What: Forum on women’s professional cycling equity
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, 303 Third St., downtown Davis
Some of the top female bike racers in the nation will discuss “Establishing Equity in Women’s Professional Cycling” during a special presentation Saturday in Davis jointly sponsored by the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame and the Women’s Cycling Association.
Part of the weekend festivities surrounding the induction of four new Hall of Famers, the women’s program will feature Robin Farina, president of the Women’s Cycling Association; Alison Tetrick, an Energy Twenty16 professional team member; Olivia Dillon, a pro with the NOW and Novartis for MS team; Tayler Wiles of Specialized/Lululemon cycling; and Emily Kachorek, a pro with Vanderkitten.
The free program begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with refreshments at the Hall of Fame, 303 Third St., in the southwest corner of Central Park. The pros begin their presentations at 10 a.m., with time for questions and answers following their remarks.
At 11:30 a.m., guests will get a chance to meet the professionals when the WCA membership campaign kicks off.
At 1 p.m., the professional women will join in a coed bike ride around western Yolo County. George Mount will join other Hall of Famers in that outing.
Farina has personal knowledge of the Davis cycling scene, having just raced in the last Fourth of July Criterium.
“I am a huge fan of the city of Davis and what it has done to grow the cycling community,” she told The Enterprise.
(Of the more than 400 members of the Davis Bike Club, which sponsors the Criterium, group officials say about 30 percent are women.)
“(The Criterium) was one of the highlights of my summer. The enthusiasm for cycling in the town is contagious, which is why this was an easy place to want to start our WCA campaign here in conjunction with the Bicycling Hall of Fame inductee ceremony.”
Later Saturday, in ceremonies at Freeborn Hall on the UC Davis campus, road racer Beth Heiden Reid, promoter/former rider Vince Menci, BMX legend Mike King and women’s cycling pioneer Doris Travani-Mulligan will be inducted as the shrine’s 26th class.
Farina says her new association is working to bring the women out of the publicity peloton to the front of the race — or at least win some stages.
“The first step for women’s cycling is to create stability in the sport,” Farina told The Enterprise. “Once we have financially stable teams — which comes as a result of more media coverage and a widespread fan base — the rest of our issues will be easier to tackle.”
With coverage and demand, is it a chicken-or-egg scenario for the women’s side of the sport?
“With more media coverage and demand for women’s cycling, it will be easier to attract women-specific sponsors … thus creating a more stable platform for teams to exist and (allow) women to make a living being a pro,” Farina continued. “There is a natural progression: With more women interested in cycling in general, it helps push the mainstream sports (media), which leads to high-profile sponsors who want to take part.”
Farina says the WCA and other organizers are working to implement an “international, multi-day race” in the United States. The men already have a handful of those, including the Tour of California.
However, the women have some established events, including the U.S. Pro Nationals, the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, the Tough Tough, the Cascade Cycling Classic and the Parx Casino Philly Classic, among others.
But more exposure is needed.
As interest grows and sponsorship comes on board, these races have adopted an equal-prize-purse rule and have made pre- and post-race activity more appealing to the masses.
The Women’s Cycling Association, according to Farina, will partner with existing races in an effort to make those outings pop. Then the association will work on creating and promoting its own races.
Farina appreciates the effort made by the Tour of California, which included a women’s time trial. But she told ROAD Magazine the end result was unsatisfactory:
“The media exposure was lame,” Farina said. “The event was poorly organized, unsafe, and — after hearing all the claims about how it was promoting women’s racing — it was very disheartening when they cut the TV coverage before the event was over.”
Farina knows expansion of girls’ junior programs will help underpin the sport, but with current stars in the fold, there seems to be enough talent to go around…
“There are so many opportunities to work with existing events, that we have our hands full,” Farina explained when asked if the WCA is planning any of its own races. “An area we are working on is growing grassroots and we are doing that by hosting events like the one in Davis.
“Awareness of our organization is essential and having everyone who cycles support our mission is key.”
The WCA website can be found at www.womenscyclingassociation.com.
Speaking of sponsorship, the Saturday morning event didn’t seem to struggle for support. Among those supporting the women are Osmo Nutrition, Hallmark Inn, Café 110, the Davis Bike Club and Vanderkitten riding gear.
Notes: A ride in the VIP car of the Amgen/AEG Tour of California is one of the live auction items at the induction ceremony Saturday evening. A social hour starts at 5:30 p.m. with silent auction items on display. …A VIP reception goes from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Friday at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. Also Saturday, Peter Rich will host a symposium on cycling in the 1950s and 1960s in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. Some of the top riders from the era will be part of that 9 a.m. panel discussion.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.