Burning Question: Why Don't More World Cup Downhill Teams Sponsor a Woman?

Mar 6, 2019 at 5:38
by James Smurthwaite  


With just 21 women across the 37 UCI registered teams in the downhill World Cup, there's a big gender divide between who's getting sponsored and who isn't. Unlike our skinny tired siblings on the road, women in downhill race on the same day and on the same course as the men but there is still a huge disparity between the coverage and opportunities afforded to the men and the women. Even if the events may run in parallel, men are given longer training sessions at more favourable times and in the race itself, only a quarter of the number of women can qualify for a World Cup as men, and just 10 women's race runs are broadcast as opposed to 40 in the men's. In short, things are not equal.

In a recent interview while talking about women's racing, Rachel Atherton said, "I think the sponsorship definitely needs to improve, I think it's ridiculous that big companies don't have a female rider and I think that's really shameful on their part." We spoke to team managers, racers and other industry personalities to see how sponsorship of women can be improved and what may be holding back more teams from sponsoring female athletes. The best responses are below.



Will Longden - Team Manager, Madison Saracen


bigquotesMadison as a company has and still does support a number of female athletes across different cycling disciplines and previously, Manon Carpenter, Shanaze Reade, Tahnee Seagrave to name a few World Champions, also Rachel Atherton when Madison funded their Commençal Team.

Madison Saracen Factory Team is always looking for talented riders who can fight for a podium and represent our portfolio of brands in the correct manner. As manager I don’t start that search based on a particular gender. The facts are, there are 15 UCI Elite downhill teams. There are only 10 women shown on the World Cup TV show, that’s not enough to go around. I know the top three female riders do a great job of marketing themselves and create a great following but beyond that the commercial reality is females not making the podium, don’t drive sales by the public and right now it’s hard to justify investing in a female rider who isn’t one of the top three and none of them are available.

There is an exception in Madison Saracen Teams’ case and it’s one that has been at the heart of our team from the beginning, the development of young talent from grass roots through to WC podium. The first success story of that was obviously Manon Carpenter, followed by Matt Walker and I am on the look-out for the next opportunity. Sadly, in the last group of Development riders we only had one female interested and before that we had no requests from female riders when we put the word out that we were looking for riders. National races in the UK are no longer supported by the top UK female riders and by that I mean, turning up and racing every round. The talent pool has shrunk considerably in the UK and that is partly down to the demise of the National series and the removal of funding by British Cycling, which now also includes removing support for GB downhill athletes of any level.

With regard to Rachel saying “I think the sponsorship definitely needs to improve, I think it's ridiculous that big companies don't have a female rider and I think that's really shameful on their part.” Perhaps that comment comes from the frustration of working so hard and being such a great role model and despite all of that, there is clearly still an imbalance that it would be nice to see levelled. It has to make commercial sense though, as I’m sure the Atherton’s will soon find out with their own recently launched bike company.

Katy Curd - Racer, Privateer

Katy Curd cranking along the start straight before plunging into the dark of the woods.

bigquotesI would love to see more teams back women riders, I think its a shame that there are still a massive percentage of teams out there without a woman on their team yet so many women riders looking and deserving the backing and support. From my perspective it is really hard to make the step from doing everything on your own at races to having that backing and support.

I believe the support and sponsorship really needs to be earned but it is hard to close that gap at races when you are having to compete against riders that have the full factory support, from having mechanics, endless spares, people on track filming and line spotting, even having food and meals prepared. All these differences take a little more pressure and stress off the riders and give them more time to focus. Compare that to a privateer who is having to do everything from travel, funding, spares, being your own mechanic, knowing the lines etc. I think its a hard gap to close to compete against those who have the backing of a team, which then becomes hard to prove yourself as a rider to get noticed by teams.

The coverage for women has improved a lot over the last couple of years but it would always be nice to see more, the guys always get a lot more coverage every race when you look at online articles after each races but there are more of them so I guess its easier and needed to include the top men in the sport. I always get the feedback from people who follow the races, that Redbull TV should show more of the women on the live feed at World Cups and I believe this would help massively to help women get that extra sponsorship as well, to show to sponsors the coverage they can give back at each race.

Kathy Sessler - Team Manager, Santa Cruz Syndicate

Kathy Sessler Interview

bigquotesWhy don't more teams sponsor a woman? As you mentioned this as a topic for debate, therefore it makes the concept polarizing and divisive in my view. It will divide opinion among readers to take a side and I don't think this helps anyone, much less women.

First, this implies that teams don't sponsor many woman, and you would need to examine the facts to see what percentage of woman are sponsored compared to percentage of men in the field and perhaps there might be an example of many woman having opportunity, or not. I'm not going to do this, just posing the perspective.

Let's ask the question, why do teams sponsor anybody? I can speak for Syndicate when I say that we look for athletes that are podium contenders with personalities that align with our marketing goals and family style atmosphere. I believe teams sponsor "athletes" for marketing purposes to sell product. So teams will seek out "athletes" who fit their marketing perspective. This might be a male or female. Since 2006 the Syndicate has had six riders, so that is over 13 years... this team doesn't have many opportunities for anyone. I've seen us described as a "boys club", isn't that funny when this team has had a female team manager for 15 years! And it should be very clear that Santa Cruz Bicycles supports women evidenced by their Juliana line of bikes.

So if a woman wants to be on the Syndicate there would need to be an opportunity in the line up... since our turnover is so very low, the opportunity won't present for many years. She would have to be very fast, capable of winning World Cups, and have a marketable personality that would fit with the team. We keep an eye on all athletes out there and if the right fit comes along you never know.

But I am dismayed that this topic is presented in a polarizing way and that will just perpetuate a perception that woman don't have opportunity. It's been a personal perspective of mine for 30 years that women actually have more opportunity in this sport than men and my personal career has proven this to myself.

Fabien Cousine - Team Manager, Polygon UR

Fabien Cousini s Polygon Collosus DH9

bigquotesI think first of all there are fewer women that compete and it’s often the same women that are on the podium so for a team it is obviously it is a bit harder to hire women when the chances of podiums are a bit lower because of all the super-fast women that are always on the podium. That, I guess, is what the other teams are thinking but for us we are really lucky to have had Tracey Hannah on board for 8 years now.

For us it's a huge advantage to have a woman, I think it opens up the perspective of the team in terms of feelings and communication. Throwing a bunch of men together, it sometimes gets a bit crazy so having a woman balances it out and gives everyone a different perspective. So far it has been great to have Tracey in the team especially as a person also she is a great friend and also professional, a great ambassador. Tracey can make a living out of racing but I remember when she started racing she was only part time and she was working also on the side and we had to push for extra from our sponsors mid-season to put things together to keep her.

If we are talking about women on the downhill circuit, clearly the UCI could help more but unfortunately they went the opposite way. For the team rankings, the points given to women and men used to be equal but recently they have reduced the points given to women. I guess this was based on the fact that there were more men racing and that the field of men racers was more dense.

Also since the beginning of the year this discrimination has continued as the points given to women to select UCI Elite teams have also been reduced so it means that teams supporting women have more chance to pay more fees, be less visible and have less voice than teams supporting men.

I thought that the UCI made a lame decision, because they clearly have not taken in consideration of how difficult it is for a woman to get a career as a racer in downhill. Yes there are fewer women racing, men are faster but come on we are in 2019, these women ride the same tracks and they have also pushed their limits, pushed the quality of their riding and given us a great show the last few years, so giving them the same points and same change is, I think, a minimum that the UCI should do to bring back equality and encourage women racing.

Lars Sternberg - Marketing, Transition Bikes

Lars Sternberg

bigquotesOh wow... I'm going to skirt around your question because I don't care to speculate why other teams don't sponsor women. I'll provide a little insight from our perspective though.

Note* I want to clarify that I'm not talking about social media 'influencers' in my following comments. We don't sponsor anyone, male or female, based on how many followers they have. It's not even really a consideration for us. Ever. We choose to work with riders because of who they are and the personal connections they make. If they happen to have a solid social media following then that's just a bonus.*

We are proud to have Tahnée leading our WC downhill team and being the most premiere athlete we sponsor. Tony (FMD/Transition WC team manager and Tahnée’s dad) and I have discussed this a number of times, and our firm stance remains that there is zero pressure from Transition to bring an elite male onto the team. I'd venture to say he's happy and proud to have his daughter leading the team as well. The team has an elite male rider in Tahnée’s younger brother Kaos - who is slowly climbing the ranks in age, style and pace - however, something is causing Tony to feel that he needs to periodically check with us to see if we require that top 10 male. The fact that he's had the notion a number of times that we'd want him to add another high level male athlete to the roster tells me there is a widespread disparity in that level of racing and sponsorship culture across the board. This is not a dig at Tony by any means, it's directed at the culture that he lives within that I view is the problem.

I've heard arguments in the past for why women have been paid less at event's due to rider numbers being lower and so forth. But it's 2019, what the hell? The only thing that's going to change this is if more women get deals/rides/sponsorship's. What does it tell aspiring young girl mountain bikers when there are only a handful or women that can support themselves from a racing career? If there were more opportunities to justify pursuing a career as a professional mountain biker more young girls would do it, eventually increasing female participant numbers. Yeah, the old chicken before egg argument I know, but I feel it's up to the industry to create the change.

We work with a number of other female riders and racers in various capacities and they all inspire us here at Transition, as much, if not more than our male riders and racers. Today, there was a video that came out on the world wide web featuring Veronique Sandler, she was absolutely ripping. It was sick, it made me want to go out and ride. So rad. I'm noticing this more and more, times are-a-changing.

There is always room to improve though, we definitely don't have a 50/50 female to male ratio of riders we sponsor, but we're closer than we were a few years ago. And we're going to continue building our female roster. I encourage other brands to do the same.

Myriam Nicole - Racer, Commencal Vallnord

Myriam Nicole may have felt the nerves a bit today but she dod what needed to be done and is the 2017 World Cup Champion.

bigquotesYou have to look at the figures and it’s a fact that the sport is male-dominated. So, I kind of accept the way things are. If we get more women riding there will be more competition and that will increase participation levels and therefore coverage would increase and so on.

I don’t think there is too much discrimination in our sport in relation to the figures. We now get the same prize money from the UCI for example, which is rewarding when I (and other female athletes) put the same time and effort into training and racing. But women don’t receive the same amount of media coverage as men and sometimes the quality of that content or coverage can be questionable. Overall I think in mountain biking, compared to other sports, women are much less ‘side-lined’ and compared to how many there are of us racing DH for example, it’s not surprising that men are talked about more because there are loads more of them racing! Does a girl make more bike sales for bike brand than a man for example? Personally, I don’t think so. But she is still definitely still indispensable to a brand.

In Dh specifically for example, the top 5 women have the same support / team structure as the top 15-20 (ish) men. This is a huge difference in numbers and one that affects sponsorship and the means to which women outside of the top 5 can continue to support their training, travel, fees, etc. Those women must find a job to be able to try to be a professional sportswoman and this takes time away from training and so on. It’s a bit like a vicious circle at first.



364 Comments

  • + 132
 Companies sponsor athletes to sell their products. The more spectators see the event, the more products they'll sell. Women downhill has less spectators. This is because women ride slower. I do love women downhill, but let's not lose sight of reality.
  • + 53
 It's not about speed though. I'm sure most spectators prefer to see close racing and drama. If more women are supported, the level goes up so now you haven't got a field of 3-4 who could win but 10-15. More drama, closer racing. Everybody wins.
  • + 39
 @dubod22: I disagree. I am sure there's plenty of drama in a lot of regional races around the world, with very close racing.
However, I prefer watching male World Cup races, because there's drama AND they're the fastest in the world.
  • + 75
 @jose90: Wait until all the males that identify as females start racing......dont hate.....you said you wanted drama.
  • + 47
 @dubod22: I think 'close racing' thing is rubbish. I much prefer seeing Sam Hill smash everyone by 6 seconds than some bs 0.08 margin that is essentially chance.
  • + 31
 "This is because women ride slower. "
Bit of a flaw in that, women ride slower compared to men yes but, If a female is gonna get into DH an buy a DH bike.. Are they gonna look at male results an compare themselves to them?
No
They're gonna be watching other females as inspiration, an importantly in the marketing.. Companies that support those females
  • + 7
 @Boardlife69: It's gonna happen. I'd bet it would start on XC then creep its way to Enduro then DH will be the last stronghold.
  • + 20
 If you compare the support and coverage that Rachel gets to a male rider who rides the same times at World Cups as her you would see, that she gets way better support. If all of them raced in the same category, that would be real equality. As long as you have got separate categorys there is going to be different support for male and female riders.
  • + 4
 @nojzilla: What you say is indeed true, there is a potential market in women who like DH, and get inspired by women doing DH at the top level. And they are potential customers so you'd be wise to invest something there.

However, the potential market in men (and women) who get inspired by men doing DH at the top level is bigger. This is why if I had a company, I would spend less resources in women athletes. I am not saying that I would invest nothing, I'm saying less than in men.
  • + 11
 It's a sad reality but it's true. The same can be said for almost every sport that is co-ed. How many people actually watch the FIFA Women's World Cup vs the men's? It's not a cycling problem, it's a social problem. We crave for action, and men's sport has more of it. If it brings viewership and drives sales, then equality gets thrown out the window.
  • - 3
 @jose90: true but, the article is about women in DH Smile
If I owned a company I wouldn't want to alienate 50% of potential sales....... (that figure was just a random guess for the sake of my point, I have no idea of potential or actual female participation in DH)
  • + 69
 @Spark24: It's not a social problem, because it's not a problem. It's simply a fact of life. People are free to watch or buy whatever they want. Obviously more men watch MTB racing and more men compete in it. That's why the marketing that is professional sport is aimed at men. End of story. That is equality! It doesn't make it more equal by giving a job to someone who doesn't deserve it simply because they happen to have a vagina.

I'm not saying no women deserve a job as a pro MTB racer. Some of them are absolutely good enough and fully deserve the job. That said, the market has obviously proven what that level is.

