Women's Cycle Racing: Enduring Meanings

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2012




In this study, I explore the challenges associated with long distance women's road racing. Within the sport of cycling, road race distances for women and men differ greatly. I examine the meanings that these distances have acquired within women’s road racing, according to promoters/race organizers, athletes, and governing bodies, as based upon their experiences with well-known and historically significant women’s competitions, circa 1950s-1990s. Based upon this research, the three main ways that distance has taken on meaning in women's road racing are as follows: 1) women do not have the stamina, strength or speed to effectively and efficiently race long distances; 2) the length of the race correlates negatively with women's aggressiveness; and 3) races that are too long increase the likelihood that competitors and promoters will have to deal with the issue of women's public urination during the race.