Thursday, January 17, 2008

Great Group Discussion

Around 16 ladies showed up last night for our track meeting and we made some head way! We came up with some solid solutions to some of the issues I mentioned in my previous post and also came up with some new ideas to improve track racing overall.

So - here's the skinny:

Cat 3 ladies are in an odd position if we do not offer a women's only elite field - they are intimated of racing with the men yet need to improve their skills by racing with people better than them. (One woman was so frustrated racing with the men last year, she obtained a downgrade.) To lessen the gap between the recently upgraded cat 3's and the 1/2's, the cat 3's can still race on Wednesdays with the Cat 4's in a combined and separately scored race. The catch - they will be in restricted gearing (say an 81") and will not gain any points toward an upgrade. As an incentive to get the 3's up and racing on Friday nights, we are going to offer Cat 3 only primes. We thought this was the best solution to getting the 3's showing up regularly to Friday nights and still allow those who are timid of racing under the lights or who want more practice the ability to do so on Wednesdays.

We talked about creating a distribution list where we can check to see who's going to show up on Friday nights - but really we thought the onus is on the teams to get their teammates out there and participate. If this means offering more ladies only track classes to introduce the roadies to track then we have more than enough volunteers and able bodies to make it happen. Teams just need to pick a date that doesn't conflict with something already happening on the track and we'll make it happen.

We also talked about making Sunday's a regular thing - say showing up for the Woody workout and having someone take lead for the women. More time in the saddle on the track means the better you'll get.

And one of my favorite ideas - mentors for Wednesday nights. A few ladies already volunteered to show up - basically they would provide answers to new female racers. Things such as what to expect in the race, what to do in certain situations, race analysis, etc. The mentor would tell the registration table that they are the mentor that night and if any new people showed up to direct them to them. Hopefully with more support people will gain the confidence and take out some of the learning curve in making them competitive.

We did have a few teams absent from the meeting - and as a group we wondered how we can get more of them involved. That remains a little bit of an issue - but hopefully the word will spread about the awesome support people get at the track and they'll start showing up.

I may be forgetting something - I'm a little busy at work right now. A tenant filed bankruptcy and abandoned all of their stuff. I've been going through it all and recycling a ton of sales information. Apparently these people didn't believe in getting rid of anything (I've seen stuff from 1999!). Know anyone who needs staplers and office supplies?


Michele said...

Sorry to have missed Jen, kids and homework...

I intend on being back at the track this season. I have been talking it up on rides with the ladies from my team, hopefully a few will take the class and get out there. I will do what I can to help promote it within my team. Lots of good ideas, I really like the idea of the mentors on Wednesdays.

I think it is really important to emphasize getting women out on practice nights/weekends as well as the races to give them more time and confidence on the track.

Looking forward to a fun season!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jen, I joined the Tamarack team here in Boise a little while after you left for Seattle, and just upgraded to Cat 3 last summer. I whole-heartedly second the motions to creatively ease the high-stress learning curve that most of us are experiencing on the 4-3 upgrade. It's certainly causing a lot of washouts in our Cat 3 field, which is nearly non-existant at this point.
Idaho is starting a program called SWICA Velo Women to encourage female racers and to work with the race organizers in hopes of making more 3/4 or even 2/3 races in the valley.
Anyway, I just wanted to drop a kudos to you for what you're doing. I look forward to reading about the progress!
-Sarah Brown
p.s. Also, I love all the pictures from your world travels!

Gilby said...

Thanks for sharing. It's really cool to read about all the growth in women's numbers at your track!

We haven't seen much progression to the elite ranks from our track, at least not during the 3 years I've been racing. It's seen as a luxury to even have an open women's field, as the guys see our women's field as a joke (eg cut the 40 lap scratch race to a chariot, because it's boring to watch 6 women race). Yet it's seen as sacrilege to short the women's field by racing with the guys--especially if you're not in contention for the win.