I've always wanted to be a model, but it turns out I'm not that good looking. Apparently people who buy clothes prefer to look at people who are more handsome than me. Can I have an article in Models Monthly please? "Burning Question: Why Don't More Modelling Agencies Hire Average Looking Guys?"
  • + 13
 Could simply be a question of female appetite for the sport and all that comes with it. To what extent this appetite or lack of is down to pure personal choice or shaped by upbringing (which is almost invariably subject to gender differentiation) is another question. Don't know if we can talk about it as a problem in itself unless we consider any form of gender differentiation during childhood as a problem. This is by no means unique to DH, so the reasons are essentially societal (not to mention psychological and physiological). Did I say "simply"? Hmmm...
  • - 16
flag Kapricorn (Mar 8, 2019 at 2:40) (Below Threshold)
 @jose90: your argument is logical if you look at the world as flat and it's only flat: there's no creativity in persisting with that view. But the world is round,and according to the world fact book (www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/print_2018.html), there is parity between male and female numbers in most countries.

In simple terms, that means any potential market is likely to have equal number of male and female consumers. the perspective you hold is effectively anti the money you want to squeeze out of men only.

I think the companies need to be more savvy about the female market despite the obvious differences in speed.
  • - 21
flag endurocat (Mar 8, 2019 at 3:21) (Below Threshold)
 We need to ask companies that don't sponsor women anymore , like Trek.
  • + 12
 @Kapricorn: There are equal amount of men and women yes but why aren't chanel spending more money marketing to men when they could squeeze more money i that potential male market.

There are many factors that affect a sport's entertainment value. Athleticism, competitiveness and most importantly, the characters and personalities within that sport.

Yes, speed is not only the difference but it's also a big deal. Watching Aaron Gwin smash rock gardens at mach speed is more entertaining than a slower version of Rachel's.

Story and drama and the personalities within that sport is a driving factor in attracting a particular audience. I guarantee you, if a female good looking version of ratboy who rides equally well and stylishly with a personality to match will be the highest paid mtber in the world and brands will line-up to sign her.

But will Santa Cruz sign her to sell more Nomads or Stegas? That's another question.
  • + 21
 @nojzilla: You aren't alienating 50% of potential sales though because women are less interested in riding bikes than men, regardless of the publicity the pros get. If all were equal in terms of pay and publicity, there would still be less women riding bikes than men, that's just a fact. Men and women are different and riding a bike down a hill is an activity that appeals to men more than women due to our genetic make up, it's as simple as that.
  • + 7
 @Davec85: nature or nurture? You could be right and humanity may not be ready to move too far away from traditional gender roles, which may well be so rooted in our physical makeup that true equality is just a pipe dream. Buy how do we know when we've hit a natural and unbreachable ceiling of equality in the sport rather than being held back by the factors that have tended to made things harder for women across society? Christ, this is literally hurting my brain.
  • + 5
 @Davec85: it really is as simple as that
  • - 5
flag nojzilla (Mar 8, 2019 at 4:25) (Below Threshold)
 @Davec85:" (that figure was just a random guess for the sake of my point, I have no idea of potential or actual female participation in DH)"

Did you miss that bit?
  • + 1
 @nojzilla: Sorry dude, I did miss that bit, jumped the gun about there......
  • + 6
 @BenPea: But gender roles are rooted in millions of years of evolution, we aren't going to undo that overnight and do we really need to? The rest of the animal kingdom are doing just fine.......
  • + 15
 @Davec85: no worries. Wouldn't it cool if our sport wasn't so much of a sausage fest Smile I know I'd prefer that!
  • + 1
 @nojzilla: It would absolutely, I'm not arguing with that at all, I just think that the reasons cited for why it isn't aren't necessarily correct. I'm one of the lucky ones who's other half also rides, but we see very little women out on the trails, it's a shame.
  • + 6
 @Davec85: gender roles have been turned completely on their head in the last 100 years and we're evolving faster than a speeding bullet. I'm not sure we're still part of the animal kingdom. Unfortunately we've ended up with these massively capable brains that mean that nothing can be that simple.
As to whether we *need* to alter gender roles, again you'd need to look at the restrictions placed on people's ambitions, explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious. But yes, it's all very deep seated and I guess what needs to happen will happen, given time and an equitable social environment.
  • + 1
 @jaame: spot on. ms sessler is on point as well.
  • - 2
 @Davec85: 'Men and women are different and riding a bike down a hill is an activity that appeals to men more than women due to our genetic make up, it's as simple as that.'

How is riding a mechanical device down a hill part of a men's genetic makeup?
  • + 3
 @BenPea: But what if the current social enviroment is a toxic waste site?
  • + 4
 @Boardlife69: patience patience! In 400 years it'll all be sorted.
  • + 3
 I disagree, I watch the entire women's field. Drama is drama.
  • + 5
 "but let's not lose sight of reality."

Men are women and women are men. Sorry, but half the political spectrum has already lost sight on reality.
  • + 6
 @dubod22: Tolerance for risk. Unless by some stroke of incredible luck all of human history led evolution to give males and females the exact same response to risky situations, we can assume that one of the sexes (male in this case) is more comfortable with hurling themselves down a mountain littered in rocks and trees.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: A variation of this actually sort of happened in the BMX world not too long ago.

The first episode of The BMX in our Blood podcast is an interview with her where she discusses a bit of that drama.
  • + 4
 Professional athletes are paid because of their ability to market to certain demographics. With the way the MTB demographic is currently, it makes sense to pay men more than women because the companies (not charities) make more money by advertising to men... HOWEVER I do wonder about the cause and effect relationship of the Marketing-Sales dynamic. i.e. is male participation higher because of marketing to men and not the other way around?
If thats the case then why not market to women more heavily because more participation in the sport is definitely a good thing regardless of someones gender.
  • + 20
 Yet the ladies of the World Cup ride faster than 99% of Pinkbike shit posters... Transition seems to have it figured out.
  • + 6
 @mattradical:
Yes and no. My girlfriend is a mountain biker, but she doesn't read Pinkbike and doesn't watch mountain biking on TV. She also doesn't know that there is a bike company called Transition.
  • + 12
 @cvoc: I'm a female mountain biker and I read Pinkbike. I spend my lazy hours watching mtb YouTube videos and Red Bull tv. I know who Transition is, as well as Intense Cylces, Guerrilla Gravity, Canfield Bros, Sick Bicycles... I shop for my own bike parts. Do maintenance and repairs that I'm capable of doing without special tools at home. And, I'm about to start building my first 29er from scratch. Not all of the female mtbers are like your girlfriend. Half mof y female mtb crew are like me, half like your gf.
  • + 11
 @jose90: Except that the women's biking market is growing at a much faster rate then the much more matured market for males. As a business owner, my strategy is to look around the corner and invest where the business growth will be, not where my competitors are fighting to the bottom now....
  • + 0
 Sponsored athletes have zero influence on what I spend my money on. Neither do any of my ridding friends. Who are they influencing?
  • + 1
 @Enduroisnotacrime: Couldn't agree more. P.S: That's a rare flag to see on here sathi.
  • + 5
 @jose90: What is it that you don't like about watching the women ride? I don;t find the women who race any less exciting than the bottom 10 men who have little chance at a win.
  • + 1
 @dubod22: It's not individually either the men being much faster or the women being much slower..... it is the difference in speed people see that makes them less interested in spectating the women's race when they know the fast guys are yet to come.
  • + 2
 @Boardlife69: It's already a reality. Top 10 result in UCI DH Womens Elite at Vallnord last year. I have no issue with anyone transitioning, but I think the debate about fairness is a very interesting one.
  • + 4
 Women by average are far less interested in objects than men. You will never make women geek out about a rim width. If you sell an SUV to a man, you will show him how big it is, how much power it has and some other nonsensical technical details about them which every other car shares or possibly does better. But if you are to sell a same care to a woman, the best way is to put a baby seat in it and adress safety in general. Status can be good too. Men are into things, properties of things, Women are more into people and people related properties of the things, deeper relations. The whole concept of racing is much less likely to appeal to women, they compete in a different way. Men want a cool toy to smash other people with, they love the concept of physical fight. Women want to play social games. Why do you think women insta the crap out of their rides (often accompanied by an inspirational text) and men insta the crap out of their bikes - the new machine yeah!!!

It is easier to strip a mtb woman from cash by selling clothes and trips, than bikes. Because of that Women will always be worse clients to bike companies.

If you want more women in the sport, get sponsors from outside of the bike industry. Make the bike feel as a part of something greater.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: waki, are you subscribed to pewdiepie?
  • + 1
 @Narro2: no... I am the self proclaimed pewdiepie of the bike world. It’s just that the cash is nowhere to be seen... bike industry sucks.

Oh crap I need an own column on Pinkbike... Pewdiebike
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Like a bull in a China thread... The question is: is equality a genetic impossibility?
  • + 2
 @Legbacon: people who have low impulse and compulsive discipline?
  • + 1
 @BenPea: I hope I will finally get banned for this: YES!
  • + 4
 You are right, athletes sell products. But why do female athletes have to only groom the market for other females? If you look at downhill's history, women like Missy Giove had mass appeal and she was for sure selling tons of bikes to mainly males. So it is about results, personality and image for an athlete to be of value for their sponsor.

Personally, I care about good racing and currently the male DH WC has more drama, closer decisions etc.. As much as I love Rachel as an athlete, I think her dominance is a problem for the sport. In XC racing I feel the opposite: I think there the female races are way more exciting than to see Nino win another time. Face it, races are a show and the better the show the more people will watch it.

Another aspect is the athlete itself. I have been a fan of both, male and female athletes depending on if they inspire me, get me stoked to ride and I agree with their values and image. So I don't think an athlete has just marketing potential to their own gender. If a brand sponsors a female or male racer doesn't matter to me, if the persons they sponsor are cool and fulfill the above criteria I am on board.
  • + 1
 @iRiderPB: Good angle. I guess bike Purchase is a mix of needs and inspirations. You never know what will inspire people. We are on the verge of new way of representing companies. Look at Ryan Leech, Jeff Kendall Weed, Hannah Barnes, Bryan and Jill. Their ability to expose products is not as dramatic as racing, but it is much more continuous broadcast and they are much more accessible.
  • + 2
 @Enduroisnotacrime: now this is true, any guy as slow as the woman wouldn't get a bag of shit for a sponsor; true equality hurts.
  • + 1
 @Enduroisnotacrime: If Rachel was in the men's category, she'd be ranked around 75th overall. She wouldn't even make the WC finals.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: dont worry. If pinkbike actually counted you would be banned, beaten, and what others would like to add.

