’t drop off.  There are very few places around the country where we see 40 cat 4 women, which was seen at four races this year.  The growth in cat 4 women is great.  It is also great that we have enough women racing to have masters categories, compared to other regions of the country.
  1. Panel Discussions with Colorado Women’s Team Leaders and Racing Stakeholders: Rachel moderated a discussion focusing on the qualities, challenges, and opportunities for women’s bike racing.  On the panel were Christa Ghent (CU Cycling Vice President) representing collegiate racing cycling; Megan Hottman (TheCyclist-lawyer.com), Jennifer Tripett representing track racing; and Cristienne Beam (Tough Girls) representing cyclocross racing.

Questions to panel members:

  • What has been most valuable to you for advancing your racing?  Christa: to have a good attitude and be positive, especially racing fair.  Megan: She has been racing for 10 years and  has seen racing from all angles. She learned humility and being grateful. Your conduct, especially when you think no one is watching, is what matters.  Be the best person you can be when in your kit.  Jennifer: She has been racing for 9 years and is from Seattle. The most valuable aspect is having training partners, which includes your family, team, and cycling community; be part of it.  Cristienne – She has had eight years of racing in all disciplines.  It is best to have a positive outlook to avoid internalizing the negatives. Even look to be positive when finishing last; find the positives. Perseverance is key to growing in the sport.  Just keep showing up with a positive attitude.
  • What advice do you have for beginner racers, addressing their needs?  Try everything, all disciplines.  Identify your goal to help make the process fun.  Find a fun goal to pursue in your favorite discipline. Christa – Reach out to people who want to help you.  There are people out there who want to help new racers. Megan – Help each other at races, even before the event begins, for example, even simple things like pinning on a race number. Since bike racing is a hard sport to enter into, even the Cat 4s are looked upon by the public at super athletes.  Cat 4’s need to be courageous.  Also mentioned is that not everyone has the time to be helpful, but plenty of people are available to help.
  • What is being done to grow the sport? Megan –The Cyclist-lawyer.com has an elite team and a beginner team.  This helps build the sport from the bottom up and provides a place for progressing riders to move to.  It is hard to recruit women who ride a lot, but don’t necessarily race their bikes.  There is also a need to keep women’s and men’s teams separate when under the same organizing team. Teams help women with the basics.  Jennifer- she helped form women’s fields in Seattle and contributed to having women’s leadership.  She encourages women to get involved in racing management. Cristienne – dive into it. Take leadership for teams if it is needed. Need to have women volunteer.  Be an active racer in the racing community. Christa:  In college, a lot of kids want to try everything so many of them just do it.  It has been important to have women involved with the organization to help bring people into beginner cycling. For collegiate team events, both women’s and men’s points count, and they get equal points. This stresses the importance of women’s teams at colleges and the urgency to recruit more women racers.
  • Do you think it is important for women to be on a team? Christa – joining a team is definitely important for collegiate racing.  Megan – women need to be on a team that matches their own goals and personalities.  It is not bad to race unattached for a year to explore the sport and other teams, and to learn who is involved, but racers should then find a team that aligns with their goals and personality.  If you don’t like teams, it is still ok to participate unattached.  Jennifer: She was on four different teams in 2 years.  She kept looking for a team that aligned with her goals.  Nothing is perfect, so she created her own team and grew it.  Cristienne – Team membership for MTB and cyclocross is not completely necessary since the races are often individual efforts.  People new to racing can learn by racing unattached as there are lots of other ways to learn outside of a team.  However, it helps being surrounded by other women in a team, helps with discipline.
  • How do you disseminate information through the team, how do you get the word out with your team and beyond? Christa – The team’s listserve works well for disseminating information.  If you are not on team, you can still get on the listserve.  The team still use FB and twitter. Cristienne – integrated marketing approach with team. It is done in different ways depending on time available.  Use multiple ways to disseminate information. Make one of your teammates a delegate to move information.  Megan – Her team uses Google Groups.  It is very easy to see messages on your own time either by getting regular emails or by occasionally logging into Google Groups to check messages.  They also use FB for general information and Signup Genius for events.  Sue – uses corkboard to communicate.
  • Do you send team representatives to BRAC policy meetings? Most panelists send one person, or have a designated person.
  • How do we increase the women’s participation percentage? Megan – there was about 13 percent participation at a recent cross race, which is about what it generally is every week.  Megan – women tend not to put themselves first, and don’t afford themselves the luxury of racing and training.  Men tend not to struggle with that.  Almost half the women in audience are parents. In road running events, women make up about 50 percent of the total racers.  For triathalon events, it is almost 40 percent.  Cycling has the lowest percentage.  It is speculated that the difference is due to running races are easy to prepare for and enter as compared to bike racing.  For bike racing, it takes much more effort with training.  Running – one can almost go race socially without much training.  Why is the percentage so high for Tri? Maybe since a person might only enter a few races a year it is easier for women to enter the sport. It doesn’t take a weekly race commitment to progress in the sport.   Economics, mechanics of the sport, and the competitive environment also contribute to which sports are preferred by women.  Tri is often the first step into cycling because it is an individual event (versus a team event).  It has a “destinational” goal.  Participants are often in the mode of just wanting to travel to a big race to just compete and complete the race, a very personal goal.  Jenn – USAC cycling has a women’s diversity meeting.  In collegiate cycling it is already 25% women. In bike racing there might be too much worry about the competition.  But to grow, an athlete needs to be the best one can be and achieve one’s personal goals.  Competing with our own selves is easier done in MTB and cross.  For road events, racers need mentorship and more clubs and teams.   In road-race events, you can still try to be the best you can be and seek to improve your performances.  Crits are another story since they are often so team oriented. In collegiate racing, there is more mentorship at races and skills are built upon at successive races.  Megan – conflict turns people away from the sport.  It is ok to be competitive without conflict, need to go for it.
  • Where do want to see the sport in 5 years? We need to stress the importance of women to keep racing through the year.  We need to show promoters that women can get large field sizes.  It is ok to move from cat 3 to cat 2 and still be competitive.  Jennifer – would like to see national role models in women’s bike racing trickle down to local leaders.  We need to create more role models in our community.  Cristienne: cross – can we double the size of fields in 5 years? It can be done if all women show up and we grow.   Other sports have done things to attract women.  This is similar to various sports industries that are also trying to attract women.  Bottom line – participate.  Christa: mentors really help to bring women in and would like to get to a 50% participation rate.   Megan – Moms, would childcare make a big difference? Yes.  We need child care during and at races. Two groups of baby sitters would help.  10 dollars an hour might be reasonable. Can we try this at cross races?  10 -15 dollars/hour might be reasonable.  Can this be coordinated? If there will be 10 or 15 racers in SW open and MW 35+, Megan will sponsor the child care for a month.  Need numbers to make it work.

