Triathlon v Cycling… Accessibility

I’ve had this conversation three times in the last few months, who is the most friendliest out of Triathlete’s and Cyclists? Over the last few months I’ve also been discussing with friends the accessibility of cycling and triathlon; basically trying to decide which one has the least barriers to encourage participation.

I’m going to jump right in and say Triathlon is the most friendly sport out of the two, mostly because I find the sport so much less intimidating than I do cycling. I find cycling to be so intimidating, that’s right, me finds it intimidating. But let’s be clear and straight up, that when I mean Cycling and Triathlon I do mean racing; I’m not referring to the social side of it.

Triathlon is a sport that although you need a car load of stuff to do it, the likely hood is that you’ve got most of the stuff and you might just need to buy your entry fee. Or you can borrow a bike from a friend or a neighbor or even a work mate. What’s cool about triathlon is there appears to be all sorts of people having a go; tall people, short people, fat people, not-so-fat people, former fat people, former smokers and life changers.

The reasons why Triathlon it isn’t accessible:

  • Um well it is, you can by a day license with Triathlon Australia every single time you compete
  • Alright, fine, entry fee’s aren’t that cheap… between $50.00 to $1000.00 but that’s $50.00 for a sprint (little one) with the roads closed and $1000.00 for an Ironman, we’re talking full road closures for the entire event
  • But still you don’t have to buy a full licence… not ever

Cycling on the other hand is a bit different, you’ve got to have the right bike to start racing and I don’t mean bling bikes, I mean you’ve got to have a drop bar road bike. Which I totally understand for racing purposes as it would be too dangerous to ride with so many different bikes. So sure, most people start out doing Grand Fondo’s and Sportiff’s before they take the next step up to cycle racing.

But it’s not just the bike that’s a hurdle, when you go to race in certain states of Australia you’ve got to either wear club kit or you’ve got to wear plain kit with minimal advertising, now I was thinking about this the other day and sure I get it and understand why, but… imagine rocking of for the lower levels, for say Women’s C and D grade where the number are low and not even knowing about the rule.

Say this next part in one breath, really fast… it might take a few goes, but you can do it.

Not only are you scared shitless about doing your first race but you’re now also intimidated because you don’t have the right kit and you wore your GreenEdge kit because you want to support them and had no idea because the rule isn’t written anywhere especially not on the advertising for the race or the club website or the facebook page and it’s not even easy to find on the Cycling Australia Website…

The rule exists, trust me, I’m the person who reads the product disclosure on credit card statements.

I also know that clubs who put on the races are discrete about it and will let it go the first few times, which is great, but do you know how much it costs to race your bike?

There is a reason why it isn’t accessible:

  • Elite Race License $339.87 (depends on the club, some are a bit cheaper or more expensive)
  • Masters $259.20 (over 30 for women and over 35 for men)
  • 3 Ride Temporary Membership $44.00 (only one per person – if you want to continue you have to pay for a full license and they will take the $44.00 of the license fee)
  • Racing Day Membership $33.00 (but I can’t find out if you can only have one or if you can keep buying them – we can agree this isn’t cost-effective)
  • Add the cost of the club kit on there which will say $180.00 for this example and you’re starting to think how can I afford the $20.00 entry…

I don’t think Cycling Australia even has a link on their website called, “Your first race… things you should know.” I looked. I didn’t look hard, but to me it should be easy to find and easy to read and well… easy. I also looked on Cycling WA’s page and they’re essentially the same, the rules about the clothing is abundantly clear but essentially there isn’t anything there helping you get to your first race apart from a bunch of links to click and email address.

Let’s be honest, how many times have you shy’d away from sending an email cause you were too afraid to ask? Or you didn’t know how to word it? Or you send an email and you never get a reply.

So I went over to Triathlon Australia’s website to have a look to see if they have anything to help you get started for your first Triathlon.

Under the Get Involved Tab, you can choose What is Triathlon? The Triathlon Pathway, Triathlon Clubs. There are a total of 10 options including the ones I mentioned and guess what? A training program for your first triathlon, it doesn’t get easier than that, but how do you train for you first criterium?

A few minor changes please… 

  1. That rule about kit shouldn’t apply to the two lowest grades for each gender and it should be written clearly on the Cycling Australia and into it’s charter or rule book or whatever it’s thing is.
  2. There should be details on the Cycling Australia webpage about what you should know or have heading into your first race. How many people know that you shouldn’t be carry a saddle bag or lights when you do a criterium?
  3. There should be a meeting place for newbies heading into their first crit with an experienced rider who can answer questions about how long the race goes for and what happens when the bell rings.

