Womens Cycling- Just a thought

Just a thought…  We need to do better.

***Updated***
after a bit of discussion around the post we had a win.



I’ve entered next weekends road race up in the Hunter.  I’m there to be social.  They said key words like coffee and BBQ.  My Club, St George CC put a call out for club members to enter.  Before I knew it, I was entered. 

But I’m not a person you need to convince to race.  I’ve been venturing out into road stuff this year after a couple years MIA.  Because of covid, my track races are few and far between, opening my weekends up for ‘other’ racing, just to be social. 

So what’s my rant, problem, thoughts…

After sharing the link to the race to a few mates, I noticed a disclaimer.  Bold text, bright red.  It was a firm warning that if the women’s divisions did not get 15 riders, the women would not be catered for. 
I know that’s not what the text is, but that’s how you read it. 

This has really irked me.  I didn’t know why at first.  But after re-reading it, I have a few points to note. 

Women’s Divisions – require minimum of 15 riders for each event to proceed. Event’s will be reviewed once entries close

  • Why is it only the women’s divisions singled out? 
  • Why does CNSW assume they won’t get women’s entries?
  • Why isn’t anyone doing something to change this?
  • Why are the women being threatened with no racing if they can’t get numbers?
  • Why would a div 3 rider even bother to enter if she knew her event might not proceed?

I know that this is a valid disclaimer.  I can’t remember the last time I saw 45 women at a state event.  To be fair, I haven’t been around the road scene much so I’m most probably wrong in my observations.  But if I’m feeling this way, what luck do other riders have. 

If you are new to racing, the idea of racing a state open, against true Div 1 riders, is scary (been there, done that).  You’ll probably get dropped; you might get yelled at.  Being new sucks.  And knowing you might end up in a higher grade, or worse, racing with the guys.  I would probably pass on the event. 

I’m not saying racing the guys is bad, I’m also not saying new riders are slow.  I’m also not assuming not all Div 3 riders are new.  There is a full spectrum of abilities, experience, confidence and speed that needs to be catered for and having a bright red bold warning, before you even enter, it really does nothing to promote the sport to the non elite riders. 

It’s telling the lower division women, if they don’t ensure 15 entrants, the event will not proceed with a division catered to their abilities.  They’ll get thrown in somewhere…

That’s not good enough. 

So what can we do? 

I’m going to refer to the Cycling South Australia Women’s Racing Best Practice.  More importantly, why is this not a national policy!  This alone makes me mad. 

The best practice states that the organizer

  • should always promote the grades on offer (CNSW ✅)
  • offer separate grades where 5+ women will be racing in that grade
  • as a minimum for each event, offer at least 1 separate women’s grade.  It’s suggested to offer Div 2/3 as priority.  (the thought being A grade women would be better suited to race the equivalent male division) 

When I read this, it makes sense.  Why is this not the policy?  Why do the women get a big warning before they enter?  No wonder women’s entry numbers are low. 

***Please read the Cycling South Australia document***
https://cycling.org.au/sa/womens-grading-and-racing-sa

Pass it onto anyone you know who is putting on a race.  Cycling needs to do better to promote women’s cycling!


After a lot of discussion around my blog post, I was encouraged to contact the race director and share what was going on.

Today, they changed the wording! It’s a small win. But it feels so good to make a small difference.

Thanks everyone for their comments!

Let’s keep the dialogue happening

9 thoughts on “Womens Cycling- Just a thought

  1. I think you have every right to question it and the wording from my point of view should have said………..If there are enough entries from women, then there will be a separate field for them.

    Have I worded that right?

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    • even then. the onus is on women to produce numbers in order to have correct grades.
      grades should be advertised. Div 2 and 3 should be run as a women’s grade concurrent if there aren’t numbers.
      run womens Div 1 with the guys, and seperate if the field is big enough.
      But advertise 3 grades and don’t put the onus on women to produce numbers. That only tells women to expect low numbers, and will discourage participation.

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  2. Thanks for putting all this together. They used exactly the same wording last year. It nearly put me off entering. I was pretty new to racing and it didn’t take much to convince me that I didn’t belong.

    I’ve just seen the start list for this years race and am stoked to see some awesome numbers. It seems like Div 3 is the smallest division though. I hope others weren’t put off by the big red warnings.

    I hope that you’ve started a conversation that will help make things more welcoming in next year’s Kermesse, and a bunch of other races in 2020.

    Best of luck for your race!

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    • Turns out it was a standard copy paste oversight. The disclaimer was put in a few years ago because the women got combined with the guys. The feedback was, the organizers needed to had give advance notice of this policy.

      Although an easy oversight, it’s no excuse for the attitudes that prevail within the sport.

      The discussions have been extremely productive, it’s got people talking and thinking. With AusCycling shaking things up, I’m hoping something similar to the SA policy gets rolled out nationally.

      and for the race. it’s going to be a “race”. I haven’t trained road since 2013 ish. I’m there to be social and heckle a few mates while chowing out at the BBQ. can’t wait!

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      • If you read the CNSW Handicap policy you will see that CNSW combines women with men in grading – which we have been doing for the last 6 years. The new National grading system was developed, albeit minimally, on the CNSW policy. So the SA best policy is just a copy of the NSW policy.

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      • sure. the handicap policy might be the same. but there is no mention of a womens policy within the handicapping. There is no guidance on inclusive actions outside of the handicap positions. ________________________________

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      • yes, they have similar handicap policies (section 1 of the CSA guideline). but there is no mention/response/similarities in the CNSW policy when it comes to section 2- 5 in the CSA guidelines. CNSW just does not address this in a consistent and documented way. if they do it’s not easily found and not widely practiced by clubs. ________________________________

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