Cycling is actually not so bad in relation to woman participation. There are other sports which have had less than a handful of woman, albeit in history woman have proven their worth and beaten men. Formula 1 is a good example.
  • + 0
 @AntiGrav87: A small and vocal minority on one side of the political spectrum has lost sight of reality.
  • - 1
 @Keit: Since you are one of no more than 10 people who had this attitude to me vs hundreds of PMs and sympathy from various people in the industry, journalists engineers, photographers, racers I would care about your comment. But I don't. You have no balls to even introduce yourself so piss off with your grandiose vision of the world mr White knight. And well even if you introduced yourself to anyone at a World Cup site, nobody would know who you are... and I make people you look up to smile. Piss off Baron Von CorRectum
  • - 1
 I was in Val Di Sole when Emily Ragot announced quitting her career, and I could understand that and felt for her when she said that she is tired of being injured. But men keep on going, for good and bad. Like stupid oxes, they need a letter from a sponsor saying thanks man, but, no results no money, we don’t care about your hip. If you cannot understand fundamental physiological and thus psychological differences between men and women, you should not speak about it at all. So what that womans body can compete with mens bodies in F1? If they cannot take the heat of rivalry in the same way? You want to mention Danica? Oh, one per thousands, congratulations you just won an argument on statistics. Wait you didn’t. Piss the hell off you pompous boring dork
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: hahaha, i would read the Pewdiebike column, dont care what the haters say.
  • + 3
 @Boardlife69: I realize you're trolling, but as a mountain biker (and courier, road cyclist, cyclocrosser, dirt jumper, you name it) who is currently transitioning male-to-female, I hope I can actually shed some light here. Hormonal transition does a lot more than just make you grow dem tiddies. The combination of estrogen and testosterone blockers causes a whooole lot of physiological changes. Mainly, muscle mass decreases, body fat is redistributed, and you lose that testosterone drive. After a certain point in transition, an average trans woman is pretty goddamn similar to an average cis woman (save for really unalterable shit like... your skeleton, I guess). Now, I've only been on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for about four months, so I currently wouldn't feel comfortable entering a women's race. That will likely change, albeit at some point much later down the line, when my physiology no longer grants me an unfair advantage. But, in a male-dominated sport like mountain biking, does my male upbringing still grant me some sort of advantage? I do agree that it's a complex issue, and I won't pretend there's a simple solution, but trans people want to race bikes too.
  • + 0
 @Narro2: funny enough I thought of doing a pewdiepie thing once. Insta live of waki getting on comment board of Pinkbike Big Grin
  • + 0
 @dubod22: you're putting the cart ahead of the horse! saying money should be spent to sponsor and televize women's DH and *then* the viewers will come, is no different that the guy that demands a raise before his work performance improves.
  • + 2
 I occasionally ride with a guy who usually races 2-3 world cup downhills a year and four or five EWS rounds. He is really, really fast. He's sponsored by giant, X fusion, to name two, and he is making a living, travel expenses all paid etc. He has never qualified for a world cup final. Usually comes in just over 100 in qualification. I think last year in the EWS he was something like 66th overall, after competing in five rounds. Anyway the point is, he's the fastest guy I've ever ridden with and Rachel Atherton is a lot faster than him. So the females are really fast. Much faster than most blokes. Probably faster than all the blokes in the world except the top 100. That said, that puts her about 100 in the world exclusive of gender. Food for thought. Rachel does not have her job because she's a woman. She has it because she's fast. She probably makes more because she's fast and a woman though. That's equality.
  • + 4
 @getrad24-7: I'm fully supportive of your transitioning and wish you all the best. I'm dubious though as to whether you, or any other trans female won't retain a genetic advantage over a cis gender woman. You're right, it's a complicated matter and whilst you should absolutely be able to continue to race, I don't know whether it is fair for this to be in a women's category. Hope this comes across in the spirit of goodwill and fair discussion in which it was intended.
  • + 1
 @Malky79: First off, thanks for coming at this from a respectful angle and actually engaging with the points I’m making. I truly appreciate it. That said, I’m not sure what you mean by “genetic advantage.” Why would someone’s genotype (not hormones, musculature, or any other physical characteristic) impact performance? Throw me a source if you’ve got one, but that kinda just seems like conjecture. I realize that it’s hard to imagine one’s physiology changing as it does on HRT if you haven’t experienced it yourself. If you want to understand these effects, Jillian Bearden (former elite men’s road racer, current elite women’s road racer after years of transitioning) is a prime example: www.denverpost.com/2017/08/07/first-female-transgender-pro-cyclist-colorado-classic-2017
  • + 0
 @getrad24-7: genetiv advantage is that bone structure and musculature has been building up for years and years and among males it just has been more of it. By average, males are stronger and more resilient to damage and it really does not take a scientist to get that. The examples of it are seen in nearly every single sport and the reason why for instance Rachel Atherton would barely qualify into mens race is not a social construct. There are very strong gay men out there and if they decided to transition they would beat the hell out of women. It takes an intellectual to think otherwise. Please show me transgender originally woman who deminates mens field. It just does not exist. Examples of sports, including motorsports, where women beat men are virtually none. And if you want to go into “but it is unfair for transgender ex-males, what should they do then if they want to compete”, then you open a can of worms where you have to determine what defines “full transition”. If you think there are no men who will identify as women for calculated, convenient reasons, you are fooling yourself. I am not intending to discriminate you, but there is no better way of saying it: tough luck. Sometimes I ride with Womans Dh Masters World Champion, I am a tad faster than her. I would not stand a tiniest chance against a male DH Master World Champion of her age category. Not a tiniest chance. Where are all these women with great musculature and cardiovascular system? They actually do not exist. Those who win, especially in power sports, are already having higher levels of testosterone than their colleagues. I have both a girl and a boy as my kids, you can clearly see the difference in musculature and the boy is not much weaker than her, despite being 5 while she is 7. They graple sometimes, lift my kettlebells, it does not take a scientist to see the evident difference. Not to mention tendency towards violence which is hormonal. One visit to the schoolyard is enoguh, already at ground school level. It is beyond obvious. An elite Marathon runner body is genetically better suited to Marathon than to weight lifting, an elite Marathon runner will never transition to be even an advanced weight lifter. The same is true to the opposite. I wish I had better environment to grow up in where I would be motivated to do power sports at young age. I haven’t got it. I started training for real by the age of 25. There may be a race category for me, but the top of it is stacked with sandbaggers from elite. I don’t care, tough life, it is unfair, everything is. Again, I have no problem with transgender people in everyday life, no prejudice against them. Please help yourself. But if my son would suddenly decide to transition and compete with women, I’d tell him that it is not right. It would be my duty as his parent and his friend. Again, it is beyond obvious. If you really want I can find studies and you know well enough they exist. It will be a waste of time for both of us. It will be however hard to find studies that confirm male vs female genetics focused on that particular angle since it is a rather new issue.
  • + 1
 @getrad24-7: and I am not saying you are wrong about hormones being at the base of it, because if you transitioned a 10yr old boy, then by the age of 25 he would stand no chance against men and have equally hard time compete with women. But if he lived as a man to 25 he will have an advantage over women. If you look at the atart gate at this womens running event in Australia and ask 100 people who do you think will win, the answer would be rather uniform across the board. It does not take even Masters degree to come to that conclusion. And it is not like global warming: hey do you think Global Warming exists based what you see around. That is what I mean neyond obvious.
  • + 2
 @getrad24-7: One of the biggest problems with your situation is creating a level playing field. Whilst you wouldn't feel comfortable competing with women after 4 months of HRT, the next person may not have a problem with it. Every case is different, depending on what age you transition at, your physiology, how long the HRT has been in place.
Please don't misunderstand me, I have absolutely no issue with your decision, I wish you every happiness for the future and I can't begin to imagine the courage it must take to go through the transition. I do however, struggle with the fairness of a situation where a cis woman loses the win/podium/sponsorship deal to someone who's transitioning and bringing advantages that every physiologist I've heard talking on the subject acknowledges are there. On average, males have a larger heart and lungs, no amount of HRT can alter that.
I feel for you in your situation and understand that you want to compete, but the only truly fair solution that I can see is a separate category. As you say, it's a very complex issue. I hope I haven't offended in anything I've said. If so, I apologise as it wasn't intended.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Wow, finally, my very own WAKIdesigns rant! I guess I’m kind of honored. Did you read the article I linked? Because from your response, it doesn’t seem like you did. It’s a pretty damn good study of the effects of MTF transition on athletic performance. Jillian Bearden races in the women’s field because, post-transition, she no longer has the male musculature and hormones that made her competitive in the men’s field. She is no longer BIOLOGICALLY a man. And dude, I’m by no means transitioning in order to sandbag the women’s field. Honestly, the gendered structure of bike racing was one of the only reasons I could think of to NOT transition, but ultimately the desire to not want to die all the time won out. Aaand now I get to deal with weird bullshit like this. If I keep racing in the men’s field after I’ve “fully transitioned” (and you’re right, that does mean different things to different people, but to the UCI, it means testing below a certain level of testosterone) I’ll likely place pretty terribly in my current USAC categories. But if I start racing as a woman, then any result I achieve (no matter how hard-fought) will immediately be subject to the invalidating critique “yeah, but you used to be a man.” I don’t think anybody would actually go to the trouble of transitioning just so they could be ridiculed like that. Nothing about this is as obvious as you’d think. “There are very strong gay men out there and if they decided to transition they would beat the hell out of women.” There are a lot of misconceptions baked into this sentence. First: gender and sexuality aren’t linked like that. It’s not a matter of liking dick so much that you just DECIDE to become a woman, but an innate and often terrible knowledge that your gender is not the one assigned to you at birth. Please look up gender dysphoria. If you actually want to have this discussion, I’d suggest you inform yourself better on the issue at hand. As one of ya boi Peterson’s colleagues likes to say, “facts don’t care about your feelings.” All you’ve given me here is some sensationalist garbage about how trans women are invading women’s cycling so they can get easy wins. That’s just not the case. There are plenty of trans people in sport, and very few make it to that upper echelon.
  • + 0
 @getrad24-7: I am sorry, I have to give you a pass I am not getting into it, I apologize I did, this is exactly why I roll my eyes whenever someone mentions Peterson or Harris because all these dudes do is talk about SJWs. I cannot take it, it's like Brian Cox earning cash on laughing at Flat Earhers. I shouldn't have spoken. You are probably right. I honestly do not have mind resources for arguing something this obvious given the evidence that can be seen anywhere by anyone. A thing that is more obvious than whether Earth is flat or not. I really honestly do not need alt right superstar JP to tell me that there are evident genetic differences between men and women. It is so simple because transgender women do not win with males on any elite level. They just don't, whereas the opposite is often the case. Just like I went ndaaaaaa whenever he rants about gulag. You can add me to your list and congratulations you nailed WAKi. And please don't feel honored, there's much more to life than a dedicated Wakis rant... sorry... I live and let live, I leave it to JP fans and SJWs to solve, gender issues of any kind have literally zero influence on my life. I just sometimes get angry when someone complicates an obvious thing. Some ideas are so ridiculous only an intellectual would find them attractive and the election of Donald Trump is the example that there are limitations to what intellect can do. JP is also an example where intellect becomes a on-productive, self serving thing. Just like fitness and nutrition industry destroyed the credibility of scientific research. Yeah your 3 studies against my 3 studies... End Rant. All the best of luck, zero hard feelings. Zero feelings actually...
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: “gender issues of any kind have literally zero influence on my life.” Excellent realization you’ve come to. Hopefully that means you’ll stop trying to weigh in on those issues.
  • + 0
 @getrad24-7: No honestly, that was a good realization... why the fk did I even... nevermind... I have to ask myself this question more often. Thank you, cheers!
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: I thinks it's far from obvious (here comes my total stab in the dark). It's safe to say that there are multiple parameters that physically differentiate a male from a female. Perfectly transitioning from one to the other would require the ability to precisely tune each of these parameters, like you would a car. Chassis, engine, fuel system, transmission, you get the idea (yes this is not a super-sharp beginning to my intervention). Tuning "down" a male body so that every parameter is equal to what it would have been had the individual been born female sounds like a tricky proposition using pre-22nd century technology. So eliminating each and every possible advantage is hard, as things currently stand.
But let's say you can perform a kind of negative doping using the methods currently available (including HRT) to the extent that you can measurably "handicap" (no connotations intended) someone who has transitioned to give them an overall level of ability that would be attainable by the average female athlete. Does the UCI's testosterone threshold work like this, i.e., does it overcompensate sufficiently so as to make up for the parameters that can't be controlled? No idea. But if that's the regulatory threshold currently in force, then what are you going to do? I'm sure there are some fine minds working on how to develop all these metrics, minds a f*ck of a lot finer than ours, because as people find the confidence to morph themselves into a person they can live with being, there will be more and more cases to address. Hopefully, everyone can be satisfied with the solutions eventually found.
  • + 0
 @BenPea: "Hopefully, everyone can be satisfied with the solutions eventually found". Don't go Swedish compromise on me mate... it is a solution where no side is satisfied, everybody loses so nobody is discriminated. When Swedes were asked to design a better horse, they took representatives of all sciences and political parties, and after 50 meetings they came up with a Giraffe
  • + 1
 @BenPea: There's been a lot in the news here recently about this subject, with female ex olympic athletes arguing their point with trans athletes. Two physiologists interviewed by the BBC agreed that the testosterone level currently required by the IOC (currently the same for UCI) is probably too high at 10 nml/L. Where IAAF rules apply its 10 nmol/L for some events, some have been reduced to 5, but the interviewees felt 3 nmol/L was a fairer level (most women have under 2 nml/L in their blood).
I'm not sure how we quantify fair when it comes to trans issues. Whichever side of the argument you're on, the other viewpoint may seem unfair. In which case, should we decide by way of choosing which affected party has the majority? As Waki says, life isn't fair and I'm really not sure how everyone affected can be placated.
  • + 1
 @metaam: Howdy! Yeah, I agree with most of what you’re saying. Tricky situation, for sure. I tried to dig up some studies for the sake of well-informed discussion, but unfortunately there just hasn’t been that much research. Best I could do was the Bearden article I posted, (which nobody really seems to be addressing) and a literature review of studies on the subject, which I haven’t quite had time to wade through just yet.

In any event, I think you’re getting at something by suggesting another category. I am, however, gonna take that in a different direction and propose that maybe it’s time we rethink how athletes are categorized. Not all men’s bodies are the same, nor are all women’s bodies. Some women are stocky, muscular sprinters; and some men are featherweight hill climb specialists. So there is quite a bit of physiological variation within each of our current categories. But our goal, presumably, is to have people competing against people who are biologically similar to them. Given, too, that many people (intersex and nonbinary folk, as well as those of us in the awkward middlin stages of transition) would prefer to respond “no” to the ol “man or woman” question, it seems there could be a better system. I don’t pretend to know what that system would look like, but it would ideally avoid the thorny issue of defining “man” and “woman,” and allow trans people to race our damn bikes without feeling miscategorized or receiving death threats.

Anyway, I’m glad you responded. Nice to talk to somebody who actually wants to have a discussion.
  • + 1
 @getrad24-7: The problem is, we have to base categories on something. I can't see weight and height working, Troy Brosnan and Rachel Atherton are a very close match on both. I know who my money's on.
  • + 1
 @metaam: True that. Obviously that’s not it though. Idk. Certainly food for thought.
  • + 1
 @metaam: yep, reminds me of the Irish backstop, our tech and imaginations are still way off finding anything better (at least in people's minds, which may never be fixed).
WAKIdesigns: keyword is hopefully. It might take some sci fi
magic to sort out.
  • + 1
 @jaame: yes. the fastest woman in the world is 100th fastest when you remove gender.

the disparity grows exponetially when you start going down the talent tree.
  • + 1
 @conoat: not to mention raw musculature vs femininity, Rachel, Gunn Rita, Cecile or Tracy Moseley, Vali Holl... They are big women and I mean it in the most neutral ways possible. I do not intend to insult them judged by their looks, but the muscular cross-section... The new breed is on the horizon, like Tahnee or ms Sandler, where skill and finesse shines, but that will also end when you get a specimen with both finesse and musculature. Each of the forementioned ladies can ride a bike damn well, but you can clearly see how Manon, Myriam just can't keep up at the bottom of demanding courses while Rachel muscles through. I saw girls at the bottom section of Val Di Sole and they were barely holding on to their bikes. Rachel on the other hand... is it just a matter of training? yes that is a variable. Just like genetics and upbringing before they started training. But upbringing is still one of the variables and hardly a determining factor for 20yr olds, they still have few years of prime juice from the nature to capitalize on. Now how much that changes after transition of gender is at this moment, of very little interest to me. I can only say that males are privileged. In every single variable I mentioned.

If I was to give a contradicting example, it would be BMX racing, where males are more muscular than MTBers, and I mean much more muscular, yet girls are tiny. Even Caroline Buchanan, who deadlifts just a tad less than I do, she is slim (ekhem olympic gold medalist in sprint vs me... troll). Her Hubbie, BMX racer? A mountain of dense flesh. The National BMX Dutch or Australian teams? Bejesus Christ... suddenly Adam Brayton looks like a Jerry.
  • - 2
 I've said it before and I'll say it again. If we are really seeking equality, the only way to do it is to have one category in which humans compete against humans. Age groups are ageist, gender classes are sexist. Just have an open class where everyone can compete. The only problem with that is, it wouldn't be fair to discriminate against chimpanzees, zebras or any other non-human who wanted to compete.
  • + 2
 @jose90: women's XC is way more exciting to watch than mens, and they are slower than the men...
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: literally this is the most ridiculous comment I have ever seen on pinkbike. I am a woman and I race downhill and I also know a lot of other women who also race downhill. When I buy a car, bike, or really anything, I look into the technical specs, not the "feeling" of the car or bike.

I think you need to choose the women you hang out with a little better if this is your impression. I know plenty of pansy-ass men as well. Just because the women you happen to associate with "want to play social games", does not mean that women as a whole are like that.
  • + 0
 @CeliaCF: Pansy ass? How rude!
  • + 2
 @CeliaCF: Seriously. I thought the MTB community was actually getting somewhere. What an absolute disappointment this thread has been.
  • - 1
 Well I did not mean it in a wrong way as if you were worse, I actually laughed at men for looking into irrelevant aspects but whatever you want to wash your personal non-gender, race, religion related insecurities in... as if there was any point into getting into technical features of a car other than size. Which is irrational enough. I also meant women by average, off course racing women are competitive in racing, except there are far fewer of them than competing men, for the exact same reason there are far fewer men in yoga classes, and half of them have testosterone level of a 60yr old... at my work it is mostly men working with construction drawings and women work with interior design, oh I guess my boss is a discriminating pig! Too bad none of the parties have any interest in doing othenroarties work...

pansy... really? Whatever you say.

