All of this talk because BOOBS

There are a number of people complaining that the women’s World Championship road race this past Saturday was not sufficiently exciting to watch. I’m sorry; did you confuse the race with your Netflix queue? The race happened the way it did because that is how the race happened. The racers shouldn’t have to implement tactics to make it more “interesting” to watch. I find baseball to be excruciatingly dull, but I am not going to say the the pitcher should be required to juggle and sing while also doing his job just so I am entertained. That is why Gossip Girl is streamed online.

Somehow this conversation – like every other that relates to women in cycling – has circled back into the dialogue about equality in our sport. Equality is good. I don’t believe a professional male racer is better or worth more than me simply because he’s a dude. Frankly, his parts look weirder than mine and I probably smell better. But I am pragmatic and outside of my cycling career, I work in business, an industry where nothing happens “on principle” or just because it’s right. Business is impersonal, fiscally-motivated, and controlled by economic logic. Because that’s the mindset in which I operate so much of the time, it is also the basis on which I form my opinions on the current conversation about women’s cycling.

Here is what I believe. Women racers are equal to men racers. Not better, not worse, not any more or less interesting to watch or support. Women racers are more interesting to me because [a] I am one, so they are my peers (hahaha Marianne Vos is my peer, lemme just marinate in that fantasy for a sec), and [b] economic and life factors have led a majority of women racers to be highly educated and have fascinating careers outside of cycling. Lawyers, scientists, doctors, PhD students, etc. It adds depth to these racers that I find compelling.

I also believe that women’s teams should not have salary minimums. Yes, there are men’s teams that do and it’s unfortunate that our sport and the surrounding industry isn’t such that women’s teams are equal. But if you enforce salary minimums, then what happens to the teams that can’t afford to meet them? They go away. The last thing professional women need is fewer teams.

I believe the same thing about race prize purses. If an event offers equal payout, then that event is AWESOME and I want to support and praise it. But if an event can’t (and, as the treasurer of a cycling club that puts on races, I do know that sometimes there simply isn’t the money), I don’t want the event to disappear entirely. I’d still like a chance to race, and for other people to have that chance as well. I don’t want to punish other racers – pro or amateur – just because it’s not a fair situation. I’d rather show up and speak up and ask for better in the future. It is so wonderful that the NCC races in 2015 are required to have equal prize purses for men and women, but I’m also afraid that the calendar will lose some beloved events that couldn’t afford to pay out that money. I want equality, but I also want racers and spectators all over the country to have opportunities to be engaged in our sport, and losing events works against that.

My underlying feeling is that there must be economic drivers for everything. It is not enough to just ask for financial equality, because that doesn’t answer the question of where to get that money. I don’t want teams and events to disappear because we legislated monetary requirements that they can’t meet. I think the conversation should be about how to enhance and display the value of women’s cycling to both the industry and the world so that the price tag represents something tangible. We have the supply; now we need to show why there should be demand.

That doesn’t mean the women should throw away their races in pursuit of putting on a show. I think it means creating race events and courses that are interesting to spectators. Finding ways to engage the audience and showcase the athletes to give fans somebody to cheer on. Convincing our governing bodies within the sport that they must see women as equal to men. At a personal level, racers should work to engage people and sponsors outside of cycling. Create fans, don’t wait for them to come to us. Calling for equality is a start, but developing a sound, fiscally-logical approach for reaching it is the only next step that will actually work.

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The care and feeding of feelings

So here’s the thing about this past season. I want to put it behind me and focus on the great things that lie ahead (new team! more racing! the holidays! turning 30! GAHH), but to be honest, I’m struggling to let go of residual feelings that have been festering for months. Anger, disgust, and disappointment to name a few.

When I have a lot of feelings, I try to do normal things to manage them like cry, lash out at my loved ones, or eat all of the food in the house. But sometimes that’s not a sufficient release, and I have to resort to more drastic measures. I tried coloring my hair red in May using a $6 box of dye from Target because that sort of thing never ends badly. It was dramatically bright at first and got lots of,”WOW, you dyed your hair…” remarks with a notable lack of “…and I love it!” follow-up. It also bled red dye onto everything for a week, before eventually fading into a borderline respectable color that had sweet old ladies clucking over how my orange-haired husband and I looked alike. Um, thanks.

2014 Redhead Lindsay

Still filled with angst, I started obsessing over getting a new tattoo. I have a bunch already and all of them can be tied to some pivotal moment of crises – a serious injury, separation from a spouse, the realization that I was not good at law school. I became convinced at some point in July that I’d find inner peace as soon as I committed to new ink.

And that is the story of how I came to have a large bird on the back of my neck.

