Contributed by O2fitness athlete, Lucie Oren... Women’s professional cycling started strong in the 1970’s and was recognized as an Olympic sport in 1984. “Still, the pro women continue to struggle for fairness and recognition in this male dominated sport”. (Half the Road, 2014)
A few weeks ago, Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab and The Reno Wheelmen presented the documentary film, “Half the Road” in Reno, NV. This showing was to benefit Bike Like a Girl Cycling Camps and to spread awareness about the inequalities that professional women cyclists continue to face to this day. The event included not only the showing of Kathryn Bertine’s informative and most excellent documentary, but it also included a Women’s Cycling Panel Discussion.
As stated on halftheroad.com,
“Modern society believes that women hold up half the sky when it comes to equality and progression. So in the sport of professional cycling, why aren’t women receiving half the road?
HALF THE ROAD is a documentary film that explores the world of women’s professional cycling, focusing on both the love of sport and the pressing issues of inequality that modern-day female riders face in a male dominated sport. With footage from some of the world’s best UCI races to interviews with Olympians, World Champions, rookies, coaches, managers, officials, doctors and family members, HALF THE ROAD offers a unique insight to the drive, dedication, and passion it takes for a female cyclist to thrive. Both on and off the bike, the voices and advocates of women’s pro cycling take the audience on a journey of enlightenment, depth, strength, love, humor and best of all, change & growth.”
After the documentary, we were excited and grateful to have the opportunity for a panel discussion featuring current and past pro racers! This impressive panel included Julie Young, Inga Thompson, Kathryn Bertine (Half the Road), Robin Farina, and Alison Tetrick. The q&a covered various topics from each athletes’ past and current experiences in the pro racing environment and ended with the question, “how do I get my daughter more interested in the sport” from one of the dad’s in the audience.
This led to discussion of the Bike Like a Girl Cycling Camps, the beneficiary of the evening! Julie Young and Michelle Faurot are starting a pilot program here in the Reno/Sacramento area next year. Their goal is to replicate this program nationwide.
The camps will be for girls ages 12-15 and will run for 8 weeks. They will kick off with two half-day sessions over a weekend followed by a weekly evening clinic/ride. These camps will be supported by local retailer(s), local women team riders (Reno Wheelwomen, ya!), and Bike Like a Girl coaches. The program structure will include safe bike handling skills, working as a group/team, gaining confidence on the bike, and most importantly, having fun! The program goal is for girls to gain the skills and confidence to be able to take part in an event ride near the end of the 8 weeks. The girls would ride as a team focused on getting everyone to finish the target event.
What better way to kick-off the fundraising for camps that will teach and empower more girls on bikes than the showing of Kathryn Bertine’s documentary, Half the Road. In the world of professional cycling all male riders who reach the UCI Pro Continental level are allocated a minimum-wage annual base salary. In 2011, UCI President Pat McQuaid-the head of cycling’s international governing body was asked whether female professional cyclists at the Pro Continental level also deserve a minimum base salary. “ He answered, “I’m not so sure…Women’s cycling has not yet developed enough…”. Let us girls hope that with this revealing documentary and the birth of Bike Like a Girl Cycling Camps, awareness will continue to grow. And, young girls will become empowered, self-confident, and have the opportunity to discover the joys of riding a bike with others who love the sport!