Engine11 team ride. Took the train to Santa Barbara and rode the 110 miles back to LA.
Hi, my name is Asia Morris. I've been cycling competitively for a few months and I've been cycling for fun for 4 years. I hope this blog will inspire other women to hop on the bike as well as ignite both good vibes and heated discussions about anything to do with riding. Read on and ride safe!
Engine11 team ride. Took the train to Santa Barbara and rode the 110 miles back to LA.
Public Safety Crit on Memorial Day. Ladies Cat 3/4. My 2nd crit. 8th overall and 1st for Cat 4. I wonder if that counts for something…
My first legitimate track race happened to be in Incheon, South Korea. I lost by about half a wheel but learned a valuable lesson about strategy in the Keirin. I started learning how to ride in a velodrome about a month before I raced at King of Track in April. Thanks to the wonderful instructor at Encino Velodrome, my more experienced boyfriend, and all the newbs that suffered with me during our weekly beginning track sessions, I was able to (somewhat) comfortably ride on this steeper track in Korea. It was nerve racking, but so exhilarating!
R.I.P. CHRIS CONO
I am devastated to report that a great rider, racer, organizer and friend passed away yesterday from following a crash during the CBR Public Safety Memorial Day Criterium. Chrisopher “Cono” Contreras was a hugely energetic and motivated person who believed that bike racing should be enjoyed by everyone. He created and organized a popular fixed gear stage race called Fortune 700 which took place seasonally at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. On Wednesday nights, I had the pleasure of training with him many times at Encino Velodrome. He was always great company, enjoyed riding his heart out and loved to introduce others to his passion for bike racing. Chris is survived by his wife and son. He will be hugely missed by his family, friends, fellow riders and Southern California’s cycling culture.
I can’t believe this happened. I raced at this CBR Criterium on Monday. We heard there was a crash, but there’s always a crash. We heard it was pretty bad, that he had hit the curb and smashed into a phone pole, but you still just assume the injured will be alright. You never think about death as a possibility. We saw the flashing lights and the ambulance, we saw the race organizers scrambling for his paperwork, but still couldn’t fathom that the incident would end in him passing. We are so fragile, yet we tempt the odds to prove ourselves, to push ourselves. I thought about every crash I’d ever been in and/or witnessed and how delicate and vulnerable our bodies are, and how amazing it is that deaths are this infrequent. It’s a reminder that when you’re racing, every little move you make, every little wobble and every little misstep involves the lives of the 30 or more cyclists around you. Even though I didn’t know you, Chris, thank you for reminding me how precious my life is and how important my loved ones are (as cliche as that may sound). I hope we can take this as a lesson to be both daring and careful at the same time.
I like Peter Sagan. He’s young, he’s an athlete, he’s ballsy, and kind of a dork. He seems to have that charismatic personality that the cameras and cycling fans love. His wacky, winning celebrations help lighten up the tensions between all the fiery egos out there. He’s a bit of a show off and rightly so, looking at his consistent wins and podium placements, but when he lost to Cancellara in the Tour of Flanders, he showed us all just how idiotic he could be.
I was hardly surprised, but still sourly disappointed as I watched my Facebook news feed fill up with share after share of the photo of Sagan pinching Maja Leye’s behind. Each post was captioned with simple phrases like “Sagan is the man!” or “This is hilarious,” all written light heartedly by several male acquaintances I have in the Los Angeles cycling community. These are young men that are around the same age as Sagan, some older, some younger, trying to do well on the track, trying to do their best in road racing, who all look up to this 23 year-old in one way or another. It’s not Sagan’s fault that they’re just as thoughtless, but it is his example they’re following as they condone sexual harassment at the highest level of professional cycling.