I already had a small, faded tattoo there and loved this neat bird design I found, so it seemed like a great idea to cover the old work with something new. The tattoo artist, however, had a different actualization of the design than I’d expected, and I nearly fell over dead from shock when he handed me a mirror to see the finished work. But what do you say at that point…”No, let’s try again”? UNDO! UNDO! My father was standing there watching (because cool kids bring a parent to hang out during tattoo appointments) and I felt like the only acceptable response was elation. Hooray ugly bird!

2014 Bird

So then I had feelings about stuff going on in my life and the bird. People were like, “Hey! I want to see the new tattoo!” And I’d think, “SHIT. THE BIRD.” Now I laugh at the whole thing, because I usually don’t even remember that it’s back there and when I do, it’s kind of funny to think I got so pissed off at this jackass in my life that I put a bird on the back of my neck forever. I SURE SHOWED HIM.

One might say I gave him the bird.

Anyway, my hair is tinted copper and I’m stuck with bird this now, but also still quite a few feelings. Rearranging my furniture, giving away my belongings to charity, saying mean things to small children; nothing seems to be helping me let go. It seems unhealthy to carry around this resentment, but I don’t know how to put it down and walk away. The best I’ve managed is to channel it into more positive pursuits, like training and resting harder. Things are good now. I’m happy. It’s going to be a damn good 2015.

Posted on in Cycling, Life 4 Comments

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

This past weekend was the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup in Boston and the official end of my racing season. Normally at this point I’d do a recap of the year, but I’m not interested in looking backwards. The first half of the season was a disaster; I struggled badly on and off the bike and considered quitting racing entirely. I never want to feel that way again.

After the Intelligentsia Cup races, I asked for permission from Colavita to race independently for the remainder of the season. It was a sad moment but also a huge relief, like taking a 300-pound crap. I raced the Chris Thater Crits on my own and was overwhelmed by the warmth and support from the rest of the women’s peloton. Fearless Femme’s director Arounkone Sananikone asked me to guest ride for their team the next weekend at Gateway Cup, and after Gateway they asked me to stay on for the remainder of the season’s races.

It was the best thing that could have happened. These last four weeks of road trips and races have been some of the best I’ve ever had. This team races because they love it and it makes them happy, not just because it’s their job or they don’t know what the hell else to do. Arounkone wants his team to win, of course, but it’s more important to ride boldly, give 110%, and enjoy the wild ride. That attitude brings out the best in the riders. It brought out the best in me. I wanted to be fearless for the team, to take chances and fight for the win, to be happy with excellent performance even if it wasn’t a 1st place, and to graciously celebrate our competitors’ successes.

Saturday’s race was perfect. Tina and I worked together so well and I loved telling her to get the hell out of the wind and rest while I did my job of covering things. I even got some time off the front collecting primes before pulling the plug to play more defense. It was a blast; I couldn’t stop smiling even when it hurt. At the end, Tina launched an awesome sprint to finish 2nd. Sure, we didn’t win, but I can still feel the joy of that moment because 2nd was damn good against a lot of excellent sprinters. As we stood at the finish line after the race, Arounkone leaned over the barriers to hug me and say with absolute sincerity, “Thank you.” I’ve never felt happier to be part of a team. Fearless Femme isn’t just a name, it’s a philosophy that I don’t want to ever forget. Don’t be afraid to seize the moment, to go big, to walk away from something that doesn’t feel right with confidence that everything will be okay.

I learned so much this year. How to race my bike and how not to race my bike. Who to keep in my life and who to keep out. What’s worth it and what isn’t. I learned how to be fearless and how to kick ass, lose gracefully, and always finish happy and wanting more. To the people who helped me along the way – my husband and tireless mechanic, my endlessly supportive parents, my coach Sue Hefler for saving me during my mid-season downward spiral, Arounkone for urging me to light it up and enjoy the fireworks, my forever teammates Whitney Schultz and Olivia Dillon for their strength and support, Tom Steinbacher from Stradalli for making certain I was still equipped to ride, and to my dear friends in the cycling community – thank you. I have never been so grateful for this support system and never felt so excited to come back and race again in 2015. Let’s tear some shit up!

2014 FF at Finish2014 FF with Car
Fearless Femme Stradalli Lindsay BayerIMG_2306
Working the FrontIMG_2297
2014 Tina Pic Lindsay Bayer
Grouplove
2014 Boston Us
2014 Boston Podium 2014 Boston Teamwork

Posted on in Cycling, Family, Friends, Life, Travel 2 Comments

Orange is the New Black: Gateway Cup Edition

Four weekends ago, I raced the four Gateway Cup crits in St. Louis, MO. Three weekends ago, I raced the Criterium National Championships in High Point, SC. Last weekend, I raced the Thompson Doylestown Criterium in Doylestown, PA. This weekend, I’m in Boston for the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup Criterium. It’s been a lot of time in the car (because why fly when you can drive and hit every Wendy’s along the way) but I have used approximately none of that time to catch up on race reports. And so now here we are, four weeks past Gateway Cup and I’m just getting caught up. And really, even that’s a lie, because I’m only posting a bunch of photos. If you want to read about the actual races, allow me to suggest a visit to CyclingNews.com, your #1 source for extremely light and intermittently factual coverage of women’s cycling.

