I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the discussion was about the James Webb Telescope and the advances that have taken shape since Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin first stepped foot on the moon. People seem to see significant advances in the world and marvel at them for a short time, but only long enough until a different field has a breakthrough. When the first field that was marveled at has another breakthrough, they go back. Only the people who give their undivided attention to one field realize these breakthroughs come far and slim. You begin to appreciate and celebrate even the small breakthroughs that outsiders often overlook.
The world moves at a rapid rate. Technology has advanced and developed in ways that were unimaginable a century ago – I think the same goes for women’s cycling. From a twenty-year-old’s perspective who started racing at the age of twelve in twenty-fourteen, I have seen several “leaps” in women’s cycling. I went from only being able to find short five-minute videos on YouTube (if I was lucky) to watching hours of live coverage. Now, there is a minimum wage in women’s cycling, live coverage is mandatory for races that want the title of World Tour, and there is a Women’s Tour de France for the first time in thirty-three years!
These leaps, however, were not leaps. As a professional cyclist, my life revolves around these changes—they directly impact my life. People in the sport are working hard for these “leaps” day in and day out. The leaps do not happen overnight and are a combination of small steps compiled together.
In the USA, when I tell people I race bikes professionally, I usually get a confused look and then a response along the lines of, “Oh, like the Tour de France,” or “Do you do the Tour de France?” (I don’t even try to explain track cycling). Until this year, my answer has always been, “Kind of, but not really. There is no women’s Tour de France.” This year though, it has been a privilege to say that there is a women’s Tour de France, and I hope to compete in it in the coming years.
I want people to realize that the changes in women’s cycling did not happen overnight and that it will not, and should not, stop at the Women’s Tour de France. The main takeaway from the Tour de Femmes was the addition of so many fans for women’s cycling. I believe women’s cycling needs fans that show up to the races, tune in to the live streams, and promote their sponsors. More fans equal more sponsors, which equals more money and support for women’s cycling. The more support women’s cycling receives, the more it will grow, and the number of women who can say they race professionally for a living will increase.
I’m grateful to all the people who have stayed the course and pushed for these changes so more women can have opportunities in this sport. Women’s cycling is growing, and I want people to realize and celebrate it, become devoted fans, and keep pushing for more!
Thank you for reading my blog and thoughts on this topic!
Wishing you all the best,
PS, follow my personal adventures on Instagram @meganjastrab 🙂