Open discussion about how do we build on the momentum that we have created:

  • We need to reach out to some of the smaller schools in collegiate cycling and also get women interested at the high school level.
  • Getting cat 4’s to move to 3’s was an issue last year. Since last year, the number of upgrades has been great.  More women are doing this now.
  • How do we keep JR women in cycling programs? If some of the SR racers should say hello and talk to the JR women, it would be a big deal to them. The JR’s can watch cat 4 women race. This gives them an idea that they are not far off in their ability to race with the Cat 4’s.  Keeping JR and Cat 4 categories back to back on race day is important. Savanna Adams: She had a great time and didn’t need to be on the best equipment.  Now she has gone to JR nationals.  MTB racing is growing in high school.  There was a question about BRAC owning bikes for beginner JR’s to borrow.  BRAC supports a 1st bike program with local bike shops.  There is about $450 support for first bikes for juniors.  Some shops around town support this.  Would it be possible to provide BRAC with loaner bikes?
  • How do we pull people from the charity rides? There are many non-competitive rides in Colorado. Bike MS is the largest fundraiser ride.   At charity rides, we are seeing 50/50 men and women.  We should at least set up a table at a charity ride. There are always women at charity rides who want to race.  We should ask racers or teams to do charity rides and be a resource to help women learn about bike racing. Will women volunteer their time to staff a table and ride charity rides?  It was decided that a BRAC women’s ambassador team for charity rides is an action item.  Can BRAC offer a women’s non-competitive ride?  Can teams adopt a charity ride to help with the ride and offer mentoring before the ride (e.g., how to descend).  This could help riders prepare for a charity ride. Every BRAC team could designate a person who might be able to be an ambassador for a charity ride. Bicycle Colorado created a consortium of tour directors to collaborate.  BRAC teams or members could get involved with this consortium to get engaged with non-competitive rides. Bicycle Colorado would be a good avenue to get in touch with event directors of non-competitive rides (see Scott). Through this effort it would also be possible to leverage rider email lists.
  • Entry level race events: These types of events take away the intimidation.  There was a suggestion to host a women’s non-competitive ride in concert with a race.  Queens of Cross had included a first-timers race.  Do teams offer clinics? Some do.  Criterium is a hard race format to use to bring people into racing.  Hill climbs are good places to look for new racers.  Need more road races to help with getting new riders.  Weekly clinics have been done in other parts of the country with good success.  Encourage mtb use at cross races. Cross is a good entry point into racing, especially if it is encouraged that a $2k bike is not needed.  Should be more about the experience, not so much focus on the result at the entry level, and all levels. Don’t have announcer heckle mtb’ers at races.  There was a mention that more teams should also support club teams and get those racers involved with race tactics.  In Portland, on a car race course, they have women’s races every week (women’s and newbie races).  They had mentors at those weekly races as well.  In Oregon, people have a lot of fun in cross.  Encourage a fun atmosphere here as well.
  • We should reach out to family members of racers to encourage participation. We could also interact with spectators (who are often family and friends of racers) at cross races to publicize women’s racing.  Try to get significant others involved with racing if partner is already racing.
  • Moving up the sandbaggers faster.  One hurdle to this is people wanting to be on the podium.  Also the informal mentoring keeps women in cat 4. There was a discussion about riders to focus on the personal experience and improvements when at the cat 4 level. One way to do this is to not have rider cup for cat 4’s.   The Cup for Cat 4’s would only be a Team Cup.

