So, this was going to be another rant about sexism in cycling. Seriously, I was loaded and ready to fire. And it wouldn't be the first time I've gone off half cocked. But instead, I waited, bided my time, and did some further investigation. And that investigation revealed that it wasn't a matter of sexism, just a lost opportunity.
Here's the deal. I went down to the Treadlie Bikefest Market on Friday night. It was pretty rad. There were food tents and bike tents and everything in between. I was also pretty stoked to see that there was a tent there representing the UCI track world champs, because I love it when two different cycling tribes overlap.
I was chatting to someone in one of the tents when this extremely attractive young woman, wearing bright pink lipstick and approximately twenty gallons of fake tan, rocked up. "Um, I'm looking for the cycling tent?" she asked. With that much information I was stumped. "The one with the big cycling event in April?" She continued. I pointed her in the direction of the rainbow stripes that represented what I came to - possibly incorrectly - call the Cycling Australia tent.
Later that night I was surprised, given the lack of knowledge she had already displayed on the matter, to see her handing out flyers for the track world champs. And this was when my sexism rant started to formulate itself. I was all set to call this young woman out, but still I had doubts. There was always a slim possibility that it was some A grade trackie from out of town who was just disoriented by the big city lights. After all, the other women down at the Cycling Australia tent certainly knew their shit. So I waited.
I returned to the Market on Sunday to compere the roller racing. This time I was armed with a megaphone, which someone had foolishly given me in order to spare my voice a little. The young woman was there again, walking around in a Cyclones jersey, with the same bright lipstick and fake tan. But this time she had some hot young guy with her, also in a Cyclones jersey, and armed with flyers. My sexism rant melted away, but I asked some questions regardless. All on the megaphone, of course.
"Hey, I'm keen to come to that! What night is the scratch race on?"
The guy answered. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "This event is in April."
"Yeah I know. I want to go to the scratch race. What night is it on?"
He shrugged his shoulders again.
"You don't know anything about the event, do you?"
He shook his head and began walking away.
"Do you even ride a bike?"
He walked away a little quicker.
Obviously this wasn't a sexism issue, but someone had hired two models, with little to no experience of cycling, to promote their event. There's obviously a reason for this - people are more likely to respond well when someone attractive approaches them bearing flyers. But that's some grade A horseshit that we shouldn't buy into. This was a sweet opportunity for whoever was doing the promoting to put word out among the cyclists of Melbourne that volunteers were needed to help promote the track world champs. Certainly there are cyclists around who are equally as attractive, if not more attractive, than the models hired. And those cyclists would have been able to not only provide accurate information about the event, but also share with the punters the enthusiasm, the passion and the excitement they feel for the sport.
And, furthermore, they probably would've worked for free tickets.
So it's not about people being sexist, for once. It's probably more about people being lazy, and going through their existing channels, rather than investigating new, initially more difficult, but eventually more rewarding ones.