La Course and Half the Road

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Last night the Mad City Velo club hosted a viewing of “Half the Road”, a documentary by Kathryn Bertine. Kathryn is a seasoned professional cyclist who spent many months, if not years, traveling around the world to participate in women’s cycling races sanctioned by the UCI in hopes of qualifying for the Olympics.

Not only does the documentary tell Kathryn’s story, but also stories of many seasoned pro women cyclists and how the world of competitive cycling is still in the dark ages when it comes to equality in the sport.

The documentary showcases additional interviews with supporters and advocates of women’s cycling including coaches, trainers, shop owners, sponsors, celebrities, and the famous Bob Roll (Tour de France announcer).

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have representatives from the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) who defend their archaic stances on women’s cycling as a competitive sport. They cite lack of sponsorship dollars, lack of spectator interest,  and lack of elite level athletes as the root cause of having no equal platform of stage racing for women’s cycling. All falsehoods promoted by the figureheads of the UCI to create epic gender inequalities in the sport of cycling.

If you see the film, you should definitely pay attention to the “Pentagram of Blame”. It all starts and ends with the UCI blaming other outlets such as sponsors, riders, and media for their lack of commitment to women riders.

Fun facts we learned from the documentary include:
-Women can only ride 8 day stage races. (The men’s Tour de France spans 21 days)
-There are limitation on distances of any UCI women’s race.
-There was a median age rule that stated teams must have a certain percentage of riders under the age of 28 (this has since been lifted).
-At one point the UCI considered telling women who were menstruating that they couldn’t compete!
(We’re glad to say this never ended up becoming a rule!)
-Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s there was a shorter version of the Tour de France stage race for women that occurred on the same days and courses as the men’s race. Spoiler Alert: The spectators LOVED it!

There’s lots of other unsettling information “Half the Road” covers in the documentary, but we’ll leave that up to you to watch. While the film is hard hitting with seemingly depressing information, Bertine and the other subjects are able to present the information with some comic relief. Parodies of the UCI rules and racing circumstances had filled the theater with laughter on many occasions.

Overall the film was a great watch and we would recommend it for any sports fan.

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Since we are on the subject, we also want to plug LA COURSE! It’s a one day race for women during the 2014 Tour de France. It’s not quite the awesome version of the stage races of the 80’s, but it’s at least one way the UCI can make up for their lackluster support of women racers.

NBC sports is offering coverage of the race, so check with your local cable provider or bike shop if you’d like to watch the race! Coverage starts around 7:30AM (not sure what time zone, which is a little frustrating), but if you don’t mind being an early bird, you can watch it LIVE!

Summer Bike Events & UPDATES!

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted an update. Our summer has been jam packed with cycling events around Madison. Everything from Cyclofemme to Fix A Flat Clinics to Sunday morning brunch rides has kept us busy!

We’re still in the planning process of trying to get an awesome and unique women’s only shop in Madison, but part of our planning is getting our name out to the world. Spoke Haven has been working with key partners such as the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Team Luna Chix, Wheels & Reels, the City of Madison, and other community leaders to make this all happen. So far we’ve received great feedback and support from every person we’ve worked with up to this point and it’s all very exciting.

Our goal is to continue to help not only offer fun cycling events for women in our community, but to also support others who want to help promote cycling for fun, for sport, and as a mode of transport. We want more butts on bikes and we can’t make that happen unless we all support one another.

Spoke Haven will continue to provide support and educational resources through the end of the year. We’ll continue with workshops through the winter, indoor training opportunities, and planning of events for next year’s riding season. We also plan on continue to change and mold our business plan to provide the best possible scenario for us to thrive. There’s still plans of running a crowd funding campaign to offer up fun and unique incentives for those who want to support us. We’re also selling our awesome jerseys (seen in the photos above) in our online store for those who want to show their support. They were made for us by Borah Teamware (aka Mt. Borah) right here in Wisconsin. Full zip, fully custom jerseys with a club cut for comfort. Men’s and women’s sizes available!

We’re looking into getting some other fun Spoke Haven branded gear made up that’s a little more pocket book friendly, but in the meantime continue to keep an eye on our online store and check us out on social media or Meetup.com for info on upcoming events.

Thank you to all of you who have been supportive and have come out to all of our events. We cannot express how amazing it feels to be able to provide women a place to be social, have fun, and ride bikes!

See you on the road 🙂

Half the Road

Half the Road is a newly released documentary written and directed by Kathryn Bertine. The film includes interviews with a wide range of cycling professionals, governmental leaders, celebrities, and other representatives within the cycling world all discussing the gender inequality taking place in the sport. Not only is the nature of professional cycling discussed, but the sports industry in general.

Women are severely lacking in the sponsorship and media support that male sporting events and athletes have garnered for years. Half the Road bravely dives into the world of the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and gets to the root of the issue on the topic of inequality in the sport of cycling.

If you enjoyed the trailer and would like to watch the film, Wheel & Sprocket is hosting a viewing in Milwaukee on May 1st. Please visit the Facebook event page for more info.