The amateur women on the line at Green Mountain this past weekend. Jeff Bramhall

The amateur women on the line at Green Mountain this past weekend. © Jeff Bramhall

by Lily Richeson

It has been whispered that the Women’s field is one of the fastest growing in cyclocross racing today. Looking down the line of the first race in the 2011 Verge Series, Green Mountain Cyclocross, this is visually apparent – a mass of close to 50 competitive cyclists tensely await the whistle. This is ten riders more than last year and while this may not seem like anything more than a tiny victory compared to most other sports, even other types of cycling, that number is huge.  If ten new women race every season that means there could be close to 60 next year, and so on. Not to mention that because this is the Amateur Women’s category, most of these women are only a few seasons in and keep coming back or, even bigger, are brand new. We have been talking. We have been recruiting. We have been having fun, seeing results, getting better and telling our friends to join in.

This series of posts from the 3/4 Women’s field will be more than just race reports. This past weekend was hard. It always is. If it isn’t, you aren’t doing cyclocross right, no matter what field you race in. I got dirty, I almost crashed someone out, my bike failed me once, and the barriers felt like climbing one of the distant mountain ranges that lined the course view. What else is new?

During my cool down period after day one I overheard a junior woman who had just started racing with the 3/4 field exclaim, “I had such a great day today. This field is so much fun to race with.” The positivity and truth in this statement caused me to grin. We do have fun. We also have so much more. Our field is unique in so many ways that it can be almost hard to explain without getting too political, personal, or emotional.

And they're off! The women take to the course. Jeff Bramhall

And they're off! The women take to the course. © Jeff Bramhall

These women are ones I see weekend after weekend. We are supportive of not only each other as competitive cyclists, but since we are usually one of the earliest races of the day, of the other men’s and women’s fields as well. We talk course tactics, results, tire pressure, partner stress, school, jobs, life, food, favorites, share resources, roll eyes, laugh and do so much more throughout the course of a race day. How many instances are women presented with where we can not only compete against each other but also gain a sense of camaraderie and community?

Some of us are forced to move on as we grow strong enough for the elite field. While this is a loss for us in some ways, more than anything it is inspiring. Slowly but surely, year after year we gain in numbers. We can only go up from here.

Lily lives in Somerville, Massachusetts and races for Cycle-Smart. She is in her second New England cyclocross season and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. You can read more rantings and writings at her personal blog.