So, brief backstory: After racing unattached at the Chris Thater Crits, Fearless Femme asked me to guest ride with them at the four Gateway Cup crits. I happily accepted, not least of all because they have the greatest bright orange Vie13 kits on the planet. Our squad for the races consisted of Tina Pic, Erin Silliman, Christina Birch, Morgan Patton, and me, and together the five of us had a great time riding together in rectangles. Tina ended up with some great sprint finishes and I ended up eating everything in St. Louis.

Andrew Driving Badly

Andrew did not seem to realize that he was driving a 2006 Madza 3 hatchback (sportiness rating = -3), and insisted on nearly drifting sideways it through curvy mountain roads while saying, “Wheeeeeeee!”

Meal on Wheels

Rolling through the McD’s drive-thu for a very late-night dinner after the first race while rocking my new Vie13 kit. I was waiting at a traffic light on the way back to the host house after picking up dinner, and a thug tried to hug me. Evidently he was very excited to see a cyclist out at 11pm. I said no.

Fearless Femme

Fearless Femme working together at the Giro della Montagna.

Fearless Femme Tina Pic Lindsay Bayer

Getting set up to lead Tina out for another fast finish.

Good Hair Day

Continuing to wear my Shimano hat everywhere, all the time. We had to take a moment to reflect on how nuts my hair was looking after six hours of driving with the windows open.

Andrew is Cranky

We had a nine-hour trip from Louisville to home, and I suggested that we do a recovery spin at some point along the drive as a nice break. That break came along a highway in West Virginia, a highway that was lovely and scenic and perfect…and apparently far busier than Andrew thought was safe. He grumbled behind me the entire time until I surrendered and went back to the car.

Victory

Once I agreed to stop riding on the highway, we ended up doing laps of the park where we’d left the car. Each lap took exactly one minute, which meant my brain was leaking out of my ear with boredom almost immediately. On the final lap, Andrew sprinted for the win and was very excited.

WV BBQ Dinner

I found a roadside BBQ place that had five stars on Yelp, so we went there for dinner and I ordered all of the meat.

Salad Hold the Dressing and Cheese

This is what you get when you are in rural West Virginia and order a salad with no dressing or cheese.

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Life, Travel 1 Comment

A handy primer on critical issues in cycling today

Cycling is a small world filled with heaps of exciting news, gossip, and drama. Somebody doped! Somebody has a motor in their bike! A guy over in Europe went from one team where he was paid a lot to another team where he’ll be paid a lot! New products were released that will make you totally faster right after you pay a lot of money to replace those now-worthless parts you just bought! Hooray bicycles!

Lately it seems we’re overly preoccupied with a few key issues. I’d like to address them once and for all so we can get back to focusing on the more important things, like disc brakes versus dying of obsolescence.

CrossVegas Beergate!
Issue: Rowdy spectators sprayed beer and threw beer cans at riders during the race.
Debate: Who were the naughty spectators? Who should have intervened? What is reasonable spectator/racer behavior? Why do people drink PBR anyway?
Suggested Resolution: Have better taste in beer. If you have arm tattoos and want to behave badly, wear sleeves. Spectators and racers should stay on their respective sides of the course barriers.

Bottlegate!
Issue: Feeding was initiated from the pits during Crit Nationals despite originally being forbidden.
Debate: Should feeding be allowed from the pits? Should the team with the biggest bus get to make and/or break the rules? Should women wear high heels in the pit?
Suggested Resolution: No to all of the above.

Kitgate!
Issue: The Colombian women’s team DRD-Bogotá Humana-San Mateo-Solgar was photographed at a team presentation wearing kits that seemed to include fabric windows to their womanly regions. Oops.
Debate: Who designed the kits? Are they horribly and punishably inappropriate? Should the authorities intervene? Was it just bad lighting? Are female cyclists underpaid and under-appreciated [author's note: dude, duh]? Should this single photograph become a talking point for days? WHERE IS THE LINE BETWEEN NUDE AND GOLD?!?!?!
Suggested Resolution: For the sake of those poor riders, enough already. Go worry about something – anything – more important. Like ISIS or Ebola or how everybody is too obsessed with pumpkin spice flavored everything.

Misappropriation of the term “-gate”!
Issue: See previous three issues. I love portmanteaus as much as the next gal, but this is tacky and overused.
Debate: There isn’t one.
Suggested Resolution: Stop.

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