Today I raced the Damian McDonald Memorial Road Race in Eildon, in memory of a champion cyclist who lost his life in the Burnley Tunnel Disaster in 2007. Blackburn Cycling Club put on a great event. The weather was brilliant, the marshalls were plentiful and helpful, the Skyline course made me suffer... it was a fantastic day.
- Presentations. Blackburn CC did a fantastic job - all by volunteers. Chapeau!
I have a lot of time for club-run events. They are the product of a lot of time and effort by volunteers who give up their weekends so people like me can race. And I want to make it clear that Blackburn did a superb job.
However, I left the race feeling a little disappointed. While the top 3 elite men each received a trophy, prize goodies/money and were made to pose for a podium photo, the race organisers didn't even announce the names of the top 3 women. As the winner, I received $30 (race entry was $20). Given that the race course was 2 hours' drive away, I think I blew my net profit in petrol before I'd even left Melbourne.
I don't race for money. Anyone who says they do is either lying, a pro cyclist, or needs a real job. But I race my guts out, just like the men do. I give up other things in life to train and race. And I feel women's racing needs more respect.
Today, the top 3 place-getters in the women's RR world championships - Giorgia Bronzini, Marianne Vos and Ina Teutenberg - collectively called for the UCI to impose a minimum wage for female pro cyclists.
Here's a newsflash: Most PRO women do not get paid. Of the 15 or so Australian women who race overseas on professional teams, approximately 5 are on some kind of salary. As in maybe €5,000 per annum. Compare this with the men's equivalent (min wage ~ €5ok). Yes, it's a function of the sponsorship money that men's racing can generate, but once upon a time men didn't get paid either. And we called it the Dark Ages.
Clubs are always saying how they would like women's fields to be bigger. I would love more women to race against. But I can't see how women are going to be incentivised to race when they are treated as participants in a support race.
There is a huge opportunity for clubs to take the lead on this. Some I know of are great at devoting resources to women's racing and giving us a chance to take ourselves seriously. It doesn't take much - a couple of minutes at presentations, an extra line in the race report - but it means a lot to us.