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The anonymous commenter makes a really good point - why aren't female endurance athletes into cycling as much as other sports? Well, I've participated in a lot of different endurance sports for the past 20 years, including triathlon, open water swimming, and running. Cycling is the only sport I have participated in that did not provide equality in the categories and prizes offered.
When looking at participation in extreme sports around the world, there is nothing that comes to my mind to demonstrate that women are not interested in competition or risk taking. Women are willing to push through just about any circumstance to follow their dreams. So why aren't more women dreaming of cycling?
When I was a teen and transitioning from competitive pool swimming to open water swimming, I was thrilled that I could win tangible, valuable items at these races. Just like the men, I am a competitor and I want to be rewarded as such. As I got into triathlon and running, I never felt like a lesser participant, because the women always had the exact same categories and prizes as the men. In pro triathlon, equal prize money is paid to both sexes. The male and female winners may be Olympians, and the 10th place athletes are chasing their dreams. They are all deserving of their rewards. The 75-year-old female Ironman finisher gets her own 5-year age group, just like the men. The sport, as an institution, understands that it is not okay to say that as a minority, women will be given less.
In order to compete in cycling, I have had to accept the fact that I am considered "lesser than" by the institution as a whole. I am grateful to the promoters and sponsors who go against the grain to do what is right and provide an equal experience for women. It goes beyond the prizes. For example, as a pro cyclist, I do not appreciate that when I look up results online, I have to scroll past every single male category that is listed above the women. C'mon folks. Pro is pro. Beginner is beginner. Women want respect. I wish for a fundamental change. It doesn't matter if the age-groups are not all filled, or if the prizes are not all claimed. Cycling needs to retire the excuse that smaller women's fields are a reason to give less to those who do participate.
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