Women in Cycling

Katie Archibald | Thursday 29th August, 2013

In the first draft of this blog entry my opening paragraph was about keeping up to date with Braveheart blogging. It had some high-larious word play involving bowel movements; the phrases ‘regular blogging’, ‘squeeze one out’ and ‘fibre of life’ were all used. Basically it was brilliant and you would have laughed. Unfortunately when I read it to Bob* his face fell off in horror and he couldn’t speak for minutes until finally the words that came out of his mouth were: you can’t talk about poo. 

I noticed an odour in the room. It wasn’t faecal jokes… it was the smell of sexism! I proceeded to throw Draft One of the blog onto my pile of burning bras and started afresh. I present to you: Draft Two!

Do you ever walk in front of an oncoming car because you’ve seen the lights go red and you assume the car will stop? Well sometimes I make a similar assumption about being a woman. I will go to the track without having shaved my legs or make a joke similar to ones made by male counter parts whilst assuming that those around me are down with gender equality. And then boom: I get hit by a car. They think you’re a bit weird, a bit freaky or just a bit ‘what are you doing?’. 

That is life at the moment; it’s being in a telesales office filled with women when the show rooms are filled with men. It’s being on nights out dressed as a Barbie doll when the men are dressed like Ken. And it’s being one of 15 women on the start line when the men’s race has 52. Or at least, it was. 

Women’s cycling takes a few hits for being bland or for being empty, but when I look back at my calendar for the last month that’s not what I see.

At the start of the month you may have seen the National Criterium Champs on the TV? The race was filled with attacks and exciting racing; it received equal coverage to the men’s race. Then a couple of weeks later was Boris Johnston’s RideLondon women’s crit. HUGE crowds lined the streets and cheered on the big names (Laura Trott, Hannah Barnes etc.) and once again, big TV coverage. I just received my price money in the post from RideLondon (for an intermediate sprint- don’t look up where I finished overall…) and though there was no men’s race to compare it to, the money was what you’d expect from a big national race. The Tour Series, the London Nocturne, the Milk Race: it’s all happening and times are good! I’m starting to feel like I should no longer bitch and moan about the people that bitch and moan (women’s cycling isn’t ‘ready’ to be equal to men’s) because it seems they’ve decided to watch and cheer instead.

By no means am I saying we’ve completed the gender equality jigsaw, the idea of a women’s TdF is still subject to much debate. But there’s no denying that we’ve got the corner pieces down, and maybe a few sections scattered about the board. Everyone knows that completing the sky is the hardest part but that’s why I prefer to play Sudoku and… what were we talking about again?

*I don’t know anyone called Bob, but my boyfriend (Kenny) said it wasn’t ok to use his name. 


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