@getrad24-7 if you can’t get that women barely qualify into mens race and that has to do mainly with their genes you WILL always be disappointed. Just like with the fact that a muscular male transitioning into being a woman will regain most of his musculature which tends to be double of a woman who trained as mich as he did. No amount of HRT driven muscular atrophy will level out the field unless you started competing 10 years after transition. I would qualify to womens race. Waki would qualifyto womens race, do you need any more proof?
  • + 1
 @getrad24-7: what were you hoping for?
  • + 1
 @iRiderPB: Missy sold lots of bikes or weed?
  • - 1
 @BenPea: out of respect to transgender people:

Background: the issue is beyond obvious because figuring it out is not that hard if you ever had any contact with scientific method. We can for instance take a sport where environmental variables are limited. Like short distance running. We are speaking of elite competition, like 400 meters on Olympics. That is a developed sport, meaning all participants, both men and women categories have dialed the training methods as well as draft to Olympic teams. In this way the variable of TRAINING (as getrad suggests) becomes a constant. Each participant has maxed it out (unless you want to argue that women are opressed and cannot train as well as men, which is extremely unlikely in popular discipline on Olympic level...)

Aim: Determine whether Gender an play a role in athletic performance.

Method: So, please take the results from Olympic finals of best men and women, from Rio Olympics:

Womens gold: 49.4. Mens Gold 43.03, The slowest male in the final run at 44.68 which is like 8-10 meters behind the winner. That means the fastest woman arrived at least 20m behind if not more. Video and results available online.

Weight lifting, snatch/ clean and jerk under 58kg body weight (my wife weighs 58kg):
Womens Gold 105/130kg
Mens Gold: 137/170kg

Whoever has trained weight lifting for a bit should be able to easily realize the dramatic difference between 105 and 130 kilograms on deadlift, not even mentioning snatch. As the weight (read available muscle mass) grows, the disparity between genders grows. 75+kg class (heaviest women 120kg body mass) 130/177, mens (157kg body mass) 215/258. For comparison best sub 120kg man: 179/232. If you look at the results, the desparity between women themselves drop dramatically. Men are more uniform.

Swimming: Men win in each single category, on shortest distance 50m freestyle 3 seconds. I quit Olympoic male domination examples here. These results are widely available and nr of disciplines where men beat women is dominant to put it mildly

Now for a change BMX racing, here the gender is virtually irrelevant actually women win. Mens gold: 34.642, Womens Gold 34.049

2018 Val Di Sole World Cup DH: Amaury Pierron 3:36, Tahnee Seagrave 4.26. Last place in Mens final Kenta Galagher 62th 4:18. This is a dramatic difference. If any of these men, and pool is 62, decided to transition into being a woman, they would have a high chance of winning. Their motorics and skill cannot suffer because of HRT to any bigger degree. Neither their musculature, given they keep training as they did. It is insane to think otherwise. Given the opposite situation, there is almost a minute to be made. It will not happen.

XC: Nino 1:26:32, Maja:1:30:51. 4.5 minutes, equals 26th male.

Conclusion: on elite levels of (vast) majority of sports women get worse results than men by a (fair) margin. Since training methods have been developed under scientific scrutiny to limits of human ability, they can be treated as a constant factor. Both men and women, coming in various body types, have equal training opportunities and devote same time scales to reach maximum available performance. The only factor left is genetics. And it so happens that statistically, on average, males do better. Therefore gender matters.

Conclusion nr2. One does not need scientific degree to come to such conclusion.

The further research is necessary to determine how much of a handicap can be generated in a biological male through the process of transitioning into a woman. It is however worth considering, that a transitioning male has a high incentive to retain as much of their physiological advantage (built over the years of training) as possible.

Trivia:
Whoever looks for any form of justice in universe driven inequality of opportunity in the sphere of athletic performance where male dominance is evident (as shown above) will always be disappointed since his expectations cannot meet reality.

On amateur level the case is impossible to resolve, especially in endurance sports where muscle mass plays little role. In fact in ultra marathons, women do much better. We are on a mountain biking site dedicated to gravity riding where mental aspect of taking risks is a big factor. Studies showing male higher tendency to take risks are plenty. Once can however do a quick google search on gambling, speeding, extreme sport participation how men fare with women.
  • - 1
 @WAKIdesigns: you're coming at this from a position of certainty, which is always shaky ground. Theoretically, as the world goes more sci fi, there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to tune the human body like a car engine, to the point where you're near as damn it sure that that woman who was in a man's body is now in a woman's, including performance -wise. Again, many are convinced that we are already there, but I think it's early days. On the other hand, there has been some success for a trans athlete in road cycling - possibly because everyone seems slightly tuned-up in that sport and there are better methods than the "formerly in a man's body" protocol - success being in the sense that she (Rachel McKinnon) doesn't always win. But who knows if that's even relevant, it could be a red herring.
That was going to be a brief reply.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: Given no human apocalypse by 2100, with this rate of advance in genetics and robotics, athletic sports will be retro. I have no doubt about that. Also in all honesty, as I said on numerous occasions, “fairness” in Olympics is a very blurry concept
  • + 1
 Neg props suggest either that I didn't mention Bearden or that I'm wrong about road cycling. Sorry...

@WAKIdesigns: it's easy to overthink it, but it's also necessary. Good luck to those with skin in the game.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: there have been more than Danica and they were at the highest level. Give you a hint, one of the greatest was French.
  • + 0
 You mean times when you could drink all night then sniff cocaine and win a race, or be almost burned alive then come back 3 months later and win a championship? What exactly are you trying to prove other than nitpick a bit of comment of mine just to soothe your butthurtness. Well here I can give you that I’ve seen women driving like male idiots, but I definitely see more men driving like idiots. When I come to our gokart place women are thin on the ground and when they show up, they are slow. There is no societal pressure in Sweden for women to not attend motor racing. Which basically means they come in 1 per 20 guys and even if they do there is one per 1000 that is faster than an average bloke in there, which dramatically limits the amount of women coming to top levels, even above average level. Can you now tell me where in all that I disrespected women? Or do you see stating an obvious fact as an insult? I do not need to come up to a fat guy at the bus stop and tell him he is fat, but if someone next to me nags me me asking if I think he is fat I have no option than quietly reply that the lad over there is indeed fat and if he asked me why, I would reply because he cannot count up his metabolic rate and then count calories he is eating. He probably stuffa himself with lots of sht. Do You know how hard it is to get so fat by eating sallad? I am fat shaming people now? Or stating the obvious? Because someone around me fails to accept reality and tries to get on a high moral horse? Keep digging it will be even better.
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I didn't say you disrespect woman. You did that already on a very large number of occasions. And yes the night before with sex drugs and Rock and Roll and she still beat all then men.... Blah blah blah all you want Waki.
  • + 0
 @Keit: I meant James Hunt and Niki Lauda you bumpot
  • + 1
 I fail to see how stating the obvious is disrespectful to anyone. Fat man at a bus stop analogy is a good one. Children pick up on these things from the earliest age. I mean, before they have been made aware of the patriarchy etc. Perhaps there are times when people say things that don't need to be said, myself included, but it doesn't mean those things are not true.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: once again you have to insult and are poorly informed. Let me help you out of the human toilet. www.sportskeeda.com/f1/f1-5-women-drivers-in-f1-ss/5
www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/45796892
And please stop calling me your catholic priests pet names and seek help. Someone once said to you: you know enough to be a problem but never enough to actually be of any use.
  • + 1
 @Keit: typical BBC left wing bias. "F1 is a profession in which women barely seem to feature."

Conclusive proof of the patriarchy.

That is the only possible reason for there being only one female race winner in the history of the sport.
  • + 0
 @jaame: thank you. Precisely my point. Even though they have shown their worth cycling is somewhat less biased towards woman, at least in mtb. Still far from perfect.
  • + 1
 @Keit: actually Jaame was being sexist, upgrade your sarcasm detector.
  • + 1
 @Keit: ju tyvärr
  • + 1
 @BenPea: no sorry, no BMX domination for women in Rio either... I took another look and they had a shorter track, not takin pro line on 3rd straight.

m.youtube.com/watch?v=IYkIH9U-GmM

Begs for question... do women ride same track as men on XCO? Aren’t they like 1 lap shorter and still slower?
  • + 1
 To put it straight. I may be right and I may be ahole about it, but I just won’t get a person tell me Earth is flat and expect me not to argue to just not hurt their feelings, especially when they push it. Yes “educate yourself” has pushed my button, yes... There are evident, beyond obvious biological differences between men and women that go beyond balls or boobs. Men are by average stronger, fitter, more aggressive and more keen to take risks, which makes them superior in competition. Furthermore by average men value physical competition more than women. Having said that I believe it does not lower their value as human beings by any, I repeat ANY measure. Furthermore I can say that I value riding with women rather highly. They may not always be partners to throw some elbows with or curse as their ride away, but they are much better companions than men. When I watch this is home with Tahnee, I am entertained, when I watch 90% of promoswith dudes her age I want to kick the screen since I’ve heard it all. So nothing to women, on the opposite.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: and willies. Men have willies. Women don't have willies. And most men can grow a beard, whereas only some women can grow a beard.
  • + 1
 @jaame: Also, putting up shelves. Men kick arse at putting up shelves. I haven't met a woman who can stick a shelf to a wall like I can. Never.
What are we talking about again?
  • + 1
 @BenPea: Daddy Pig didn't fare to well at putting up that shelf in Peppa and George's bedroom. I guess we get a pass on that though, because he is a pig rather than a man.
  • + 1
 @jaame: Daddy pig is a shill.
  • + 2
 @jaame: to give him his dues, after he knocked an external wall down when trying to hang a picture, he did rebuild said wall, then plaster and paint it all to perfection.
  • + 1
 I like women because they can get to a grocery with a shopping list conraining 15 items and exit with 20 times, paying 30€ for them. A man will get into a same store, with same list, pay 50€ for 10 items, 5 of which were not on the list, none of which can be used to make the planned dinner.

Women also raise quality of conversations during a ride, and when that pompous twat starts talking how great his new long bike is, we ignore him and talk with Ebbie and Annie how great it is to squat in Yoga pants, how awesome it is to ride in Finale Ligure where you can rip great trails then take off your clothes and jump straight into the sea. Otherwise we would have to listen about 35mm rim width or forks in BMW motorcycles.

At my work, women outperform men in nearly every single aspect. If I am asked whether I need help I always ask for a woman. She will perform the task, find 5 problems we didn’t find, solve half of them, then quote regulations that apply that we didn’t see. When a woman is asked what does a particular rule will say about this and that, she will point to the exact location of the book where I can find the information. A dude will say I think it is like that, which in 90% of cases will be a wrong answer straight out of his arse.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Have you pitched this saucy sitcom idea to Swedish TV? I think it's more suited to a latin audience, but that's just me.
Otherwise, sounds like a fun alternative reality.
  • + 1
 @alexhyland: welcome to PB's Reddit corner.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: I just watched sea cucumber taking a poop video - give me a break... don’t google it
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I just pooped a sea cucumber watching the young Danny Mac.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: it is my favorite edit of his. It just gets bets better and better with every minute
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: i take it you've never seen a Taco Salad! LMAO
  • + 1
 @BenPea: @jaame - we have this thing with Great Lundgren performing a school strike and demonstrations all over the world. I don't discuss my opinion on her stance, but try to get a dude 1.try to do that 2.get such response... . A 15yr old boy may try to do that, yes, if he fancies a girl who is into climate things... or is totally butthurt by being bullied by dudes who come form climate denying families. Look! I can kick the verbal sht out of 15yr old bodys and nobody cares!


...Unless it has to do with Michael
  • + 87
 This is like asking why more cosmetic companies don't have men as their paid spokes models.
  • + 4
 But they dont... It's a one-way street. No one complains about female dominated fields. It's always about "we need more women here, there, everywhere" and "why aren't there enough women here??"

Also called Marxism (oppressor and the oppressed ideology) and probably beta cuckery that keeps fueling this BS
  • + 9
 @theminsta: "beta?" "cuckery?" Hopefully your comments are a failed attempt at satire. If I wanted to read this sort of drivel I'd read the YouTube comments on a Jordan Peterson video. Get yourself another saddle mate, that one's chafing your nads.
  • + 5
 @Malky79: What is a Jordan Peterson?
  • + 0
 @Malky79 - the moment I heard Peterson is on tour I knew he’s ears deep into the void and nobody comes out of there the same as he was before. And he has a long way up. Th good old truth of becoming a monster when fighting monsters, or all the stages of becoming a Messiah. Speaking up in the temple, feeding thousands, only to be shamed and leveled with the ground, when weak followers realize he didn’t bring salvation and gladly join the enemies. So there it is JP leveled with SJW or snowflake. Another Trivialized term in wr between idiots. We will see how the Petersons resurrection will look like. What seed he has planted in good peoples minds...

So hey cheer up man, don’t let JP SJW get into you, it certainly did.

@Ian713 That was fricking funny Big Grin
  • + 0
 @theminsta: I sprayed coffee from my nose when I read "beta cuckery" man. You nailed it right in the head.
  • + 4
 @fruitsd79: It's a thing that makes insecure people feel important.
  • + 1
 @Malky79: you are insecure about it otherwise you wouldn’t react on him like that. Everyone is insecure in some spot, he definitely pushes yours. SJWs push mine because I was always suspicious towards folks in my surrounding who play insincere mind games in order to compensate for their social and physical appearance. I can smell a white knight or caring wendy for a mile. Probably because I played one for a few years in primary school. Then I saw it unfold for others. I can perfectly understand them, for one reason or another they are lower in the hierarchy and feel put in that place by deliberate actions of the elite (which is only partly true, genetics being much more influential. Their strategy is indeed a smart one and they are injecting idea of equality into the general public, it’s just that they get fkd up in the process. They are casualties of the greater mind of humanity. Just like Peterson... or anyone on far side of any spectrum. Including Dalai Lama. Peterson falls because exposure brought him to attention of all sorts of right wingers and he they love him, they quote him, all sorts of idiots post pieces of his videos with caption “Peterson destroys a feminist”. And those who don’t like feminists get riled up, feminists get riled up, people on the side go: why does he have alt right people around him?. Like Taylor Swift became unwillingly the goddess of far right.