Why?

  1. Remember what it was like to show up to a new job or the first day of school or the first day of uni? At least there you probably had an induction and got shown around, unless you know someone there’s no way you’re getting a guided tour of the crit circuit.
  2. Prepare for a triathlon and someone is probably advertising a free session with a pro where they will show you around the course and tell you where all the exits are, I did my first transition tour with Chris Macca McCormack how cool is that!
  3. Because someone who likes to be informed will come along and read the entire website, find that they don’t have the right stuff, not be aware that the club has discretion and they won’t race.

I love cycling, totally love it, think it’s the best thing in the world but I can see the issues that women AND men would face heading into their first race; mostly because I’ve experienced all those things above.

Communication is the foundation of any successful organisation and to inform one’s current and future members, will empower them to be at the start line. I believe in the constant improvement of myself, which is part of the reason why I also believe that an organisation should constantly be improving, progressing and evolving. Too often we stand aside and avoid change because someone says no to the bright spark that just rocked up, why not harness the spark’s idea’s and find a way to make it happen; they’re obviously keen and believe. Truth is, other people will succeed where you will not, they will know something different and have experienced different things which will make them more successful than you.

Did I spell Triathlete’s wrong on the first paragraph or does spell check not know they exist?

Finding my Mojo

A few months ago I decided to go back to cycling, I’d had a good crash and had broken some ribs training for another half Ironman. I sold my bike and bought a new one, however I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to ride my bike again.

I bought a Specialized Amira and I feel as though it’s opened up a whole new world for me and my cycling. I feel comfortable on my bike, I feel comfortable in the drops, I’m comfortable with sprinting in the drops; I was never able to do this on my previous bike. The other bike was clearly too big and wrong for me, mix that with a bike shop who didn’t really want to help me and I had the wrong gear.

Some how I got talked into a Monday morning recovery ride by friend Brooke and the group of women I rode with were nice [really nice]. I had been missing that camaraderie that I had experienced from women in Melbourne and I’d not really felt it when I arrived in Perth just over two years ago, I’d even been told,

“Women don’t want to race…”

I got disheartened in Perth’s cycling scene pretty quickly because of the above, hence the two year hiatus, but I want to race now, so I put on my big girl panties and lined up… was I scared? I pretended I wasn’t, even telling friends who were entering Women’s D Grade that it would be fine and they would have a great time! First race I got 4th, then two 2nd places, it was enough for me to win the Smashfest Criteriums overall for Women’s C Grade. I have been so inspired by Veronica Michich and what she has achieved over the past few years, that I’m hoping some of her spark wears off onto me; do read her blog from the beginning to end.

Now it seems that the scene in Perth is changing and with some encouragement we’re starting to get double digits at our Monday morning recovery ride, obviously the 4 grades of women’s cycling for the most recent Smashfest series was outstanding, but just having a women’s ride that is consistent is a big deal in this town. I do know that asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission; full steam ahead.

THE RIDE: Mondays Women’s recovery ride leaves from behind Frasers in Kings Park, we’ll be near the toilet block and we leave at 6am, I can’t stress enough that we stay together, I’m the ride leader most weeks unless I’m out of town, and nobody get’s left behind. We aim to ride no faster than 25km/h [average] and I like to hang out at the back keeping an eye on cars and riders. It’s a 25km ride and it’s an out and back course, we take the river route and turn at the Boys School. We’re back to Kings Park at about 7am, we head to Riverview cafe at the bottom of Mount Street for coffee.

Monday morning recovery ride is the best way to start the day and the week in a positive way.

Occasionally if I think I have something to say about cycling then I’ll put it here, I won’t be interviewing anyone anymore so feel free to tune out if this isn’t your thing. If you want to contribute about your cycling journey then that’s cool as well, got any other ideas? I’d love to hear it.

I do have uni to consider, I work full time, my partner wants to qualify for the World Long Course Championships and I want to win a bunch of stuff as well, so there isn’t a heap of time left in my day.

Amazing what happens when you turn 30… who new it would be this good?

Dear Friends of SheRides Cycling

Dear Friends of SheRides Cycling

It is with a heavy heart and an open mind that I announce to you the closure of SheRides Cycling.

It will not be a surprise to some of you who are regular readers and close friends, but, to those of you I don’t know personally it will be a surprise and perhaps a shock.

