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!

I Love Girl Riders: Inspirational Celebration of 2013

Not going to lie, this video made us tear up a bit. We love seeing women cyclists being celebrated and our hope is that the sport and the activity of cycling continues to grow in 2014! Enjoy.

www.ilovegirlriders.com

For the Ladies: Madtown Maidens Alleycat/Ride

As you can see from our previous post, Wisconsin has no shortage of cycling/bike related events. With that being said, there are few that truly cater to the female cyclist. Some women have no issue riding in male dominated events, but others can find it intimidating and enjoy the camaraderie of an all lady event.

Lucky for us, we have the Madtown Maidens alleycat/ride. For those not in the know, an alleycat is an unsanctioned cycling race filled with fun pit stops on the route. The pit stops include anything from writing haiku’s to solving puzzles or even showing off some bike knowledge. Usually the races are in the spirit of fun and not to be stressed over. There’s almost always a beer/coffee sponsor and some sweet prizes for top riders or for riders with enthusiasm.

We took the opportunity to chat with Madtown Maidens founder, Kierstin Kloeckner, on what motivated her to start the event and to see who the race supporters are. A little background on Kierstin, she’s a yoga/fitness instructor at a local Madison athletic club, avid cyclist, occasional Wisconsin Bike Fed blogger, and all around wonderful supporter of the local cycling/outdoor community. (Check out her blog!) Here’s what Kierstin had to say about Madtown Maidens:

Three years ago, after being terribly jealous of Minneapolis having an all women’s bike event, I decided to start one here in Madison.  Babes in Bikeland (the Minneapolis event) was my inspiration.  Kayla Dotson started it about six years ago and they often have over 400 women show up at the starting line.  I felt  women needed more events just for them since cycling has been such a male dominated sport.  When I started racing in the 80’s, I was one of the only junior female racers in the Twin Cities area and was forced to train and race with boys.  I wanted to get women and girls, of every ability, out on two wheels.  I wanted them to discover the joy of riding with a group of women and chose to have most of the volunteers be men.  I set the cut off limit to 100–that’s where it still stands–and was floored by it filling the first and second year.  Although it has been a lot of hard work, the volunteers and sponsors have been so kind and helpful.  Just seeing so many women with smiles while riding makes me want to continue putting the event on.

This year, Milwaukee has joined in and has started their own female/transgender alleycat.  My hope is that it’s contagious and spreads.  I truly feel events like this inspire women to embrace the sport as their own.

As I said before, I couldn’t do this event without my volunteers and sponsors.  This year, Martha Laugen, the former Madison Bike Fed Ambassador, is helping me put Madtown Maidens on.  Nathan Vergin and Lisa Snyder will be taking pictures and I’ll have roughly 15-20 guys working checkpoints and helping out with the after party.  Each year, I change the start/finish location.  This year, Machinery Row has graciously donated their space for the start and after party.  I receive donations from bike companies like Fyxation,Velocity,Hell Yes!, All-City, and Stray Cat Bicycles.  Food comes from Foodfight, Barriques, Dominoes and Willy St. Co-op.  Other donations include beer from Ale Asylum and gift cards from Century House, Harbor Athletic Club and Monkey Bar.  Finally, Adam Turman donates a piece of his artwork each year for our use for free. 

We’ve also gotten wind that Knog has recently agreed to be a product sponsor as well as the Wisconsin Bike Fed and Saris Cycling Group. This year’s event is taking place Saturday, May 4th. SAVE THE DATE! You won’t be sad that you did 🙂

Check out the photos below for some awesome alleycat action. Photos are property of Madtown Maidens and their respective photographers. Please don’t use without permission!

Thanks again to Kierstin for hosting this wonderful event and giving us the rundown! We hope to be a part of the event in some capacity whether it’s racing, taking some photos, or pitching in another way. Keep an eye on the Madtown Maidens Facebook page for sign up information!