Every Messiah goes dowm that drain because through such mega exposure, they expose all sides of their personality and nobody likes everything about somebody. You no longer need to fill the blanks and many of them have been filled with something you may not like. Also, there is no way to get this much exposure and zeal without creating a distorted persona of what you used to be.
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns: I would reply to your comment, but I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to articulate.
  • + 2
 @Malky79: I think what the gentleman is trying to say is that JP's fans like him for the wrong reasons, the right reasons being something to do with the void, which is where the best seats are if you want to watch humanity eat itself in comfort. That's the best I can come up with.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: not the last part. Peterson is good at describing why humans act the way they act and says that the Hammer and the Sickle is no better than a Swastica, so be careful which ideas you are looking up to. That sums him up.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: cool, I like cuddly centrists!
  • + 0
 @WAKIdesigns: that is a very fair summary of Jordan Peterson's message.
  • + 0
 @BenPea: I am the one I am. I have no home and I belong to no club. None of them can survive the singularity of the void. They get spagghettified... hence the flying spaghetti monster.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: That JP is a compelling raconteur.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Also, testosterone kills apparently.....
  • + 0
 @BenPea: yes, thise who have lots of it tend to be aggressive and they may kill you
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Yes also, but he implies that it takes years off your life compared to women, just from a biological perspective. Hormonal oppression!
  • + 1
 @BenPea: I would still do TRT if it was easily available in Sweden under doctors supervision. Deadlifting 405 up till 65... I am planning a hypothermic suicide in mountains at around that age anyways.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns: problem solved then.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: centrists? you mean inefectual f*cktards?
  • + 80
 why are no woman at rampage? or joy ride? it must be because toxic masculinity or possibly white male privilege or it could be because the organization is sexist but this is a major scandal and we must get to the bottom if it. I think its Trump's fault
  • + 23
 Hell, they even want a women's tour de france with equal exposure and prize money but with less stages and less steep mountains.
  • + 7
 @almacigatrailrider: and less sponsors
  • + 0
 @almacigatrailrider: hahaha want all the respect and money "rights" but not all the responsibility
  • + 2
 @robG413:You think the men went as big 15 years ago as they do now? Gotta start at a level that can grow with the capability of the riders - not turn them away from the sport. My local bike park got a world class jump line this summer. Do you think any locals have hit it yet? No! Our bike park is brand new and the progression isn't there yet. This summer .... maybe. It is no different Smile
  • + 1
 @jax888: Agree. But we won't ask for Brandon Semenuk money if we eventually hit those lines doing one-handers.
  • + 1
 @jax888: that is a good point I would love to see woman rip rampage or joy ride but that is not my point. i am not saying its not posable just pointing out the reason why men get more views and money, they ride really really fast and go really really big and its crazy to watch so that brings in more money and sponsorship its simple math I have never and do not support turning woman away, i never stated that but you knew that your just trying to put me in a box. the problem is that some people are trying to created a big problem that is not real. this is only going to create a bigger problem and divide us. its a shame to see this going on in 2019
  • + 71
 Funny that Kathy Sessler claims there is more opportunity for women when she has single handedly pushed back the progression of women in the industry for years.

She campaigned for multiple years to get the UCI to make women worth only 1/2 the overall ranking points in the WC DH series just to prevent teams who had women on them from being considered for the overall team title.

She voted, along with Martin Whiteley to make this happen.

Sessler is the SOLE REASON that more WC DH teams don't sponsor women.

It seems like Pinkbike always interviews her on these topics and she's been notoriously anti equality when it comes to women in sport.

Women absolutely DO NOT have more opportunities then men in cycling.
  • + 11
 Thanks, this is clearly relevant background information that should've been included in the article. Any more info on the subject, would be interested in reading up?
  • + 8
 Such an underrated comment, everyone should read this and let it sink in before defending Sessler's self-serving statement.
  • + 0
 equality or equal opportunity
  • + 64
 Eurgh Kathy Sessler's comments are the worst, typical of the average female boss/team leader you get in a big corporate workplace, as soon as a woman of that type gets any position of accomplishment they'll stop at nothing to tread on any other women below them and make out they're nothing but deserving of where they've got to thanks to all their 'hard work', and any other girl who hasn't made it yet just isn't trying hard enough.

In reality anyone who makes it to the top anywhere, has had a long chain of being in the right place at the right time and good luck combined with the hard work and effort they've put in over the years that they credit their achievements to, and at the moment, there is a diminishing scope for being 'in the right place at the right time' for female athletes in downhill mtb, despite it appearing, at least on the consumer level, to be a rapidly growing sport for females.

I think a savvy mtb brand / team should always have at least 1 female rider on the team as they are invaluable towards the overall marketing of mountainbiking, more women observed riding = more non riding women being accepting of the sport or even starting to ride = more ride time for us husbands! Lol
  • + 23
 Kathy’s comments are pure trash. She’s branded the question as unworthy of even a response - it’s just a question and a reasonable one.
  • + 19
 I thought the same about her answer. At first I was like "is she high??" but then I remembered she fits exactly into the type you described, the "one of the lads" middle-aged, anti-feminist female corporate manager who's in denial about the fact that according to hard data she got extremely lucky to be where she is as a woman. Not to mention her corporate job is in no way comparable to that of an athlete.

Lars on the other hand, well done sir.
  • + 10
 " It's been a personal perspective of mine for 30 years that women actually have more opportunity in this sport than men and my personal career has proven this to myself."

Is she out of her mind? Can you imagine if one of the males in this article said that?

I'd like to hope this was taken out of context somehow.
  • + 16
 Right... So when you don't stick to the typical victim hood narrative, your opinion is 'trash', you must be 'high' and you must be 'out of your mind'... Maybe she actually knows what she is talking about as he has been doing this for 30 years?
  • + 16
 The pat on the back she gave to Santa Cruz for Juliana bikes is laughable. There's really nothing special about those bikes and the range is too expensive, no variety in price point. I wade through male dominated ads, social media, and articles daily and get frustrated with so many aspects. Her comments just belittled my frustrations. Good job Santa Cruz, you never had me as a customer, and your female employee just guaranteed I'll never be one.
  • + 4
 Sessler's comments sounded suspiciously like... common sense. Huh.
  • + 3
 @cvoc: what exactly has she been doing for the last 30 years? Has she ever raced bikes professionally? Does she even ride bro? Why is her corporate career relevant to the question PB asked? Why should anecdotal evidence matter?

Have you never met people, regardless of gender, who credit themselves with way too much? In every discussion about economy you will hear "self-made-men" telling you how they achieved everything they have totally on their own only to learn they were born to middle class parents with higher education, were sent to good schools, had time for homework because they didn't have to help pay the rent or hide from abusive families and started work experience at their parents' (or their mates') companies. She's doing exactly the same, ignoring the fact that only a tiny minority of women get to where she is (and she isn't even anywhere that impressive). Don't ask me why people BS about that - I never had a problem admitting I had a very good start in life and crediting my family or circumstances where it's due. Maybe people like Sessler low key doubt themselves and thus need to build that facade? Maybe they're insecure about their positions to the point where they'll actively hinder others' careers? I don't know man, maybe they simply need an excuse to exploit their employees 'cause then if someone doesn't want to be a slave anymore they just give them the old "what do you mean you want to get paid for work you ungrateful, entitled millennial; when I was your age we didn't sleep, ate experience and drank prestige".
  • + 5
 @bananowy: completely agree with you, I know a few people like that, and I have distanced myself from them as fast as possible. They typically feed off others accomplishments and make them their own. You've summed it up nicely.
  • + 1
 @bananowy:
Really, you get all of that from this short interview? She just gave her opinion, you're free to disagree with her. I just don't think she deserves to have her mental state questioned by some of the people here.
  • + 9
 @cvoc: Yup, I kind of did based on having heard similar cliches many times. I just gave my opinion too. I know I'm free to disagree with her (thanks for the permission though mate), I'm also free to dislike her because of what she said. That being said, I never questioned her mental state, only her relevance, credibility and integrity. Sort of like she questioned the work ethos, resourcefulness and worth of women in mtb other than herself.
  • + 2
 @cvoc: And by the way, please read @midwestxmike 's comment below and then tell me my judgement of Sessler's intentions was wrong.
  • + 3
 I wish I could upvote part of your comment and downvote another haha. Great debate around these topics!
  • + 2
 @melikebikealot14: I know man, it's never black and white, is it?
  • - 2
 @bananowy: Your undying need to bash people from the shield of the internet is truly sad. When you are secure with yourself you typically have the capacity to be supportive and optimistic, I feel sorry for your pathetic self.
  • + 1
 @bananowy Kathy has excelled as BOTH an athlete and a team manager. Therefore she holds a unique perspective that very few people have. She is in no way anti-feminist nor is she in denial, I think you should educate yourself and maybe reflect on your own issues rather than bash a woman leader on the internet, very brave of you!
  • + 10
 @robito: I agree the "my personal career has proven this" crack is right up there with Steven Colbert's take on climate change deniers: "Global warming is fake because it's cold here? Wow, I guess world hunger is solved because I just ate!"

That said, I think at the local/regional level it is easier for women to get some level of support than men. There are just fewer of us out there, so I feel like if you're personable, compete regularly, and don't totally suck, you'll at least be able to swing some bro, er, sis deals from a local shop or something.

But if you actually are quite fast... just not fast enough to make it on the race broadcast... sorry, the LBS isn't going to fly you around the world to compete and neither is any manufacturer. I think there's kind of a catch 22 at the moment where the women's field isn't very deep, therefore it's not very interesting, therefore it doesn't get a lot of coverage, therefore fewer women are inspired to really commit to racing because they--and teams that might sponsor them--just don't see a bright future in it.
  • + 3
 @cvoc: my comment was more that she won't even acknowledge that it's a legit question, whether you or she agree or not. If she wants to argue there's great opportunities for women in the industry, and that Syndicate would hire a woman if one came available, then she should go ahead and make the case, but why attack the question first? It's a fair question, and wasn't posed in a divisive way...
  • + 7
 YASSS thank you, @ctd07 for putting all that into words. Her answer really made me bristle and you've articulated why so well.

The other thing that made me roll my eyes is her equating her Team Mom status to female representation in 50/01. Really? That's a super lame excuse. She's not the one in front of the lens, pushing boundaries, representing. Women don't need another 'caretaker' role model, thanks.

Also, in my own opinion, Juliana do a good job of holding women back into that 'aspirational adventure' cliche. They'll justify by saying it's more immediately relatable, i.e. lowest hanging fruit, but if you believe that representation is important, it's incredibly limiting.

Come on, there are so many women out there accomplishing way more than just 'heading out for an adventure with my girls'. Let's start seeing that.
  • + 6
 Its pretty unfortunate that the only sexist comment here is from Kathy. I'm sure shes a great person but that was a garbage comment. Kinda makes sense now why Syndicate is the only major team to have not sponsored a woman rider.

She reminds of those college girls who "only hang out with guys because its less drama"
  • + 3
 @powderturns: her issue was her perception of the question being framed as a debate, which leads to people being put into camps one side of the question or the other and arguing vigorously for them, making the issue contentious when it need not necessarily be.

The alternative is a mere conversation where the participants don't take sides but just openly and fearlessly talk things through.

For the record I don't think her perception of the question being framed as a debate is accurate, but these things very often are.
  • + 5
 Yeah. A woman who for some reason doesn't share your views is a terrible person who only got lucky to get her corporate job. Yeah. Screw hardwork and talent. Sessler is just lucky coz she didn't agree with me.
  • + 0
 @powderturns: I think it was vary true to what she see and thinks maybe she thinks your thoughts are trash
  • + 3
 @robito: It's pretty accurate. Look at the top men, the level of competition. Then look at the top women and the level of competition. You can be a top 10 female DH rider and consistently be 30+ seconds off the lead time, transfer that to the mens class and you won't even qualify. Then transfer that downstream to middling sponsorships, julliana, Liv, all the ambassadors etc, you can be of middle to low talent and still get free gear/swag/frames simply by being a personality. There is certainly nothing wrong with advertising like that, its just a fact that it is easier for women to stand out at the low/mid levels because there is less competition.
  • + 0
 "average female boss" ---- 15 years has been managing the most winning team of all time. Your comment continues to polarize women and men/ woman and woman...because it not about a women. Syndicate has a history of incredible talent, loyalty, and charisma that no other team can come touch on ("loyalty"). IF A " MISSY GIOVE" comes along.... I am sure Syndicate would be first to grab her. Just because there is not a" fit " YET for Syndicate team to have a women does not make them anti women ....

FYI : Are you running a "savvy" brand to comment on what is valuable... BECAUSE if not --- your statement is not credible.
>>>> and " more ride time for the husbands"..... now you are contradicting yourself and putting "us women" in a "box"--- ughhhhhh
  • + 1
 @graniteandrew: that just how it is and to change that would not make anymore money for the brands. but the left would be fine with company failing and going out of business as long as they get a warm gushy feeling inside
  • + 2
 @mgaleb: He's not even bashing anyone he's just stating his own opinion. What are you? A social justice warrior? You dont even realize that you're doing the same EXACT thing you are accusing him of doing. The only difference is you personally attacked him with a little jab at the end (from the shield of the internet).
  • + 1
 @mgaleb: Wait, did you create a PB account just 3 days ago specifically to "bash me from the shield of the internet"? Is that just ironic or would you say "truly sad"?

I fully agree with your sentiment though, if Kathy Sessler was secure with herself she would have the capacity to be supportive and optimistic.
  • + 35
 Here we go again...
  • + 8
 The Patriarchy!!!
  • + 23
 For those that suggest the reason being that there are few women riders capable of podium-ing, it's probably true. However, this is also an effect of the way it's been going. If you had Gwin, Minnaar, Atherton, Pierron and Bruni all with factory support and then racing against 15 privateers, with only the top 5 getting any coverage how easy do you think it would be for any of those privateers to get a spot on the podium?

My wife loves watching the womens DH and is inspired by it, i'm sure she's not alone. We (well, maybe some of you do?) don't want it to be a boys club that does everything to put women off. The EWS and wnduro seem to be doing a much better job at bringing women in and (correct me if i'm wrong) but there are now more supported EWS riders than DH.

