Competition is good for you and the sport of bike racing. Why? Well, imagine how boring it would all be if we showed up on the same team? It also helps promote more events, sponsors, and bike-related activities. There is only so much one team can cover. Most local amateur bike racing teams are not owned and operated by someone that focuses solely on bike racing all day. Typically they are either bike-shop sponsored or company sponsored teams with a very few that are individually owned. In other words: most team owners and managers have a day job.
With that being said: it leaves room for other teams to pick up other sponsors, other events, and broaden the sport of bike racing.
What about your friends on the other team? Yes, of course you can have or make friends on other teams! I have lots of cycling friends and some race for other teams. I think that is wonderful! For one: I feel a lot safer racing around someone I know and two, I feel a lot better when a friend wins. I love bike racing and I especially love the social part of it. Good friendships are not made or broken by what team you race on. Friendly competition is possible, after all.
I think it is important to support one another in cycling – regardless of what team you are on. The current local culture of Houston women’s bike racing is wonderful. I started racing when that wasn’t necessarily the case. As a matter of fact: the elitist snobbery that I experienced 6 years ago was yet another nail in the coffin to convince me to take a few years out of racing. It wasn’t worth it. Racing is hard enough, women’s pay-out too small, and the support was so thin that competing had to be fun. So: if your fellow female racers were catty on top of it all … what’s the point of racing?
It was understandably discouraging for those racing as either independents, lone rangers on their team (I was the only female), or (especially) NEW RACERS. After a while, we started seeing fewer and fewer ladies racing which made it very hard to get sponsorship or support for women’s bike racing – let alone Cat up. Like it or not, every single one of us owe our ‘status’ and our rankings to everyone else we have raced with. Think about it: if you show up to race at an event and there are less than 5 people in your category – you don’t get any points to Cat up. If there are less than 5 people total: no one gets any points.
What’s the point?
Point is; you OWE it to every other female competitor at your event! I do my best to meet new faces at local events, introduce myself and thank them for being there. It’s all about support. It takes a lot of nerve to compete, to pin a number on, and put yourself out there. Lady cyclist don’t wake up one morning and say: “Gee, I’m bored and there’s nothing on TV, I think I’ll race today”. There’s risk involved for little reward. Those that are competing in women’s cycling events do it out of LOVE and passion for cycling. I believe that is one of the reasons that, if we allow it, we can all get along so well!
Face it: one of the best things in the world is riding your bike! How great is it that you can do that around other women that share the same passion as you? Competition is good for you. It’s important for the sport and it’s important for us, as fellow cyclists, to grow and nurture our relationships with one another. So, reach out – hug your competitor and your friends. Look out for one another and help each other along the way. Look for ways to balance the outreach into the non-competitive cycling community to promote the sport and encourage other intrepid ladies to participate! I think the cycling culture is one of the best in the world, so let’s keep it going!