It’s not an immediate thing, it will happen slowly over the remainder of 2012 as I still have articles that need/should be published. I still have women who I’ve said I will interview and one woman (Alicia) who I want you all to know, she has six kids and she’s taken up cyclocross, she’s from America and I only know her from Twitter but she’s a bright light; I think she will inspire you, she inspires me and I want to be her friend for years to come. I have words sitting in my inbox from Australian Jayme Paris, Bronze Medalist at London 2012 and I think she’s a super star!

SheRides Cycling will always be here, it wont cease to exist, but at some point this year there will be no more new articles.

I’m not doing Mandurah 70.3, I read this blog today and made my decision after reading it.

I don’t want to race.

Instead I’m going to run. A lot.  Wherever I can. Whenever I want to. As far as I like. No coach. No plan.

I’m not giving it up because I haven’t enjoyed it, I’ve loved it, I’ve loved being apart of your lives and I thank you for all your encouragement.

I thank you for sharing.

Best regards

Rowena Scott

City of Stirling – Wheelie Wonderful Women

I’ve stolen this from a website/blog written by Andrew (Aushiker from one of the forums I visit from time to time), I did a few years ago interview Joanne about this program for Bicycles Network Australia, not to be confused with Bicycle Network Victoria. Sorry for stealing it Andrew but I saw that there was a tight deadline… you can email me to go mad at me if you like (she says smiling nicely).

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The City of Stirling is planning the next round of the Wheelie Wonderful Women riding groups and would like to invite ladies to express their interest in participating.  There is a short deadline on this one I am afraid as Joanne Burgess, TravelSmart Officer at the City of Stirling would like to hear from you by close of business Friday October, 5, 2012.

Wheelie Wonderful Women is a 12 week social riding program which is aimed at improving participants your cycling skills, improve their fitness, introduce them to many new friends, and take them to beautiful places around Perth that they didn’t know existed.

Each week the riding group will go for a ride somewhere in Perth under the tuition of a professional cycle coach. The rides will start short and easy, but as the weeks go by they will increase in distance duration and skill level. All the rides will be on shared paths, however they may go on-road towards the end of the 12 weeks if the riders are happy and comfortable for this to happen, and if the coach believes that the group has the necessary skills.

Each week the session will include some time dedicated to building cycling skills and increasing bike handling proficiency, so that the riders are in charge of their bikes, not the other way around. This will occur as a dedicated session at the start of each ride, plus the coach will ride along and help with any areas of difficulty that riders may be having.

The rides will be in a different location each week, and details of where and when will be emailed out to riders in advance. There is a requirement to transport one’s bicycle to and from the ride start location each week. A small number of bicycles and bike carriers for cars may be available for loan. The rides will start early in the morning so that they are finished by the time it gets hot. As a guide, week 1 you may start at 8 AM but by week 12 it is likely that you will starting at 7 AM. Exact times will be discussed by the whole group of ladies taking part and a time that suits the majority of people will be agreed to.

Wheelie Wonderful Women is a 12 week program and as such you need to complete all 12 weeks. Of course, if you are ill or have a last minute emergency you do not need to attend, but you need to be prepared to commit to completing as many of the 12 rides as you can. You cannot simply opt in and out each week as you feel like.

Wheelie Wonderful Women in a really fun cycling program and is loved by all the ladies who have taken part so far. It is aimed at beginner cyclists, the rides are slow and there is no lycra in sight!

There is no charge to take part.

The City of Stirling is currently deciding when to run the groups and dates are not yet confirmed. However they are considering a new program with a start date of October 15, 2012, subject to enough interest.

Therefore, if you are interested in taking part in this program could you please email Joanne Burgess, TravelSmart Officer at the City of Stirling and answer the following questions for Joanne. Joanne will then determine if their is sufficient interest for the program to go ahead, and will get back to those that express an interest with final details of if and when the program will run.

Please reply by close of business Friday 5th October, 2012 so that Joanne can confirm details on Monday October 8, 2012.

The details/questions you need to answer are:

  • Your name:
  • Which day(s) would you be free to take part? Please choose from the following options: Wednesday morning. Friday morning. Saturday morning. Sunday morning.
  • Can you currently perform these skills on your bicycle?
  • Stopping safely in a controlled manner. Yes / No / not sure
  • Signalling with both hands Yes / No / not sure
  • Looking behind you while riding in a straight line Yes / No / not sure
  • Using your gears efficiently. Yes / No / not sure

If you have any questions about this program please feel free to give Joanne a ring on 08 9345 8910.

