If We Were Riding’ is a weekly triathlon-ish newsletter written by Kelly O’Mara and produced by Live Feisty Media. Subscribe to get it in your inbox every Wednesday morning. You can also read past issues. This episode is from May 29, 2019.

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Well, you are definitely a bunch of gossips and were all over the doping news last week. I didn’t really expect quite that much appetite for salaciousness, but I suppose it’s what we’d talk about if we really were riding. Also makes me think I actually should do a reader survey soon to find out exactly who we’re talking to.

Speaking of talking: Sara and I will be doing something Live from Victoria 70.3 this weekend, either before the race or after depending on, well, how my race goes. What do you think we should talk about or do on a Live video? Stay tuned to the If We Were Riding Insta and Facebook.

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The look of winning

Tayler Wiles is probably someone you’ve never heard of. She’s a pro cyclist for Trek and a local in my old neighborhood. I’ve interviewed her a couple of times for stories and I follow her on Insta. And last week she won her first UCI WorldTour race.

The reason I’m telling you this is because the photos of her sobbing and cracked just past the finish line are everything. I’ve never seen a more accurate depiction of what it means when all the work finally pays off, and how hard it is to make that happen.

Kate Courtenay is another local girl and the first American to win a mountain bike world championship since 2001. Two weeks ago, she won her first World Cup and then she won another. It wasn’t easy; it’s never easy. #sparklewatts

Our very own Sara Gross won Ironman Brazil five years ago this week, just six weeks after she was ready to quit the sport. Sarah Piampiano won that race in commanding fashion this past weekend. I know she had a kinda tough start to the season but I think it was all worth it. Did you see how much the IM Australia win meant to Laura Siddall earlier this year? And now it looks like she has a broken collarbone. Ups and downs.

I have no point, other than that sometimes we need to be reminded that sometimes it’s worth it. Lots of times it’s not, by definition. But sometimes it is.

Are there too many races?

Yes, yes there are too many races.

But to expand. Beyond the question of market saturation and how wise it is to keep cutting into your own customer base, it seems clear the race calendar is having an impact on the pro field. There are, I believe, about 78 pro 70.3 races on the calendar and 40ish (?) full races. That’s a lot. And, yes, the fact that people don’t need to chase Kona points anymore means some of the 70.3s are way more competitive than they used to be. But a lot of them aren’t. At all. And with no huge reason for pros to do multiple full IMs now in a season there are also some weak Ironman fields. It just seems to depend on the location, timing, logistics, prize money, etc, etc, etc. This may sort itself out. Likely there’ll be a consolidation. We’ll see.

One more thought about 70.3 World Championship qualifying: I’ve also been paying attention to the pro roll downs at each race and it’s been a crapshoot so far. By now in the qualifying year you’d assume the big names would have their spots. But, instead, it seems like no one’s adjusted to the new system. So you’re getting some races where the biggest names don’t have a spot and other races where it rolls way down.

For example, here are the places of the women who were already qualified going into St. George: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 12th, 13th, 18th. You know who isn’t on the qualified list yet (though I have no idea if they want a spot or not): Linsey Corbin, Heather Jackson, Jen Annett. You see why it’s been a crapshoot?

‘Sports Illustrated’ for Women

Did you know Billie Jean King launched a women’s Sports Illustrated back in the day? Unfortunately named womenSports. Over time it was sold and became a women’s fitness magazine, which is a different thing. But it made me think about how we talk about sports and women’s sports and fitness.

I don’t care about football or baseball. Like, I’ll go to a game and drink a lot, but I don’t really want to cover either of those sports. Yet, in the world of sports reporting, the Big Three Sports are considered the pinnacle, the jobs everyone wants. If you only report on running or swimming or women’s soccer, maybe it’s because you couldn’t hack it at a “real” sports job. If you only want to write for espnW, not ESPN, it’s probably because you’re not good enough.

There’s also this weird line drawn somewhere between sports and fitness. I’ve been looking at a lot of jobs lately and turns out (who knew) that what I know a ton about isn’t serious manly sports. What I know a ton about is often framed as “health and wellness” or “fitness.” How very soft and womanly of me.

I do think there’s room for a women’s Sports Illustrated now, about the things I’d actually want to read about. Kind of as if we just took the stuff we like out of the magazines and made it into our own magazine.

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Comments & thoughts

– Jennifer thinks I should definitely run around Mt. Blanc this summer. Right after I make my life plan.

– The other Kelly wants to point out the issues surrounding pregnancy are probably partially because women are having kids later. “I think its more that athletic careers are now a bit longer than they used to be, so women, who may have delayed having children in their 20s, are faced with decisions about balancing child birth and rearing with athletic career goals in their 30s.”

– And I just learned that our podcast episodes are often named after random things I say during recording. So.