British Cycling are running a campaign at the moment with the NSPCC about the role that parents play when kids participate in sport. That got me thinking about the need for support as adults too.
One of the interesting things about turning up at a women’s bike race is the number of helpers that are there too. Or rather lack of. I don’t know why that is, and I’m certainly not going to go into the psychological reasons behind it. Instead, I’m going to throw this concept out there: blokes, you can watch your girlfriend/wife/mate at a bike race and you can help out too!
It seems that many women enter the sport of cycling, only to disappear the following year. That is something as a sport we need to look at. I’m certain though that one of the main reasons we lose many women is because they seem to try and do everything on their own. It’s okay to admit that you need some assistance – unless you’re well-practised with the pre-race drill (which you only get after many years’ experience), it’s a complete nightmare trying to remember everything for race day.
This is where your “support team” comes in. Your support team will be individual to you, but may include a family member, other half or your club or team mates.
You may need to be your own support team at times, so write down a list of things you need in advance and follow it on the day. The benefit of racing with other members of a team or club (most likely the latter as clubs tend to be geographically based) is that you can share lifts, track pumps, additional helpers and cake, plus you’re not on your own either, once you get to the headquarters. The final option is that you enlist the help of a friend, your other half, a parent (or child, depending on your age!) and take them with you to the event so that they can help you with getting yourself sorted, putting a number on, and, guess what? They could also help out at the event (marshal, drive a support vehicle, hand up drinks). Race organisers nearly always need more help on the day, so get your support team involved and make a day of it!
At the end of the day, bike racing should be fun. If you can enjoy it with other people, you’re more likely to stick at it.