Cyclocross race day scheduling for elite women:

The basic question being asked is should the SW Open category race just before the SM Open. The proposal is that SW Open would race at approximately at 3:20 PM DST and 2:25 PM post DST, with the men racing after the women.  It is very difficult to meet all scheduling needs for all categories.  The old schedule allowed for better riders to race at a better time of the day.  Prime times to race have been between noon and 3.  It is relative based on the category.  We’ve had the same schedule for at least 3 seasons. Elite women and Elite men are coupled at 50% of races in other areas of the country, from a sampling of race flyers.

  • Clint Bickmore (BRAC Board President) – the primary schedule driver is that most women in upper categories and MW 35+ are coaches and mothers, and wanted to race at a time slot near the juniors.  Many racers have children that are JR racers. This was discussed at the last women’s summit and promoters meeting.  The question was asked about how much input from all women was put into the scheduling.
  • Chris McGee (BRAC Executive Director) –  BRAC develops policy and functions based on clubs, where individual members have input.  There is a lot of balancing needed to create race schedules and policy.  This year, input was taken over the season and balanced.  We have been trying to avoid the scenario where one group is always starting last year to year.  There was a lot of feedback that women’s races should be in the morning.
  • Open discussion about the concern about uncoupling SW Open and the SM Open. Question – is there an opportunity to make the change and couple the races for this year, at least for the short-day schedule?  If changes can’t be made for this year, what can be done for next year?
  • The time of day doesn’t matter as much as the uncoupling. The concern is that women are seen as unimportant by uncoupling the men and women. Media coverage, photographers, and more spectators are there when the SM Open category races. This also helps women’s team get more sponsorships, which support women’s cycling. Changing the schedule will be tough to do because some registrations for upcoming cyclocross races have been sold already. The cross race schedule shouldn’t be all about attracting more racers, there should be also consideration for respect for elite women to race either just before or just after the elite men.  The races are coupled for the local UCI races  There are not many spectators at the morning races, which is when the SW Open are scheduled to race.  What happened to working your way up the schedule by category? 8:00 is good for new riders, no crowd to please, less pressure.  Suggestion that the sweet spot of the day is 10:00, but the issue is not about time.
  • The Women’s Cycling Assn. supports this measure to change the schedule as requested and couple the races.  A statement was made to respect the need to support women’s racing, along with the needs of other stakeholders. Sponsorship support is important to growing women’s cycling.  The elite women racers are often mentors and support sport development.  Usually 15 women race in the open women.
  • There is also a concern that many of the open women weren’t consulted for the schedule change. Concern was mentioned that the race schedule was only posted in July, but wasn’t sent out via an announcement or emails until a couple weeks before cross season. It was suggested that the best communication didn’t occur for the race schedule development. Those not involved with race community might not get the most communication needed to offer input. There wasn’t knowledge within BRAC that the elite women schedule issue was a concern, so extra communications weren’t done.
  • Why does BRAC create the cross schedule? Promoters asked for BRAC to set a schedule and racers appreciate racing at the same time all cross season. It was noted that road racing has variable schedules and cross has a fixed schedule.  A suggestion was made to allow promoters create their own schedules.
  • Yvonne – the problem is the timing of the request to change the schedule. Promoters go through big efforts to create schedules, even for one category schedule change.  They wouldn’t mind developing this schedule as requested if done early enough. Changing the 2013 schedule might be insurmountable.  If promoters don’t agree to change the schedule, promoters might waive their cup designation to keep same schedule.
  • Can the women be moved to be on the course the same time as the MM 35+?  Racing women and men groups together is tough, if so, women should go first. Should open women go with 35+_3 men, right before the SM open race? A lot of men racers support this effort to change the schedule.
  • Can we give promoters the option to flip the SM3/MM35+3 with the MW_35+/SW Open on the short-day schedule?  The problem will be that people are trained for their schedule.  But is that true for the short schedule? Does the Board need to consider this as legislation?
  • The big question is how to support all women to stay in racing.  Race day scheduling has a lot to do with helping support women’s racing so that women can move through the categories. If something can be worked out for promoters to accept, it can be considered. Need to investigate if promoters would support a schedule change.

Action items:

  • Develop a child care pilot at cross races this season.
  • Expand mentoring to more events in the road season, include mentoring in the cross season, and add mentoring to help cat 3’s move to cat 2.
  • Develop outreach and engagement activities with charity rides, develop a BRAC women’s ambassador team.
  • Host a BRAC ride (not a race).
  • Investigate if affected promoters would support a change in the cross short-day race schedule, swapping SM3/MM35+3 with the MW_35+/SW Open.
  • Initiate conversations early to ensure coupling of SW Open/MW 35+ with the SM Open for 2014 cross season.