I think in reality, that's probably the only route for female riders, get started with Enduro and then try downhill.
  • + 6
 Does your wife watch DH then want to go buy a Atherton bike? As men we are stupid and think the winning bike is what we need to go fast. My wife is smarter than that and wants a bike the suits her, so rider sponsorship means nothing to her.
Does the top woman rider influence what the majority of mostly male bike buyers want?
  • + 3
 Hell, I'm inspired by the women's riding. Facts are the top ladies ride faster than most gravity bro's. Realistically, I ride closer to the top ladies speeds than the men's anyhow. Some keyboard jockeys need to look in the mirror.
  • + 1
 @mattradical: But does a dh lady influence your buying decision?
  • + 5
 I'd assume there are more opportunities for women in enduro because enduro media coverage is the same for men and women...unless I'm misremembering the recaps from last season, it's been a while. Also, enduro plays more to women rider's strengths (technique, endurance) than DH, where all the technique in the world won't save you if you don't have insanely fast reflexes and aren't strong enough to soak up insanely big hits. I think Cecile and company are just as impressive to watch as the top guys and the women's times, percentage wise, are a lot closer to the dudes in enduro than in DH. Ultimately factory teams probably want whoever's riding the bike to make it look good, and it might just be easier for women to do that on an enduro stage than a DH course.

Of course whether women's race results sell bikes is another issue... Honestly as a woman I would be more likely to buy, say, a Liv if somebody put it on the podium in the EWS because that shows that despite being purple the thing can still fly and take a beating, and I'm more likely to buy a Trek because Katy Winton rips on hers and she's about my size. But then again, based on the current numbers, most bikes are gonna be sold to men, and if men don't care about women's race results, well... that's a good reason--well, it's A reason--for teams to not sponsor women.
  • + 1
 @RLEnglish: Exactly. Race on Sunday sell on Monday. Or should I say 'Race a Sunday... sell them to every Sam Hill fan boy. And then when he changes to Specialized, the Demo is the hot ticket." And so on. I've never heard of a person buying a bike because [insert woman's name here] rides one. The top guys sell bikes. The top girls don't. YT anyone?

I think women are more likely to buy bikes based on participatory-type marketing, as practiced by Giant and Trek programs. Women are communicators, men are competitors, and the way to sell your product to them differs.
  • + 0
 @RLEnglish: well you must be stupid lots of us men read up on reviews and look at geo before we buy a bike lol
  • + 1
 @robG413: So pro riders man or women doesn't influence you then? A bike company sponsors riders to increase sales.
Would you be influenced if a company did trail advocacy instead of a race program?.
  • + 5
 " We (well, maybe some of you do?) don't want it to be a boys club that does everything to put women off."

Ya, like the time I was at DH race and watched Tippy, who was the announcer for the event, congratulate the men on the podium and hand over new tires too each of them and then when it was the ladies podium, he had only one tire left to give out, so thought he should make them compete with pushups for it... Blank Stare
  • + 20
 Its like saying why are there no female slopestyle riders. If an unsponsered female rider comes along tomorrow and gets within 10 seconds of Rachel Atherton im sure she would have many many options for sponsorship. Much harder for a guy you could say? I love watching the womens races but how many of them are truely in with a chance of a win?
  • + 2
 only 2 girls seem to be winning.
  • + 1
 but, to get there they need support, sponsorship and all that goes along with it - its not magic, if there were more opportunities with big teams to help bring them up to speed, provide pro support then maybe we wold see more - its got to start somewhere - there are less females, so, for now we need to give as much a helping hand as possible, with as much promotion and support as possible, to the point where we will eventually see too many women riding,and teams can pick and choose , but they cant, they have to help develop and nurture, then go from there
  • + 2
 @makdthed: costs a lot of money for a team to bring up someone that may not turn out.
  • + 22
 as so often Transition is one of the few companies that talk straight and don´t fuse around
  • + 14
 They talk like sponsoring someone isn't about making money. Doesn't sound like talking straight to me.
  • + 15
 @IntoTheEverflow: sure. They want to make money. But spend any time watching Transition and how they operate, and it’s clear that they are just stoked about mountain biking. I’d put them up against any other major brand in terms of admirable motives (as far as a business has admirable motives). Really, most of the people in the industry are in it because they love bikes.
  • + 15
 Yeah, I was happy to read Lars' comments. Great dude, legit company, happy to own a couple of their bikes. I think he hits the nail on the head with this:

"What does it tell aspiring young girl mountain bikers when there are only a handful or women that can support themselves from a racing career? If there were more opportunities to justify pursuing a career as a professional mountain biker more young girls would do it, eventually increasing female participant numbers. Yeah, the old chicken before egg argument I know, but I feel it's up to the industry to create the change."
  • + 22
 I hadn't been considering Transition as my next bike but I am now. My money is worth just as much as a man's. I probably spend more on my bike wardrobe than men and spend just as much on parts and maintenance. Seems like supporting more women is a win in the end.
  • - 3
 @PinkFraggle: It is not like transition is sponsoring a woman who has trouble finding a sponsor.
Maybe if they sponsored a woman who was not very near the top, I would be impressed.
Until then they are just like every other company out there.
  • + 7
 @IntoTheEverflow: wait. To have your respect a company has to intentionally hire less skilled riders? Tahnee rose to the top largely while on Transition anyway. That just isn’t a rational stance to me. Is there another company whose marquee athlete is female?
  • + 1
 @BiNARYBiKE: Trek last year, Atherton bikes this year. Polygon UR. Commencal in EWS.
  • + 5
 @BiNARYBiKE: I did not know transition brought her to the top.
I respect them for it and I guess they then deserve the right to suggest other companies to do the same.
  • + 8
 @IntoTheEverflow: I appreciate your ability to read other's comments and admit validity. It's rare and I'm not being sarcastic.

Transition is a local company for me. After reading their take, I feel like I've got a better reason to support them than just the fact that they are locals.
  • + 3
 @Malky79: although Rachel is their most successful DH racer, I don’t know if you could say she is Trek’s marquee athlete. I see your point but I’m talking overall premier athlete representing the brand. I don’t think it’s the same for Trek or Polygon or Commencal as it is for Transition, where Tahnee is far and away the biggest name on the brand.
  • + 3
 @BiNARYBiKE: You don't think Rachel was the marquee athlete on Trek last year? Who was?
  • + 8
 @Rusettipasta: Lars is definitely on point here. His attitude makes me more likely to buy bikes from them. Good job Lars and Transition!
  • + 3
 @Malky79: fair question. I’m not sure but I wonder if Brandon Semenuk, as far as MTB, is the biggest name for the brand. I’m not downplaying Rachel’s impact or Trek’s support of women. Lots of brands are backing many great women, but all those brands also back many great men. I’m just saying Transition is unique in that Tahnee is really the only big name on their bikes across all disciplines. Unless I’m forgetting something, they don’t have a male representing them near the top of any discipline. I guess think of it this way: Perhaps they can only afford to put a lot of money behind one big time rider in one discipline, and they chose a woman to be that one rider. I think that’s cool.
  • + 2
 @BiNARYBiKE: I think Rachel and Jolanda Neff's greater mass appeal would have placed them ahead of Semenuk on the roster. Trek's been given a hard time for having no female DH elite this year, but as a company they appear to invest a lot in female athletes.
You are right about Tahnee being Transition's top rider though, but it just makes good business sense. Sponsor one of the top 4 female riders and you are virtually guaranteed a podium in every race. The men's is so much less predictable.
  • + 11
 @BiNARYBiKE: It goes so far that Lars brought Tahnee out to Bellingham about a year ago and made the time for her to spend an afternoon riding with local girls. Lots of those girls were already racing, several more from that day have started racing now.
  • + 2
 @Malky79: good point about Jolanda. And I agree it’s a clever business move by Transition.
  • + 1
 @IntoTheEverflow: I'm not sure it's right to say they brought her to the top. She won the Junior World Champs with Intense, then was on Devinci for a few years before signing with Transition in 2016.
  • + 0
 @PinkFraggle: transition is only backing one woman... and she is almost the best woman maybe you should support a company that supports more than one lol
  • + 0
 @PinkFraggle: also ask your local bike shops about how transition cuts them out of deals and provides vary poor support for the shops that sell them,
  • + 2
 @kamsbry: I absolutely LOVE the Bham bike scene! So many awesome women to ride with and a terrific community of people. And, the NW Cup race model is such a great way to get more women into DH racing too. Our BC Cup DH race scene for women is stagnant and underwhelming when it comes to female representation but check out a NW Cup race and the ratio is so much higher and the vibe is awesome. I wish I lived closer to the border, this would definitely be my go-to race circuit.
  • + 1
 Came here to say this! Best Reply in the article, still glad I'm riding one of those people's bikes!
  • + 19
 So the big teams are looking for female riders "capable of winning World Cups" in order to sponsor them, while women are looking for the big teams to support them in order to win World Cups.
If you asked me, one of them has to do a leap of faith and currently it's not the big teams committing to that...
  • + 19
 Because it's a business and you make decisions that give the best ration of revenue versus operating costs...
  • + 1
 Yeah because fuck everyone who isn't already at an advantage, fuck progressive thinking, fuck everything but PROFITS.
  • + 4
 @bikekrieg: Please show the world how it is done!
Start up that progressive thinking company and sponsor people that don't help you sell bikes.
  • + 1
 @bikekrieg: as much as you'd like to think it's not about money. That's what it's about in every business
  • + 1
 @ibishreddin: it has to be no one, no one risks there lively hood and money for free.
  • + 14
 HELLO, remember when Amanda Batty already wrote something about this TWO YEARS f*ckING YEARS AGO?

Oh, it also has actual economic data attached to it as well.

blog.amandabatty.com/2017/02/hot-take-intense-factory-racing-and.html?m=1
  • + 4
 Thanks for sharing that article! Great read.
  • + 7
 Hey Pinkbike @jamessmurthwaite if you REALLY want to explore this issue, talk to Amanda about republishing this post from her blog on the homepage.
  • + 0
 oh god no....
  • + 5
 That isn't a very good article. It's biased, the economic arguments are cherry-picked and don't apply to DH. Her quote of 11:1 men:women in UCI trade teams reflects the ratio of women to men at DH races - so she just beat herself with her own argument and didn't realise it.

Boys aren't just handed sponsorship and contracts. They do it by training hard and winning races and they do it against fields ten or twenty times bigger than the junior women. To say women need to be handed pro deals in order to prove themselves is an insult to both men and women.

She also fails to recognise that DH is very different to the rest of MTB, where women are doing very well and their representation is higher. DH sales are only a small component of MTB. I've raced DH and XC (and a whole bunch of other disciplines) for thirty years and it is only DH where the ratio between the sexes is so great.

If I owned a MTB company the figures show I would be wasting my money sponsoring a woman. However, on my XC or enduro teams, I'd be an idiot not to have a women or two on each.

I've never heard a highly-successful woman blame the patriarchy - only the wannabes. It's like a poor tradesman blaming his tools.
  • + 1
 she's just crazy... her IG rants are priceless.
  • + 1
 I find it interesting that she is especially throwing Intense under the bus. Over the years Intense is one of the brands that supported female racers more than others. Sabrina Jonnier was for a while their top racer on the team, FMD (Tahnee Seagrave) was from a young age supported by Intense, Nikki Gudex, Vanessa Quinn won Worlds on an Intense and some others that I most likely missed. On the grassroots level Intense supports tons of female racers.

I still see a niche of a big-ish brand to create a "female only" DH race team. That would get quite some coverage in the media and advertise the brand and also female racing. If this brand then gets a lot of coverage, others would follow to not be outdone.
  • + 12
 Just to comment on the introduction up there and not the team stuff.
But that 15 women qualify vs 60 men and 40 broadcasted men vs 10 broadcasted women is pretty close to equal if you do the simple math and compare it to the number of people who are actually competing.
In Leogang last year there were 38 women who finished qualies of which 15 qualified. That's 39%. There were 149 men who finished qualies and 60 of them qualified. That's 40%, so pretty darn close.
And then both in the men and women, 66% of the qualified riders get broadcasted.
  • + 3
 @Frederik24 don't go all percentages on people... they don't want the truth! However, if I were in charge of the UCI, I would require at least 1 female rider per team in order to qualify as a UCI "Team". I would furthermore double the womens' quali and the number televised. If you build it... they will come.
  • + 2
 This is the only "explanation" needed. It's already equal unless you try to pull the "women only make 79 cents on the dollar as men" routine, which is exactly what the intro to this article is trying to do. It's incredibly dishonest and misleading.
  • + 1
 @mattradical: so 30 out of 38 women would qualify... Would everyone get a medal as well?
  • + 2
 Having a ‘token woman’ will not raise standards. You get sponsored if you are good, male or Female.
  • + 1
 lets not make sense here, its not about the facts or math lol
  • + 1
 @jaydawg69: hahahaha
  • + 0
 @mrsmarshy: wow thats a idea and i think is massively sexist hahaha
  • - 1
 @robG413: I'm pretty sure you're trying to make a point about something. Keep trying, I feel like you are nearly there. Pro tip - avoid LOL - it makes you sound like you've just discovered the internet.
  • + 11
 Per capita I would say that less women actually want to ride MTB then men. That translates to being capable of racing too. This translates into male domination and a natural bias.

There may be casual descrimination in the sport on an individual (and team?) level, but more males participate in and are naturally drawn to sports like MTB both in racing and recreation.

Offering encouragement and promoting the inclusion of the women that WANT to ride bikes comes first, then the ones who don’t know it’s even an option may be the next group? In the long term this may make a difference, but men will still carry on with their current trajectory of participation maybe making the results kinda stagnent?

