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So here's the deal: after my first fabulous season of racing I realized that if i wanted to race singlespeed in the future -- and I definitely do -- it would be great to encourage more women to race SS along with me. Right now the SS classes at short-track and 'cross races in Portland consist of about five women and, oh, three zillion men. But what if women were scored separately for racing singlespeed? And what if we made a singlspeed-ONLY heat (which, in Oregon, would mean moving Mens' B's -- on multi-geared bikes -- to another time slot in the day) so that SS racers wouldn't have to worry about getting hung up behind someone fumbling a shift?

So I've begun talking up creating a womens' SS sub-category and collecting names of women who've indicated that, if they could be given credit for it, they WOULD sign up to race singlespeed. As of today I have nearly 50 women on that list. I am hoping to schedule meetings with the organizers of the respective short-track xc and cyclocross series soon to discuss how this might happen.

Informal poll time:

a. How many women on this social network would race singlespeed if a separate womens' classification was added to singlespeed racing?

b. Ladies: If you normally race singlespeed within a larger all-women category, would you be willing to race in a SS-ONLY class with the men (if given credit for being a woman on a SS bike)? Or would you prefer to be scored as women SS'ers within the larger all-womens' race?

c. Fellas: How many of you would: (1) welcome an ALL-SS race where women are simply scored in their own sub-class; and (2) would actively help to promote more SS racing among your women friends?

Please discuss.
All [constructive!] answers will be VERY helpful as I prepare my discussions with race organizers here in PDX. Thanks very much.

Views: 57

Replies to This Discussion

I have raced singlespeed for three yrs (4 yrs total) First... I would NEVER race SS with the men @ a cross crusade race with the fields as large as they are. I ALWAYS RACE MASTERS if the promoters offer it. I would never race in a SS CLASS over a womenls Mstrs category.

you just started racing....everyone sucks the first couple of years racing. I never think that SS is a handicap. Learn how to spin fast_ bikehandling when your out of sadle b/c you have to grind up a hill_ etc. Racing fast on a SS cx bike takes a lot of skill & experience_ & fitness. My only race in PDX was at PIR.... & having a SS was an advantage not a hinderance. I finished 4th_ after doing state champioships the day b/f & two of the women I raced agaunst didn't race the day b/f. They all have gears & are fast.... If I wasn't a mastr_ I would be ok & would race in a separate division, but personally I think PDXis the only place in OR that could support a women's Ss class.
I agree that only in Portland could anyone even consider such a step. The fields here are huge and growing all the time.

I raced as a beginner last year -- on a singlespeed bike because that's what felt right -- and while I don't know how long I'll race (age and medical issues) I DO know that there has been a LOT of interest in getting more women to try singlespeed. I am among the minority who wouldn't mind racing with the guys in a SS-ONLY race (even though I'm slow). Most women I've polled locally would prefer to race with the other women in a womens' singlespeed class.

That said, I've just received a cautionary note from one of the OBRA officials, gently explaining why adding this category would be hard -- and it has to do with numbers. If you raced at PIR you know how big the crowds can be. I will tell you that there were 92 Beginner Women at this year's Alpenrose race (first Crusade of the season), and at the Washington Co. Fairgrounds race in late October we had so many Beginner Women that they had to begin a new number series for them because they ran out of numbers! So the size of the field is both encouraging and killing the idea at the outset.

I have been told that there is no rule requiring me to "cat up" from Beginners because of my age, but there is a strong social convention here that expects me NOT to race as a Beginner a second year in a row. The Master 45's here are SO fast and aggressive that I would be a fish out of water racing them on my Singlespeed bike. Since I can only afford one race bike, I remain committed to Singlespeed because it still feels more right than a geared bike (I rode BMX as a kid) -- and at least a dozen guys who race that category have told me they'd welcome more women among their ranks, no matter HOW slow or fast they are. So I catted up to SS. We'll see what happens.

On a positive note, the Short-Track race organizer is totally interested in adding a Womens' sub-class to the Singlespeed race...
UPDATE: Portland Short-track XC has added a separate Womens' Singlespeed category for 2010.
Sign up at:
-- and be sure to thank the promoter for adding the category!
I hope it will provide good momentum to get the same category added to Cross Crusade this fall.
Happy riding!
UPDATE: The PIR Short-track xc series is more than half over. We (in the new womens' singlespeed category) are racing with Mens' Singlespeed, Cat II 45+ men and women. The Mens' Singlespeed, with an average of 40-50 entrants each week, gets to go first and they have a holeshot contest. Masters' men go next, and then all of the women in both classes are started together. This was the default majority wish of the womens' singlespeeders the first week and has become standard practice; most women who want to ride singlespeed don't want to start with the men.

The new Womens' SS category began wit three riders the first week and as of this week had grown to 9. If we can see a dozen or more women racing in the final week of the series I'll be happy.

Meanwhile, I've re-started the conversation with the organizers of Cross Crusade to inquire about starting a womens' Singlespeed category there. The response was polite but lukewarm. Because Cross Crusade start fields are three to five times the size of the fields at short-track, adding another category might just be too difficult. plus, they have nowhere to put the Mens' B's, who normally race with Mens' Singlespeed and whose fields are also pretty large. It doesn't look as hopeful for 'cross as for short-track but I'm not ready to accept anything until I hear a final word from both the race organizer and OBRA officials. Stay tuned.


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