As Stacy Sims says in her 2016 book Roar, “Women are not small men.” Our racecraft is different, our power profiles are different, and our competition is… different. For many of us, racing against women is uplifting in a way that mixed racing is not. Women’s racing has developed the way many women’s communities do – out of a sense of togetherness rather than a need to distinguish oneself. The racing can be as fierce as on the mixed side, but the training beforehand and the support afterward certainly isn’t. Many of the best women’s racers on the platform with a penchant for teaching have stepped up to help those of us who want to learn and grow as riders.
For example, Gabi Guerra has started leading a weekly sprint training session where a group of women practices the technical side of racing – spinning your legs fast and jumping your power up to sprint pace.
The group stays together and the ride is open to women of all ability levels and teams. Throughout the sessions, Gabi fields questions and gives advice based on her training and experience. She also points out women in the group who are great sprinters so others can see the avatars’ acceleration. This type of support helps women improve their cycling skills and feel more confident in their ability to race.
Another prime example of women building up women racers is Alice Lethbridge, currently on The Coalition. Alice has spent immeasurable hours helping multiple women’s teams develop to their full potential by explaining race tactics, helping with the technical implementation of those tactics, developing individual riders to the best version of themselves, and DS’ing the ZGP women of The Coalition.
If you ever raced against a team developed by Alice, you know just what that teaching added to the team.
In a third prime example of women helping women, Karla, the co-founder of Aeonian, along with her core management team, spends time with each racer developing their virtual racing abilities and understanding of strategies used in Zwift racing. Additionally, the team equips them with terrain knowledge and tactical insights, ensuring readiness for various scenarios that may unfold during the race.
This expertise is often the difference between a podium finish and a back-of-the-pack finish.
Finally, the advocates for women’s racing are not limited to women racers. James Bailey, formerly of Herd and now working for Zwift, has been a tireless advocate for women’s racing since he led the HERd SHEries in 2018. He not only has a wealth of information on the logistical setup and participation rates of women’s series, but is always advocating, connecting, and supporting women organizers. He was the first to point out to me, when I wanted to put on a women’s series, that there are, and have been, many great women’s series, but not enough racers to participate in all the races. His support of women’s racing is impressive and highly valued by the women’s racing community.
Racers like Gabi, Alice, and Karla, and supporters like James, make now an awesome time to jump into women’s racing.
Written by Beccah Niesen