I ride with some shit-hot women who’s attitude is far more pragmatic and infectious that 90% of male riders I meet.
  • + 11
 Let's see a female DH privateer get support for two years like Adam got and see what happens. When she starts killing it maybe it would open the eyes of a lot of companies to take a leap and support more women for a longer term goal.
  • + 3
 My thoughts exactly!
  • + 1
 There are already women on trade teams, with support, and have been for a while, who are still half a mile behind Rachel, Tahnee and Myriam.
  • + 9
 because there are like 4-5 who have any chance of winning 3 if you take away mechanicals and freak occurrences like 2017 world champs . why would any sane team manager use their very limited resources on a rider that they know isn't getting within 30 seconds of the podium.
  • + 0
 But isn't the mere fact they don't have the support of the top 3 riders a detriment to the whole field of riders? The gap between the best women who are sponsored and everyone else will be difficult to bridge.
  • + 3
 @dubod22: Yeah, chicken or the egg problem. Best solution might be to give the women more airtime, so the sponsors get a better ROI. Who cares if the 11-20th woman has no shot at the win, they're still fun to watch.
  • + 1
 Rachel Atherton would kick your ass any day, any place, and has repeatedly put up times that beat most of the men's field.
  • + 1
 @scottzg: Yes! It isn't only the speed that we watch for. It can also be the struggle to win and the action that is derived from pushing a limit at any level. Amateur rally cars crash just as spectacularly as the fastest in the world. I like watching the womens DH because I want to see a current no-name upset the top 5. Eventually a consistent no-name starts to be a consistent podium finisher and then grabs a deal with Transition Bikes or similar.
The most exciting thing about last year's men's series was that AP came along and set everyone on their ear and not the fact that the first five boys in any race were three seconds apart and twenty seconds ahead of 10th place.
  • + 4
 @BaeckerX1: really?
last national i went to watch she would have finished last but 2 in elite men (1 of them crashed out too btw)
or 10 seconds behind the fastest 15 year old.
would have won the 12-13 boys category by 2.5 seconds though.
  • + 13
 *grabs popcorn... here we go...
  • + 1
 Man, I think this one might call for breaking out the kettle corn! Razz
  • + 8
 Am I the only one who thought the Madison guy was zinging Rach a bit with the stuff about top British ladies not racing local races and being sure to soon find out how commercial business works? Big Grin
  • + 1
 Isn't Will Longden involved with the British DH team in some capacity?
I'm sure they know each other.
  • + 1
 @jaame: *Shrug* I have no idea... maybe it was completely sincere and good natured. I just took it in a f7nny way. Smile
  • + 11
 Google: Why there is a WNBA wage gap. Same answers apply.
  • - 1
 This.

Likewise where are all the women F1 drivers? It's purely indicative of the level of chauvinism at the organisational level in a sport.
DH seems to do better than many sports and the future looks bright with Vali and Mathilde and all the other upcoming female riders, not to mention the brilliant riders in the womens elite already. Teams will hopefully realise that adding quality riders to the roster will produce a thrilling championship regardless of gender.

It's pretty sad to see some of the usual comments here about women being slower and less drama cos Rach is so quick. BS in my book, money is an issue and so is the old world order.
  • + 8
 @Steventux:
Couldn't it be that there just aren't that many women who are into racing cars and that's why you don't see anyone making it to the absolute top in F1? If there was a female F1 driver who could compete with the top guys, she would be a PR gold mine for any company. It's very likely that this person just doesn't exist.
  • + 1
 @cvoc: Nope. it's because F1 paddock dinosaurs like Sir Stirling Moss continually asserted that women weren't up to muster www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/motorsport/formulaone/9994262/Stirling-Moss-says-that-women-do-not-have-the-mental-capacity-to-compete-in-Formula-One.html and this type of thinking was pretty much endemic in F1 and perhaps to a lesser extent motorsports as a whole.
I see similar watered down assertions in these comments.
It's just plain prejudice. Own it if you think that way, but don't dress it up with dodgy excuses.
  • + 2
 @Steventux: @cvoc:

You're both right IMO, the attitude filters down and leads to many fewer girls wanting to get involved. F1 is probably the most extreme example, as these days you need to be karting from the age of 7 to be up to scratch.

Encouraging grass routes just leads to a bigger talent pool and improves it all the way through.
  • + 5
 @Steventux: the F1 reference is idiotic, F1 is one of the most physical sports imaginable, there arent women because they physically can't do it.

vali holl is a perfect example to disprove your point, she is one racer and has no real competition in the juniors.
she will move to elite and in the year or two it will take her to get to winning pace rachel will more than likley have retired or started a decline and your back to 3-4 viable racers.
  • - 5
flag Steventux (Mar 8, 2019 at 2:38) (Below Threshold)
 @b45her: "idiotic" is a bit strong dear.
It's a reasonable comparison given F1 is a sport which has failed to promote a top female driver. It's got eff all to do with women not being strong enough that's pure Stirling Moss light, a reckon based on sitting in an armchair. In reality women have tested F1 cars and proven to be in the 'grid window' on the timing. Dana Patrick and Suzi Wolf being good examples.

To state that Val Holi is the only talent in the juniors is a bit limited, Mathilde Bernhard beat Jill Kiltner on the pump track last year, is transitioning from BMX to DH and will likely only improve.
Also Tahnee and others have proved that Rachel isn't head a shoulders apart from the field, they've all had their quick moments in the past season, Rachel very much leading the way but there's a broad field of quality riders there, the limiting factors seem to be that the reduced coverage limits the sponsorship deals available and that's skewed, and the imbalance isn't based on talent.
  • + 3
 @Steventux:
It's a fact that fewer women race, both in cars and on downhill bikes. So you comment that it's 'plain' prejudice is just wrong.
  • - 1
 @cvoc: Facts are usually something you can demonstrate with data rather than a baseless assertion but in this case I think you might be right (I've not got the relevant data available). But could this be because there are fewer female role models in both of the sports in question? This in turn attracts less women to the sport which limits the field.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, I don't think the lack of female participation is the only reason for limited sponsorship,as team bosses and other interviewees here have mentioned, the coverage is one of the governing factors.
I guess it boils down to if you believe women should get an equal shout in opportunity, coverage and therefore sponsorship or whether you believe it's t do with some of the other factors cited in the comments here, i.e. strength, interest, capability.
I know what I believe to be the limiting factors here, other opinions are available.
  • + 2
 @Steventux: your talking nonsense, F1 absolutely limited by physical strength. Pulling out 1 or 2 laps at a speed that would get you on the grid is vastly different to maintaining it for nearly 2 hours in an actual race.
And yes vali holl will be the only girl that is likely to mix it with the fast girls over the next few years. Take the sjw boots off and embrace reality.
  • + 0
 @b45her: Again your language isn't providing the most inviting way to discuss opinions. It's my opinion which I try to base on observations, so to me it's not nonsense. Other opinions are available, and I accept them without calling them idiotic or nonsense, I just don't necessarily agree with them.

For the record, women fly fighter jets in military operations experiencing G-forces greater than those in an F1 car for similar lengths of time. www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/magazine/women-pilots-military.html I'm not sure where your getting your observational data from but I believe women are capable enough to train and gain the strength necessary for F1, DH, combat. I think you probably don't agree, but the evidence is there.
  • + 5
 @Steventux: the article you link to talks of a flight instructor in training aircraft not a fast jet combat pilot.
She wasn't allowed to fly Combat missions, I wonder why????
You can not change biology and physics no matter how much you try to link up tenuous news articles, physical strength is a huge part of sport there is no getting around it. Serena Williams for example is an utterly dominant on the ladies tennis circuit but would rank around 1500th on the mens circuit. Chris cyborg is apoximately the same height and weight as Connor mcgreggor how do you think that fight would go?
I'm not denying that the top 8-10 women dh racers in the world are talented. But outside that small group there is very little competition.
  • - 1
 @b45her: You're quite right it was a poorly researched example

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighter_pilot#Female_fighter_pilots
www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ghACpKirqQ
airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/first-female-fighter-pilot are perhaps better examples.

I'm neither a biology professor nor a sports training expert so part of my beliefs are based on what I observe.
You make some accurate if slightly predictable comparisons between male and female athletes.
I think the original point was more down to the whether the amount of coverage and therefore sponshorship is deservedly less than that of male DH riders. My belief is that it's not deserved given the quality of the womens field.
  • + 5
 @Steventux: the handful of top level women DH riders are sponsored and supported, there is however not enough top tier female riders that can justify spots on professional or even semi pro teams. If you were a team manager would you want to throw your money at a rider that is maybe 30-45 seconds off the pace of the podium, is never likely to get any TV or media coverage because if this? Or a top 30-40 young gun who will often spend a bit of time in the hot seat and get your kit on display for his race run?
You need to check out the amount of kit that gets slung at Instagram mtb girls too, there are literally hundreds of them with sponser lists longer than your arm and most of them cant ride for toffee, perhaps if some of that budget was channeled towards racers there may be a few more spare £££ for the ladies.
  • - 2
 @b45her: So are you saying that there aren't enough quality female riders to warrant the sponsorship (relative to the top female riders)?
And would you say it bears any relation to the perceived gender domain of the sport? ie. more competitive male riders than female?
Would more female role models might promote more female riders and inevitably increase the overall competition? (or quality as we seem to be focussing on this).
Also I think it's often cited by factory riders that the level of support you from the team means you gain the ability to focus on training, diet and ultimately better times. Comparing some sponsorship to full team backing might be relevant.
  • + 1
 @Steventux: yes i am, you have maybe 10 ladies that are reasonably competitive, the rest have almost zero chance of seeing the podium.
in DH you have rachel and tahnee in enduro its cecile ravannel and isabeau cordurier, if they don't crash or have a mechanical thats your top 2, the others are usually out of sight, in the case of DH the gap between the top 3 ladies is often the same as the top 30 or so men.
could a great big field of fully supported well paid pro ladies getting demolished by 30 seconds to a minute by 2-3 truly elite level racers be considered role models?

It won't matter how much support you give the rest of the field, the gulf in talent is too vast. no amount of help is going to make a rider 30 seconds faster down a 3 minute track, pinkbikes privateer series showed that quite recently, yes he got a little faster but not much.
  • + 7
 Women buy less bikes. Ride a trail. The percentage of women on a trail, might equal 15-20% at most. A huge percentage of those numbers are with there boyfriends/husbands that bought there bikes for them. It is solely a numbers game for the companies. You invest where you see a return. An upswing in female riders would equal an upswing in pro. female riders. We are all just a statistic. Is this really an issue?
  • + 8
 This is a fair point. I am not a woman that got into the sport because of a male partner. I'm out shredding with men most of the time. I buy as much gear and am as thirsty for knowledge and skills as they are. Even this whole discussion shows the big disparity, there are very few women participating in this conversation. Hell, there are very few women participating in the women's forum. Men go in there to ask questions for their women. This is a sore spot for me. I get frustrated for women that leave it up to their men to figure things out for them. I rode by myself for months before I started gathering my mtb crew. I had to figure things out on my own or just not ride. I wish more female riders were like me. We're gaining ground, but it's a slow process.
  • + 4
 @PinkFraggle: You sound awesome.
  • + 1
 @scottzg: Awww, shucks. I appreciate the compliment.
  • + 1
 @PinkFraggle: preach! Woman DH racer here... but honestly I lived in Whistler for the last 2 years and there are SO MANY women started to ride and race! It's happening, slowly in a lot of places but I think Whistler is the perfect example of what it will be soon! Pretty rad being with so many fast women. I think it will propagate
  • + 6
 I just read through all the comments and or strikes me that no one mentioned that 3 of the top 4 women came up through the ranks with a male sibling racing. This had meant that they have been able to get more support throughout their career as a package deal. Atherton Hannah and Seagrave. From Jr. Ranks and even before have most likely been able to use the family as a way into support. Dont take this the wrong way they have deserved every little bit of support they got they are amazing athletes. Now they hold the top places in the Female category, this is a great example of how support from an early age can make a huge difference, and I think a huge reason why there should be moe support for women. Finally if it was required to have 1 female on your trade team to be eligible for the team championship then there would be much greater competition in the women's ranking. No one would have to pay women the same as the men. (Though it is 2019 so they really should) just force the teams to give them factory support and we should see a huge increase in the competitiveness of the woman's field.

Just my 2 cents
  • + 1
 This is an EXCELLENT point!!
  • + 6
 I don't find women's WC DH racing to be any less exciting than the men's, other than the limited field of podium contenders. The difference in speed takes nothing away from the spectacle, and the top women put their neck on the line, just like the guys. It's a tiny percentage of non-pro riders who wouldn't get their asses handed to them by Rachel, Tahnee, Myriam or Tracey, so how any real racing fan could fail to find their racing exciting is beyond me.
I think any rider who is pushing for the top should be supported, but I'm not interested in watching anyone who either lacks total commitment or real potential. The idea that a team should commit money to someone they don't believe in is ridiculous and I think forced gender quotas could be damaging in term of reducing the quality of the women's field.
I'd love to see the same level of competition in the women's, but this requires a steady stream of talented and committed females riders coming through the ranks.
Is the issue that there simply aren't as many women who want to race DH? Enduro is a big draw now for people who previously only had a choice between XC or DH. Few people have the guts to race DH (myself included) and to take the high risks involved; look at Manon Carpenter's withdrawal from the sport. There's arguably more money and opportunities available to young women without taking any risk through marketing a lifestyle/Instagram etc (insert your own example.)
If things are going to change, it's going to have to start at a grassroots level. There may only be a handful of top female riders at the moment but they're more than enough to inspire girls into the sport.
Having said that, I've heard Kathy Sessler's argument a couple of times now and it's paper thin. Santa Cruz could easily find and develop a female rider if they wanted to, and with Juliana as a female specific brand to market, I can't understand why they don't. Who doesn't want to see the next Missy Giove race?
  • + 5
 This whole topic boils down to equality. Some people think we, humans, are all equal or at least should be. This is a ridiculous notion. We are not all equal and this should be painfully obvious to all. The only place we should strive for equality is under the law.
  • + 5
 Myriam said it best. The percentages make sense based on the competition. The top 5 women have the same support as the top 15-20 men is what she said. For example, at Fort William last year 132 men entered the qualifying round to race, 60 advanced. In the women's race....23 raced. Just 23. So if you assume Myriam's numbers of top 5 have same support as top 20 men, they still have a better (factory support/total riders) ratio. If you bring in more competition where more than 4 riders have a chance at a podium and the competition is better, the support will come. But right now everyone resigns themselves to assuming that it will either Rach, Tahnee, Myriam or Tracey.
  • + 5
 I tried to get my granddaughter into BMX. She decided she didn't like racing the boys and stopped. Reading so many posts here that give the impression that people don't want downhill to grow as long as they get what they want out of it. I'd like to see the sport grow, and it has a ceiling when we don't make an effort to include women.
  • + 4
 I hope none of you have children/girls that are interested in the sport, because I'm sure you will tell them that they will never be fast enough, strong enough, or well-liked enough to make it in the sport. All those commenting the same demonstrate exactly why young girls and women don't get into the sport to begin with. They are constantly told they'll never be good enough, so why bother.
  • + 4
 Here's my thoughts... Right now, Rachel, Tahnee, Miriam, and Tracey pretty much own the top 4 spots in WC ST. It would take a rider putting in her own effort and getting consistent 5-6 place finishes with times close enough to the top 4 to show potential for the podium spot. And then, she would have to hope someone has room in the budget for a rider...

One thing that we can see is that equal prize money hasn't done much to grow the women's side of the sport.. Why? My thought is that equalizing the payout is trying to build from the top down... That rarely works.. They have to get them started young..

