On Monday, January 27th, Georgia Bicycle Racing Association held a special board of directors meeting to discuss and vote on the issue of junior categories at Georgia State Championship races.
GBRA voted to reinstate the USAC National Championship Junior Age Categories for the Georgia State Championship races. Junior girls and boys will be scored separately within their respective 2 year age categories. (minutes from GBRA meetings can be found on the gacycling.org website)
In an effort to grow junior cycling, we call on all cyclists to promote cycling whenever possible. Please stay informed by liking the Georgia Bicycle Racing Association Facebook page. Sign up to receive news on the gacycling.org website. Take the opportunity to introduce road cycling to juniors from other sports such as triathlons, swimming, running, skating, BMX racing, mountain biking, and recreational cycling. Make an effort to help promote races through your social media outlets. And please VOLUNTEER at some races this season.
Thank you to all for your support.
CALL FOR PROPOSALS, 1/24/2014 Today is the last day to Submit Proposals
Calling All Licensed Cyclists Who Support the Sport of Cycling to click on the link below and submit a formal proposal to GBRA by Friday January 24th.
Thank you for taking the time to sign the petition last week in support of Junior Girls Bicycle Racing. Georgia Bicycle Racing Association will hold a special meeting on Monday January 27th, to discuss the boys and girls junior categories for State Championship Races. GBRA has made a request for proposals to consider for junior categories in state championship races. Following is a collaborative proposal that we wish to submit to Georgia Bicycle Racing Association. If you are in agreement, please click on the following link: www.gacycling.org/articles/86 You may submit the same proposal if you wish, by simply cutting and pasting the appropriate sections of this document into the respective boxes on the link. Your help is greatly appreciated.
GBRA requires that all submitted proposals list a USAC License number. If you are a parent, and do not have a racing license, then please use your child’s USAC license number. If you are just a fan and supporter, but do not have a license number, then perhaps you have a friend or family member who does race and is willing to support all junior cyclists, both boys and girls.
Use the same categories as National Championships. Combine age group race fields if necessary, but do not eliminate any junior categories. Each category should be individually scored and state championship jerseys awarded in all age groups, girls and boys (even in a case where potentially only 1 nine year old girl shows up to race in the 9-10 girls category). Combine categories with appropriate staggered starts to help ensure that accurate results are provided for all riders. Example: Criteriums could have 2 start lines a few yards apart. Line up boys age 9-14 on first line and girls age 9-14 on second start line just a few yards back. This makes it possible to start the boys 20 seconds ahead of the girls. Apply the same starting method to the 15-18 age groups. Distinguish between age groups with color coding on race number backgrounds. Road Races could be staggered 2 minutes apart. Score the cyclists as follows:
9-10 girls Delay start of girls 9-14
15-16 girls Delay start of girls 15-18
USA Cycling encourages State Championships to follow the same formats for disciplines and age groups as are used for National Championships. Girls and boys must be scored separately. Under no circumstances should girls and boys be combined into the same scoring category for State Championships.
Staggering the start would help alleviate some of the issues for both the scorers and the racers.
Use of different colored backgrounds of race numbers (or at minimum, marking the numbers with colored dots, colored duck tape or a sharpie) will help distinguish between the different junior categories.
Competitors will be able to determine who they are racing against, with the help of the staggered start and the use of varied colored race numbers.
Combined scoring in the State Championships poses tremendous risks to the future of women's cycling:
-Robs all junior female cyclists in the state of Georgia of the opportunity to become state champions.
-Shrinks the sport of women's cycling. Junior girls who are the future of the sport will be discouraged from racing if they have no chance of winning.
-Sets a precedent for all races in Georgia to score junior females with junior males.
-Eliminates the possibility for a Georgia female cyclist to get a call-up at the National Championships. State Champions receive points on the USA Cycling point system and only the top 10 point recipients in the country receive this privilege. Georgia has produced many of these top 10 girls in recent years. Why would we stop now?
UPDATE, 1/17/2014. In 2 shorts days, we collected over 500 signatures in support of junior female cycling in Georgia. The support has validated in the greater cycling community our local belief that GBRA’s changes to the junior categories unfairly and asymmetrically affected females.
While we have received no official response from GBRA, it is our present understanding that the Board intends to revisit the junior category issue in its next meeting, scheduled for early February.
At this point, junior cycling and women’s cycling in Georgia still needs your help. Please focus your time and resources on how YOU can make a positive difference. Contact the GBRA (firstname.lastname@example.org) and offer your suggestions, encouragement and support (time, financial or otherwise). Georgia presently has a bright and vibrant future in junior female cycling. Georgia ranks 5th nationally in licensed junior female cyclists, and in 2013 4 junior females won medals at the USA Cycling National Championships.
In the meantime, below is my best understanding to date of the situation and my best effort at an amicable solution that attempts to incorporate all the interests involved. Thank you to all the civil and constructive comments on Facebook, which helped formulate these ideas.
GBRA’S CONCERN. Their present justification for the change is to ensure adequate competition and to avoid giving a "participation title" to a lone girl, a reaction to recent low turnout numbers in some categories for some Championship races. Their thinking: combine the categories to bolster the numbers in each category and thus increase the quality of the competition.
PROBLEM #1. They have combined boys with girls, instead of boys with boys and girls with girls. Boys racing with girls doesn't increase the quality of the competition; it does increase the numbers, but the girls are generally not competitive against the boys. The result is that girls will be winning few, if any, state championships and thus exclusively shoulder the entire burden of lack of junior participation.
PROBLEM#2. Combining the categories won't increase participation, but may in fact serve to discourage female riders from staying in the sport.
PROBLEM#3. Static, predetermined combining of the categories still does not ensure adequate participation in a given category. Their solution doesn't even solve the problem!
A BETTER SOLUTION. Offer a complete line-up of State Championship categories (10 categories: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18, boys AND girls). If, and only if, a minimum of 3 riders in each category are not registered for a Championship race, then combine the categories upwards, within a given gender, until you have your 3 riders. This solution restores gender equality, ensures quality competition in all categories with no preconceived notion of attendance AND actually encourages juniors to recruit other junior cyclists or risk combination of their category.
ORIGINAL PETITION, 1/14/2014. The Georgia Bicycle Racing Association (GBRA) has eliminated three female junior categories from the 2014 State Championships (http://gacycling.org/pages/statechamps). While boys and girls have always raced along side each other, this year they will be racing against each other. Analysis of 20 years worth of junior cycling time trial data shows that on average 12 year old boys are 2.5 MPH faster than 12 year old girls. The difference is 4 MPH at 14 years old. GBRA's change effectively eliminates all young girls from competition.
The changes are even more discriminatory for the older juniors: there will be a 15-16 boys and 17-18 boys category, but only one 15-18 girls category. Thus, a 10 year old girl new to cycling in 2014 will effectively have to patiently be trounced in all State Championships for her first 6 or so years of cycling, until she is old enough to compete with 18 year old Category 2 women cyclists.
These changes are not good for the future of women's cycling or junior cycling.
We have expressed our concern directly to the GBRA Board of Directors, but they have ignored our concerns. We have offered to pay for the extra state jerseys, thus eliminating any financial burden that may be caused by the young women. We have offered to champion efforts to increase female ridership, but those offers have been rejected.