Friday Link Love

Sorry internet readers, but both articles today are downers. You’ve been warned.

Earlier this week a link got sent around on a list-serv I’m on to report to Facebook a page called ‘Black People with Bikes that Aren’t Theirs.’ It was one of the most enraging things I’ve seen in a long time. The page took photos of people of color with bikes from the internet, and then would put captions on them insinuating that the bike must be stolen. Sahra Sulaiman put a write-up about the page on Streets Blog LA called ‘Filed Under: Ugly Things You Find on the Interwebs.’ Gah. So many enraging things about this. Read the article and get angry.

Next, huge props to Colin who wrote ‘US Cyclocross National Travesty Report: Junior Girls.’  I don’t know a ton about cyclocross or how it all works (lapping? pulling people? how you set the time of a course? if someone wants to explain this to me plz help me out), but even I know that what happened to the Junior Girls races at Nationals last week in Austin sounds whack. If you haven’t heard, there were some issues with the race and people who like trees and all the races had to be pushed back and condensed. This meant that the 4 junior races had to be condensed into 2. Here’s the breakdown:

There were three possible solutions to this puzzle, all of which had some problems:

(A) Gender equality!  All Junior Women run at the same time;  all Junior Men run at the same time!
– problem:  this puts 136 Junior Men on course at once
(B) Age equality!  All 15-16 year olds run at the same time;  all 17-18 year olds run at the same time!
– maybe a problem?  this puts 105 15-16 year olds on course at once.
(C) Screw it, let’s just try to minimize how many people are on the course at once.  15-16 men get their own start (84 men) and then everyone else goes later (17-18 M, 17-18 W, 15-16 W :  96 starters)
– problem:  18 year old boys are going to lap the everloving shit outta 15 year old girls

Which solution do you think is the best?  Which do you think the organizers (USA Cycling/Cadence Sports) chose?

Who am I kidding, you already know what happened.  They chose (c), because who gives a shit about the girls’ race!

And guess what happened — 11 out of 18 of the 15-16 year old women got pulled at the end of lap one.  

Colin does a great job going on to explain why this was terrible and a demonstrated pattern of USA Cycling not valuing junior girls and women’s racing.

After reading the article I broke my number 1 rule about the internet: I read the comments. In this case it was all people agreeing with Colin and telling story after story of their experiences getting shit on by USA Cycling in women and junior girls races. To be honest, it was pretty depressing. Earlier this year I had thought about trying cyclocross, now I don’t want to.

After reading the comments, it made me reflect on my experiences in bike polo. I’ve been known to be outspoken about polo and sexism, but woah this article made me feel like we are way ahead of cyclocross. First off, the article and many of the comments, take as basic fact that 1. there are only 2 genders and 2. that women are inherently slower racers than men. Both those premises bother me. Where do gender queer athletes fall in cyclocross? What about kickass women who beat men? The sport is always segregated into two gender categories with an underlying assumption that women can’t compete with men. That is something I love about bike polo, everyone plays together (and yes, podiums at the top tournaments are often filled with cis-men, but everyone competes together).

USA Cycling responded and basically said that their goal at Nationals is to ‘protect the integrity of the podium’ and to make sure the leaders don’t need to go through too much traffic. But clearly what they meant is their goal is to ‘protect the integrity of the boys podium because who gives a shit about the girls race and podium.’

As a co-worker said when we were discussing this – ‘all elite racing is weird.’

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