While mountain biking as a whole is seeing more women getting on bikes, not all of them want to be racers... Same with men... A majority of the people who buy bikes will probably never race.
  • + 3
 Number of reasons I would say. If I look at the bottom of it where it all starts as a young person who likes the sport and want to get to the Pro lvl there are way less females. If I look at the local events there are only a few and some don't even have a competition because in their age category is no other they simply now must race against the males who most of the time way faster. The lack of competition will make it harder to force you to get faster way better. No real training pals could also be devastating. If you only train with way faster guys and it is not possible to beat them because of the gender . With way less females then males all around in the sport there can't be equal numbers at the Pro lvl as well. I still don't get it why there is that huge gap between both.
  • + 3
 The world seems concerned about proportional representation so if there are 37 teams with only 21 women (assuming that's one per team) then that's not bad because my experiences don't suggest that 1 in 3 mtbers (especially in downhill) are female. I could be wrong but I'm just going by what I see in terms of commenting on here and on the trails.
Potentially they are over represented in DH? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for equality but not for the sake of it. You can't make people of a particular sex, orientation, religion or culture like something they don't, so the best you can hope for is a reflective % participation? I'm not saying let's not promote it and encourage, but is it that big a deal?
  • + 3
 Right or wrong it’s time for every factory team to support at least one female to collect overall team points. I get that there’s a smaller group of women that can win a World Cup but that’s only because there’s no push from UCI or the bike manufacturers to create female talent at a young age. If a female rider was mandatory then teams would be out there developing more female racers which in turn would improve women’s DH skills, the level of competition will improve which will make the show better.
  • + 1
 And what is your proposal for those who identify as Non Binary?
  • + 3
 Because downhill MTB racing is not an Olympic sport there are no requirements by private trade teams (or countries) to give equal opportunity or representation to women as per IOC mandates and/or national initiatives . If you take a look at women's downhill ski racing they are light years ahead. There is incredible support from former racers, mentors, junior programs, outside industry sponsorship, etc...they build the pool from an early age and there are many mechanisms in place to support the process. The sport of ski racing doesn't rely on the personal perceptions of marketing or team managers of company X to define and decide on the growth of the sport. DH MTB racing has no standard or plan in place to develop female ridership. It's the wild west out there with social opinions that are laughable in 2019 - bike industry marketing and team managers pretending to be sociologists and gender experts on women in sport. Sadly, equality often has to be enforced legally - take a look at the history of pretty much any women's sport from hockey to tennis to cycling to skiing to running marathons.
And the private sector in general...almost every developed country has had to implement government laws to enforce equality in the workplace whether it be women, people of color, etc...they ain't gonna do it on their own as demonstrated by the bike industry.
As far as the money part goes...it's sad that industry trade teams don't have the marketing ability to bring on more non endemic sponsorship that would appeal to fans outside of the industry. (beyond Red Bull and the big green claw)
  • + 2
 Easy, women will be sponsored and rewarded like men whe all the women start watching downhill as men do. This is a business, this is not a hobby... Dh is la the F1.. brands spent tons of money in that teams ( around 1 millión $ per season) so.. its logical to find a reward or at least more sells of bikes...

How many women practise DH? and men?

This is it about numbers... not about another thing... dh is a physical sport.. more mens practise it...

today, been a woman its by far better in "another worlds"... like Fashion for example.. could we talk about it? Come on... the decision are in womens hands... if next year the audience increase a 50% watching women top5... they could be a change... meanwhile... things are this way.
  • + 1
 100% agreed. Brands create factory teams to advertise their brand, not to be nice guys and help give people a leg up against the competition.
Women like Rachel Atherton get sponsored because they are out there, they are known by everyone who follows DH in any capacity.
If a woman creates a following for herself and sells products then she deserves to be sponsored, just like the men.
Sponsorship is a business not a charity case!
  • + 2
 I didn't see it mentioned, maybe I glanced over it, but does this take into account women riders who are sponsored but not racing? I have run into many women at the trail centers who are sponsored for their personality rather than their racing prowess. I think it's sad but obvious why there is a discrepancy in the male to female sponsored racers but how does it balance out when all sponsored riders are factored into the equation?
  • + 2
 There's definitely some truth to this. Why does Cecile Ravanel only have 30.7k followers on Instagram and Hannah Barnes 82.3k - are women as a demographic more interested in lifestyle than competition and are brands simply capitalising on this, or is there an inherent bias in bike marketing that would rather portray men as athletes and women as enthusiasts?
  • + 4
 Yeah go on Instagram and look how many females who can barely ride that are sponsored. Wish I was that good at social media to make up for my poor riding. Shame companies sponsor these riders and not the hundreds of fast females paying lots of money to race.
  • + 5
 @Malky79: I think it's a vicious circle that begins with women still largely being conditioned to think that conforming to the prevailing standard of looks and cuteness matter most, responding more to social media 'athletes' who reinforce that belief, which results in brands thinking that's what women really want, and putting out more content like that, and so on.

Though this galls me, I can't think of a way to shift the emphasis from image/appearance to other qualities like true athleticism and commitment. Very few brands would want to go out on a limb and heavily back a female rider that is very athletically talented but that doesn't fit the cheerleader-on-a-bike image.
  • + 3
 These are the same chickenshit answers companies give when you ask why isn't there more diversity in tech or business or politics or pick your industry. It's a widespread cultural and society problem.
  • + 2
 The more we do this the more we create division and resentment. If you are of the perspective that men and women are deserving of equal opportunity, then have one category of racer that includes all sexes, genders etc. allow the winners to rise to the top whomever they may be. If we want to see more different people reflected in the sport it's what happens to those people when their young that matters, not conversations like this. Support and encourage everyone the same and don't make assumptions based on sex/gender. That said, Testosterone is a hell of a drug...
  • + 2
 Its not about whats happening now, no point saying there is not enough competition or closeness in women racing - in fact thats the whole point, its purely the fact that teams are not willing to invest time and money developing young talent and help with finance and training and everything else, all this would help promote and encourage so for now yes, there does need to be special treatment and support given, to the point where we create an environment where the likes of Santa Cruz can just pick a winner from a sea of female talent , but it needs promoting, it needs root development to help build that base, along the way it will promote mountain biking to women even more. We cant expect there to be a close or stacked field if we dont help to build it first, create the foundations and then let it flourish on its own
  • + 2
 I think many of the 'explanations' in this article for the disparity are simpley short sighted excuses wrapped in BS to justify abdication of their responsibilities as leaders in the sport and industry. Instead of making excuses, say how you are going to deal with the simple fact that less women are sponsored than men and that participation in the sport is male dominated.
  • + 2
 "But I am dismayed that this topic is presented in a polarizing way and that will just perpetuate a perception that woman don't have opportunity. It's been a personal perspective of mine for 30 years that women actually have more opportunity in this sport than men and my personal career has proven this to myself."

Mic drop
  • + 1
 Everybody has to come to an agreement. The UCI needs to allow more female riders in their category, RedBull TV needs to broadcast more then the top 10, and each woman should be paid on par with their male counterparts for how well they place because they are riding the same track. They may not ride as fast but they’re still doing the same thing as the men. Just my 2 cents
  • + 1
 There is so much wrong with this whole thing! As was stated by nearly every interviewee the frame of the question incenustes a lie. As much as everyone likes to paint their favorite riders and teams as these cute families that happen ride a lot together and just don’t like women crashing their bro party... it’s a business. And if you don’t have the resume you don’t get hired. Every single team on WC is there to make money for someone. There are a lot of reasons why women are less marketable in a sport like DH but most of them can be drawn back to the governing bodies (UCI,USAC, or any other cycling government) creating an atmosphere where women are undervalued. Miriam nailed it with her comments about less coverage and points. This makes it MUCH harder for women to have the required marketability even when someone like Rachel Atherton has a far superior resume to even Gwin.


On a different note I would challenge every bike shop in the world worth their wrenches to support women’s riding on the ground level so there will one day be more women at the top!
  • + 2
 If teams had more female riders, redbull bothered to show more female runs and the UCI cared about women in sport then they'd have more exposure. Maybe drawing larger female audiences. Creating a bigger market.
  • + 1
 Its basic math, even the top women in the world have significantly larger time gaps than the men, there is a distinct talent difference, review any top 10 times from any world cup and the spreads are dramatically different. It's not tight racing. Maybe women are just naturally better at self preservation and don't think hurtling themselves down a hill at breakneck speeds is a good idea, doesn't really matter. Slow women don't get race deals because they're non starters from the get go Look at XC womens sponsorships? They get plenty, because its a competitive field.
  • + 1
 Maybe there are less women in WC DH teams but it’s certainly easier for an average female rider to get free stuff than an average man, plenty of examples, just go on Instagram.

What do you want a WC team to do? Bring a very average woman on board to make up numbers? As more women get involved and the women’s field size increases things will even out, it’s not something we need to politicise and force though.
  • + 1
 Most national or international DH Races - Male competitors up to or over 100, female competitors 10 - 30 or so at best. And the gaps between the men are REAL close. With the women the first 5 to 10 are quite close and then there are in part HUGE gaps.
  • + 1
 Ream Tumors 2020. FMD/Juliana/Mazda/Muc-Off!!

Jokes. Companies need to stop with the whole "social media" BS. Tennis tried this years ago with Anna Kornikova. How did that work out? "Retired" early and vanished into the ether. Who wants to see a rider on a factory ride barely qualify for a WC? Give me a privateer that sticks it to the big gums week in, week out and give that rider Jenny Sugartits' ride for the following year (same goes for the mens with Johnny Bigschlong's ride).
  • + 1
 @Kathy Sessler - Team Manager, Santa Cruz Syndicate

She said it very well. When women want to ride and represent the cream will rise to the top and if there's a market for thier talents, people will pay. That's the way free money to play sports works.
  • + 1
 So there's this argument (as every year) that there's less support because women's participation in mtb in general is lower (thus smaller market, depth of field etc. etc.). As this is PB, I bet lots of people have opinions on why that participation is lower in the first place. Discuss.
  • + 0
 I feel like it's pretty simple. If am off base here, please let me know. But let's just imagine that you could take a poll from every single woman in the world and every single man by asking " If you could close you eyes and instantly become excellent at whatever sport you've ever wanted, what would it be?". What do you think the numbers would look like between men and women who picked Mountain Biking (of any discipline). Would you disagree that men would have higher numbers than women here?

So if you own a company and a higher percentage of your market is male, who do you choose to sponsor? If we're talking about sponsorship, we're talking about numbers. It's a business decision. It really doesn't get much more black and white than that.

That being said, whose job is it to change this? Should companies start forking over free gear, bikes and money to more female riders when their marketing analyst can't justify the return on investment? Or do we need to see more women devoting themselves to the sport? Having just as many women show up to events as men? Seeing just as many women enter a race as men? Should we see an equal number of sales in the cycling industry come from women? Chicken or the egg?

Hot topic: Should races award the same prize money for men's and women's categories when 3 times more men paid entry fees than women?
  • + 2
 Since we're all riders, let's take note of how many women we see on trails vs men. Even on easy trails there's only about 1 woman for every 10 men.
  • + 3
 $. Its not like there is a shortage of good female riders that could use help.
  • + 4
 Happy women's day and I'm staying out of this one
  • + 4
 It would have been interesting to have RedBull TV opinion on women racing
  • + 2
 in my team you will find two nice womens and it was a really good decision. the girls work perfectly together and the spirit in my team is fenomenal...
  • + 0
 How many blokes want to be shit hot DH riders? How many female riders want the same? If participation rates in DH were equal for males and females at the community racing level then you have a serious case for an argument as to participation and sponsorship at the WC level...but if they aren't (bear in mind I'm not a DH rider) then all of this hand wringing is for bought.

The primary issue is that at no time should us blokes ever EVER in any way hinder anyone regardless of gender, age or sexyal orientation for giving DH or any other type of cycling a red hot go to their hearts content...or I reserve the right to come over there and kick you in the nuts.
  • + 3
 the writer must be trying to get a job a BBC or CNN or something
  • + 3
 THANK YOU KATHY SESSLER FOR MANSPLAINING THIS.
  • + 1
 Old and wise enough to know that anything I type will be taken out of context. Happy Friday, and Happy International Wome's day!
  • + 4
 And it's started...
  • + 2
 They might not be interested in it. I only knew 1 girl that like biking and someone killed her on the trail.
  • + 4
 Maybe you need to extend your social circle?
  • + 5
 I'm trying SO hard to stay out these comments but just wanted to share:

Where I live, over 40% of our trail association membership is female, and over half of the board of directors are women

So um, maybe you just live in an area that isn't doing enough to get women out onto your local trails... because I've met women and am a woman and know that we are interested in having fun in the forest, who the eff wouldn't be???
  • + 1
 Ohhh I just checked your profile and it says you live in Toronto, any women who love biking probably have moved away by now, lol

At very least, (not trying to offend you), but maybe the personal anecdote of one dude living in Toronto isn't really that relevant or credible in a convo about the community of women in biking, as a whole?
  • + 5
 @lalalalaura: We are out there! Nice to see another women jumping in on this. Our female community is pretty solid here in Bellingham. Maybe you and I just fortunate to live where we do?
  • + 3
 It has begun
  • + 1
 Burning Question: why do we use the phrase lady ridden when it comes to selling a bike?
  • + 2
 Because we weigh less dimwit
  • + 1
 I can't wait to see what happens when transgender men start racing in woman DH lets see what woman say then lol
  • + 1
 I bet the amount of sponsored women/men is in proportion to the amount of $$$ that women/men spend on mtn. bikes.
  • + 2
 Batty left Pinkbike, that pretty much sums it up!
  • + 1
 just one of life's great mysteries...its like asking how to encourage more women to like the three stooges.
  • + 1
 Some chick won $5k for the high jump competition at big bear mountain for winning... she was the only entry
  • + 1
 Go to your privacy settings, its in there Wink
  • + 0
 What I really want to know is why there isn't Male Synchronized Swimming in the Olympics.
  • + 1
 Useless article. We all know the answer to the question.
  • - 1
 If you got something burning down there, you might wanna go see a doctor! DH is a Gravity sport, requires high level athletes, not many qualified women, unfortunately!
  • - 1
 Kathy Sessler, kudos. Risky opinion in this day and age. But oh so sensible.
  • + 0
 Good to know Myriam Nicole has her head on straight.
  • + 1
 Drink Water.
  • - 2
 You want equality for women...Well they dont ride as equally crazy as men so...
  • - 1
 Le Sexisme.
  • - 1
 Because there women.
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