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 June 5, 2019.

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Hey, hi, sorry, this week’s newsletter is a bit short (I think) and definitely scattered. After racing Victoria 70.3 on Sunday, and doing a bizarre Live Feisty photo shoot on Monday, I flew home at 5 a.m. and my face hurts as I write this. I’m also still not sure how I feel about my racing this year or this weekend. Or, rather, I know how I feel and how I feel is like there are some concrete and specific things that I need to fix, because, fuck, guys.

I’m only telling you this so you know where I’m at, and if you don’t care you can just scroll down, no problem. But I actually always find it odd when people say ‘no one cares’ about your races except you. Of course they care; they just don’t care about every little detail. They care as much as you care about them. It makes no sense to assume that you have perceptions and opinions and feelings about other people, but they don’t have the same ideas about you. Those perceptions and feelings and ideas may be wrong or not quite right, but they’re there. ‘She’s always faster than me.’ ‘Oh, she bikes good but blows up.’ ‘He’s been hurt a lot.’ That’s the gist of what you think about other people and that’s the amount they also think about you.

So, you don’t care about my specifics, but maybe you care a little about the gist of the thing. It happened. It should have been pretty good, but it wasn’t. I feel kinda bad about it, but not super bad because there is at least a bit of clarity now. And also I’m taking a mini-gather-myself break. Which is also why everything except this intro is short this week.

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Lots of races

(I feel like this picture of Paula Findlay, Heather Wurtele, and Miranda Carfrae right before we started captures the full range of pre-race emotions. Photo: Talbot Cox)

Yes, like we said, there are perhaps too many pro races now. Who knew.

Lucy Charles won her third Challenge Championship this weekend and Sebastien Kienle finally won his first. Daniela Ryf, though, was over in Switzerland winning that race — which sorta makes sense, hometown crowd, etc. And Jan Frodeno is back from injury apparently and winning in Kraichgau(which is in Germany, fyi, so home, different town). Victoria was actually the closest and most competitive of the 70.3s and Mirinda ran that one down, while Sam Long won the men’s race, which makes his second in two weeks btw.

Someone was talking this weekend about how awesome and epic the races in Europe are, but no one in North America cares. It’s like it all happens in a vacuum and sponsors basically say, ‘Well, that’s nice, but can you race here now.’

Like I’ve said, I think there are a lot of different things happening here. No points anymore. Shit prize money. More female pros in North America (confirmed). Some people kinda on their way out. Ironman over-saturating its market and devaluing its pros. And, well, people make the choices that make sense for them individually. It’s just that individual choices add up on the aggregate to trends.

One more note about 70.3 world championship slots: At Victoria, the top six women (those in the money) all either had a spot already or had already turned one down. Everyone knew it was going to roll down, except for the announcer apparently. He couldn’t figure out what to do then, kinda went ‘oh well, the next person probably isn’t here,’ and wasn’t going to hand out the spot until we started yelling from the crowd that she was here. Glad it worked out for her, but come on.

Here comes the money

The Women’s World Cup starts Friday. And I’m both pumped and have a lot of thoughts.

Women’s soccer is getting more money and sponsors, which it has to get if it wants to be for real, if we want to take this up a notch. You can’t have pro sports without pro money. But with that is coming a lot of questions I think.

Women’s soccer is also getting more talent and more competition. The U.S. is not as dominant anymore. There are maybe five teams that could win this thing. And European teams have been pouring money into the women’s side of their existing soccer development pipelines — pipelines the U.S. doesn’t have, relying instead on the NCAA. By the next World Cup the U.S. may not even be a favorite. And that’s why you’re also getting more young U.S. players skipping college or going to Europe to play or signing a pro deal when they’re 14.

It’s not that any of these things are great. It’s just that they’re the inevitability of equality? Maybe.

Gravel drama

Speaking of money, Dirty Kanza (the massively popular gravel race that wanted to stay not massively popular) had some drama this weekend.

As best I can tell, there was a lot of upset-ness about pro riders coming and ruining the vibe. Using aerobars. Generally being a little too pro about the whole thing. Of course, a different guy ended up winning anyway. And no one showed up for awards the next day, which maybe was just confusion and caused more drama. And it all made me feel like at least triathlon isn’t the only thing that gets super insider-y and exclusive-y and worried about someone ruining their sport.

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  • Ironman acquired and added more stuff this week, at least according to the press releases I got. There’s a new China 70.3 in Xi’an, which makes four in China for this year. Ironman also bought out the company that licensed and put on Ironman Philippines, Subic Bay 70.3, and Davao 70.3 (and some other stuff). Not sure what that means other than Ironman is spending again. (Ironman)
  • Today is Global Running Day. Some other day this week (Monday?) was Global Bike Day or something. Besides being a chance for people to post sponsored shit on social media, I’m not totally sure what these are about.
  • Caster Semenya won a temporary appeal to the Swiss supreme courtand, for now, will get to run without taking testosterone-lowering medication. Apparently, the Swiss courts get to decide these things because the Court of Arbitration for Sport is based in Switzerland? Can some lawyer explain this to me. (New York Times)
  • The NCAA championships are also this week, which are always fun and also a big deal for college athletes looking to secure contracts. As the Fast Women newsletter pointed out (and went into much more detail), a lot of agents and marketing people and reps are men. Most are men. And contracts are negotiated by men then with a lot of things besides performance in mind. Just stating some facts here. (Fast Women)
  • I simply enjoyed this story about maids in Hong Kong finding respect through ultra-running. (New York Times)
  • Did not love some of the things ASO’s been doing with the women’s World Tour races(Outside)
  • Now that some of the pros are on Strava, KOMs are dropping throughout the Giro. *insert laughing crying face* (Cycling Weekly)
  • Kara Goucher is spearheading a new clean sports podcast. First guest: head of USADA. After that? I’m guessing they run out of anti-doping officials fairly quickly. (Instagram)
  • I don’t really care about lacrosse, but I think there might be some things to learn from these two competing pro leagues(Washington Post)
  • Look, even if you’re increasingly convinced by some of the anti-suncreen research, this shouldn’t need to be said: Don’t try to make your own sunscreen(Medium)

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Comments & thoughts

– Sean pointed out I should have included Summer Rappaport’s overjoyed second place at the Yokohama WTS race in last week’s round-up of times it’s been worth it.

– Thorsten also crunched the numbers and says I am right about there being a buttload (official term) of female pros in North America. We’ll discuss some on this week’s podcast.

– And as promised, we did a live video from Vic (and weirded out a woman sitting near us in the process). A handful of you also came and said hi IRL, so hi. Though no one yelled at me to fucking go faster.