A male teammate sent out the above link suggesting it as, “A little inspiration for the guys.” I spent a few minutes looking at the photos and watching one of the videos, and I have to say it was inspiring for me. You see, in my magic mirror, I see those women. Luckily, unlike the evil queen in Sleeping Beauty, I understand mirror tricks. So, I train hard to ride as well as I possibly can and I try my best to look presentable doing it. Yet, as I was looking at the site, I had a nagging feeling that something was just not right about it. It took some thinking to figure it out, but here it is-
Recently, my race team placed an order for custom cycling clothes. The catch was a ten piece per style minimum. We only have 5 women on our team, so that presented a problem. A company representative told our buyer that there was, “No significant difference,” between men and women’s clothing, “Just order a size smaller.” I knew that was not possible because, (I speak from direct observation here) men and women are built very differently. Sure enough, a quick look at the sizing charts on the company website told the whole story: women are not as large in the shoulders and larger in the hips proportionally to men and the sizing reflects that significant difference. I bet if I showed that rep the calendar website he might spend a half and hour or more watching those videos. Why couldn’t he spend a few minutes to get our women the information they needed to make an informed decision about their racing clothes?
Last summer I entered a race that the men on our team were doing. Victor, a new racer like me, is in the entry-level category 5 for men. They were doing one loop of the very challenging course. I was in the entry-level category, which for women is 4. We did two loops along with the cat 1/2/3 women. Many cat 4 dropped out, but a few of us did both loops, coming in as they were packing up the race site and most people had gone home. I bet if I showed the male race directors the calendar website they might spend a half and hour or more watching those videos. Why couldn’t they spend a few minutes considering the fairness of making novice women ride twice the distance of novice men?
So, you see, it’s not that I don’t understand that athletic women are attractive. I appreciate the admiration of the female form. But, I would like to believe that the package is not the only thing worth consideration. I understand there is a chicken and egg issue here- meaning that the inequality between men and women in bike racing, from prize money and sponsorship to race categories and rules, has something to do with the fact that there are simply fewer women athletes. But, I think if the men in decision making positions took a little more time to consider the needs of women athletes they might be able to make it a bit more attractive for potential competitors. Then, there might be more women racing- and more beautiful bodies in spandex to admire.