I hope he doesn’t see the controversy over pinching Maja Leye’s “bum” as a method for gaining more attention in the future. While it’s not a far stretch to assume Sagan is unaware of the inequalities facing female cyclists and professional female cyclists, this little cry for attention could not have come at a worse time. When women’s cycling is struggling, flapping around and swimming upstream, for even the smallest bit of recognition and respect. Olympic cyclist Nicole Cooke gave her retirement speech in January which you can read here http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/jan/14/nicole-cooke-retirement-statement, as an example of just how slanted the scale is. Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian states plainly the inequalities facing even a top athlete like Cooke:
"Cooke, 29, has won everything there is to win in her career – the women’s Tour de France twice, the Italian equivalent, the world championship, Olympic gold. She was the first woman to dominate both long-distance tours and day races. While Armstrong is still worth an estimated $100m, Cooke leaves with little more than her pride and a pile of prestigious jerseys. In the months leading up to last year’s Olympics she wasn’t even paid her wage by her cycling team."
Yes, Sagan apologized, but the way in which he did was so deadening and lackluster, it was like watching a child, forced by its mother, to apologize to the girl next door for throwing a water balloon at her face. He was distracted, a sad puppy dog putting on a performance to avoid the ridicule of his angered owner. You can watch the video here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKP51kafmlk. Perhaps it’s the language barrier, but it did not seem genuine. “Naughty” Sagan shows all his male supporters, the boys and young men that look up to his incredible athleticism, that it is okay be actively sexist by harassing the race host, and that the only consequences for their actions will be recording a droll, somewhat apologetic video and “writing” a short-lived apology tweet.
Despite the lack of genuine remorse, Sagan’s idiocy may have started an even more important conversation with even larger implications. Gregory Colby (@grolby), a professed “cyclist, free thinker, and aspiring opinionator” from Nashville, TN tweeted in response to the incident, “The podium girl tradition, however, is one of many cultural messages that tell Sagan and other men that they ARE entitled to women’s bodies.”
What’s even more of a shock, besides the blatant sexism of this tradition, is the hostesses are often top cyclists themselves. In major events like The Tour of Britain and the Tour de France, Hattenstone writes, “the only way women can participate is through capitalizing on their looks and handing out awards.” Should this tradition be banned? I think so. I think that women should not be seen as bodily prizes rewarding men for their athletic accomplishments. Female cyclists don’t have men rewarding them for their accomplishments or kissing their cheeks on the podium. Such an imbalance sends a message, especially to the less thoughtful cyclists like Sagan, that it’s okay to grope the female body without her consent. For example, when he signed a female fan’s upper breast, an action that was clearly uninvited and a huge violation of privacy, he received praise, instead of scorn, by an Italian reporter attempting to interview him. You can watch the video here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUWakT8eu7I. These kinds of instances should not go unpunished, as he has been encouraged by other misogynists to continue taking what has never been his. These moments could all be opportunities to change our attitude towards harassment and how the male cycling culture views women. We just need to get big shots like Sagan to start thinking.
With that being said, here is my direct letter to you, Mr. Sagan.
Please realize that in this moment, you have a small window of opportunity to redefine yourself as a gentleman respectful of women’s rights, a thoughtful, distinguished, considerate athlete with a basic knowledge of how well you are taken care of as a male professional cyclist. I would encourage you to please refrain from performing acts of sexist stupidity for the entertainment of your quickly growing fan base. Instead, you could start treating women with the respect they deserve and in doing so, regain the respect of the many fans you have lost. You have become a detriment to female cyclists and their accomplishments in the sport as well as women in general. You are a leading man in the spotlight and you have chosen to disgrace yourself and others by abusing your fame. I can’t possibly watch you win another stage without thinking about how young and undeserving you really are. Please, please, please prove me wrong. Keep your goofy sense of humor and your ability to make people laugh, keep whip skidding in front of the cameras, keep impressing us with your astounding athleticism and dedication, but please, please don’t make it okay for a future generation of twenty something year-old cyclists to treat women so thoughtlessly and disrespectfully for the sake of a chuckle.
Hi, my name is Asia Morris. I’ve been cycling competitively for a few months and I’ve been cycling for fun for 4 years. The more I race, the more invested and opinionated I become about the sport and the more I realize I want to share my qualms and accomplishments with other cyclists and enthusiasts. I hope this blog will inspire other women to hop on the bike as well as ignite both good vibes and heated discussions about anything to do with riding. Read on and ride safe!