On women’s cycling and the need to do more.
It’s not often I pen a “letter from the editor,” nor is it often I write much besides some of the humour on the site. However, something happened the other night prompting the need to put pen to paper, with the hope that we can inspire action.
I was invited to dinner with 4 female professional cyclists. It being mid September, and contract season, the girls were discussing their futures, as immediately as the 2017 season. And to hear that their negotiations are for 4 figured salaries, as some of the most accomplished athletes in their sport… it just seemed so WRONG. These girls are role models, spokespeople. They are integral to the fabric of the sport, but they cannot warrant a salary that puts them over the poverty line?
I made the conscious choice a year ago when I launched the website to not differentiate or “subcategorise” content about women’s cycling. Because I don’t think it should be treated any differently at least from a media standpoint, and to essentially ignore gender on my site.
Granted there are some sites that have done this and done it very well (Ella Cycling Tips for instance) but this is because their starting point was a massive audience, and they have had the ability to associate a site, concentrate on women, and work cohesively under a larger umbrella.
That model was impossible for me as independent media, with limited budget and resources, so from day one I’ve worked with female and male cyclists in the exact same manner, the same platform, and simply helped them tell their stories, whatever they were.
I’m so proud to say that three posts on my site garnered traction and hits beyond what I ever expected. The first to do this was a story with Tyler Farrar when he finished a stage at Tour Down Under on a fan’s bike. The second was Mark Cavendish doing a Rubik’s cube. The third was a blog from Loren Rowney, a deeply personal tale on her own struggles as an athlete and woman. The thing that makes me the proudest about this: that one of those was a woman’s story. And that the massively male weighted cycling audience engaged, shared and supported her words….
Loren, along with her roommate Carlee Taylor have been integral to this site. They are my sounding boards. They are there to answer every question I have. They come up with ideas, they are constantly motivated and excited, and they are true collaborators in every sense of the word. They give everything they have and ask for nothing in return.
And after that dinner I left, walking home, I just felt a bit off. To me, there must MUST be a way to do more. To not just be passive media. It doesn’t seem like enough anymore to be able to run stories and promote women’s cycling without finding a way, demanding a way, to make sure these girls are compensated fairly.
Is the UCI going to fix this? I doubt it. Maybe in years, but not now. Are the teams going to? Not when market value is market value and they can keep getting away with it, and just don’t have the budget to do otherwise.
So what can I do? What can we at The Peloton Brief do? We are still working on it. We are in idea stage, but we are convinced and determined we will do something, and we will do it soon. I’ve realised it’s time to maybe stop treating everything as absolute equal.
My thoughts right now are to start a bursary fund, on a simple need/application basis. A fund that we can guarantee goes 100% to the riders. An ongoing crowdfund type thing perhaps, and even if we raise only another 4 figures, its that much more than there was before.
And this is where I ask you, readers of the site, collaborators, fans and friends, please feed back to us, and let us know your thoughts. Tell us if there is support for this, or bring us your ideas. Or how else can you help? Are you local with skills like motor pacing or massage therapy? Would you volunteer a few hours a month? Or are you from afar with contract skills, or web design? There are so many ways we can all do a small part, and through a collective site and base audience we can make it happen. We’ve spent a year building this platform, and now let’s do some good with it.
The Peloton Brief
Please get in touch with us: email firstname.lastname@example.org and give us some feedback, or comment here. Let’s make something amazing happen.