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Specialized-lululemon pledged to raise $100,000 for Right To Play

It is without a doubt that Team Specialized-lululemon is the best team in the world in the women’s peloton. They market themselves well, they have strong relationships with the people and the companies that sponsor them, they’re a powerhouse and a positive example for women’s cycling and women. Forget about the fact that they win (important sure), but they do good things, they’re inspiring women and at SheRides Cycling we  love love love that they’re inspiring women because we hope to do the same.

They talk about their racing and their experiences from races that we don’t see from a lot of other teams, it doesn’t take a lot to write some words and connect with people (teams take note).

Team Specialized-lululemon have now taken it one step further and pledged to raise $100,000 for the Right to Play.

I’ve taken this next insert from their website to tell you who they’re and what they do:

Right To Play is a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity in more than 20 countries. A pioneer in its field, Right To Play uses sport and play as tools to build essential life skills and create social change, impacting 835,000 children each week. Founded in 2000 by four-time Olympic gold medalist and social entrepreneur Johann Olav Koss, our programs are facilitated by nearly 12,000 volunteer Coaches.

I’ve taken this from the Team Specialized-lululemon website

This year Team Specialized-lululemon has pledged to raise $100,000 for Right To Play that will go towards its efforts in Rwanda. The money will come from prize money, a big auction that will take place after the season and now with our TTT World Championship Pledge. We ask you to join us in helping the children of Rwanda by agreeing to donate a small amount of money based on our result in this Inaugural event.

We have been dedicating a lot of time to prepare for the TTT and we are aiming for victory.  On the start list we have Charlotte Becker, Amber Neben, Evelyn Stevens, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Ellen Van Dijk and Trixi Worrack.

If we win a donation of $50 is suggested, $20 for a silver medal and $10 for Bronze.  You can also choose an alternative amount to contribute.

Visit our donation page on the Right To Play site HERE

I am on holidays (and wont be replying to any emails, tweets or Facebook messages) but saw this in the cycling news and knew that we had to pass it on, on behalf of SheRides Cycling I will personally donate $50.00 to the cause regardless of whether they place first, last or don’t finish… just as long as they start!

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Women’s Club Forum

For the second year running I went along to a relatively new initiative by Cycling Victoria in the Womens Club Forum.  The intention of the forum, among other things, is to share ideas between club representatives to improve the female membership base of clubs, and address issues that some club members find as barriers to the increase in female membership.

Everyone that went along had their own agenda.  For some, it was to understand how others have increased their own female member base. For others, it was to understand how to change the attitudes of their members to give women some focus. As the organiser of the Women’s Grand Prix, my agenda was simple: understand what women need, and create something special  and tailored specifically for women.  

After presenting the inaugural Grand Prix last season, more than ever, it was important to reaffirm those elements of the Grand Prix that women felt were so important in the first place, so as not to lose focus on the end goal.

Special guest presenters in this year’s forum were Liz Hall and Laurie Lovelock from the Hawthorn Cycling Club.  Following on from a presentation from the women’s ‘powerhouse’ club, in StKilda Cycling Club at last year’s event was going to be hard to beat. But Liz declared the last 12 months as a success, having pushed membership from a paltry five members in early 2011 to nearly 30.

Success isn’t without failure however, and there have been a few- beginners training rides in the middle of winter didn’t work. Advanced training rides didn’t either. Indoor spin classes and social coffees and lunches are a resounding success! As is providing some focus on ‘challenge’ rides and not just racing.

The result: no team in the Victorian Club Teams Time Trial last season, four teams this season, including a medal!

For me, the key continues to be to provide women with an opportunity to be part of something special- that doesn’t matter if it’s your first time racing, or your five hundredth. It is about giving women an opportunity to be the headine event, giving them an environment within which they can enjoy, learn, and perform their best. And in doing so, show the world how exciting women’s cycling can be.

For all their criticisms, this is one thing that Cycling Victoria have got absolutely right. They have engaged the right people and put the resources into the right areas to create something special. Everyone involved in cycling in Victoria can feel it. There is a groundswell of support for it, and the benefits will extend way beyond club level. If I was a betting man, I’d be looking to put money on Victoria dominating the women’s divisions of all disciplines at national championship level for the next ten years at least.
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Rob Carson is the owner of Cykel, and organiser and promoter of the Women’s Grand Prix.  He can be found at www.cykelevents.com.au, also @cykelevents on Twitter and Facebook.  

The Women’s Grand Prix criterium series will be run during the 2012-13 summer in Victoria, and invites all women, from novices to professionals, including those interstate and overseas to be a part of it.

*Photo – Gavin Wright