A cycling Dad introduced us. He was a stranger sitting at the table across from me at a presentation dinner. “This is Kerry. She is Sarah’s Mum. You know Sarah; she is currently winning the JW15 section of the tour,” he said, with a friendly smile. The occasion was the Santos Junior Tour, the site was a vineyard in the heart of the Barossa Valley. The kids had raced their hearts out, the scenery was superb, the weather spectacular; and then, the stranger replied.
“Oh,” he said, looking me in the eye. “I take no notice of girls’ racing.”
I wanted to slap some sense into him but my manners prevailed. I mustered up a small, cold, wooden smile and I dwelt upon his insult.
My daughter had already been racing for a number of years and we had both been exposed to the vagaries of a sport that appeared to favour both boys and their Dads.
There was the fairly innocuous: “Look at that thing go!” Admiration of sorts, but placing the word ‘girl’ in the sentence was never going to happen.
To the less innocuous: “You are slower than my Grandma” comment, made at the start line of a J13 event. (In this race, the girls’ race, which started behind the boys’ race, became intertwined, with my daughter taking out second overall and the grandma commenting boy coming home eighth overall.)
I have seen my daughter race against girls one week, with hardly an outside comment, and then, in the very same week, race against boys, where the whole stadium has gone quiet, and gasped and roared as she took on the opposing male team and won. (J13 team sprint!) It is the same rider folks, no faster, no slower; why does different opposition command such a different level of respect?
These racing girls get up early. Maybe it is a quick session at the gym or an early morning ride. Maybe it is doing the homework that did not happen the night before due to training commitments. Then it’s off to school, homework during lunch hour and more training and homework after school.
Okay, I understand, the boys do it too! But racing boys are respected; nobody sits across the table and insults their child or parent! It is not okay.
This site is all about respect. Respect for girls, their love of cycling, their commitment and dedication. They are the true podium girls, and I am privileged to share their stories.