Podcast 2014 Episode 55 – Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Podcast logoIt’s time to talk cycling survey results! So that’s what we do this week, breaking down the basic demographics of our respondents and highlighting the sections that we each found most interesting. There’s lies, damned lies and most importantly, statistics (and of course plenty of jokes and swearing to go along with it)! (55:14 MIN / 53.03 MB)

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We were talking about the women’s cycling audience survey we ran in September – and we’ll be starting a series of mini-posts talking about things we’re interested in over the next month or so – and then an overarching collation post at the end.

Huge thanks, as ever, to everyone who shared the survey, completed it themselves, posted about it, and everything else.  We really appreciate your support – and if you have any specific questions about it, please do let us know, on twitter (Sarah is @_pigeons_, Dan is @danwofficial), in the comments, or at prowomenscycling [at] gmail [dot] come

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How much DOES it cost to run a women’s cycling team?

I’ve always wondered how much we’ve talking about, when women’s cycling teams talk about sponsorship etc. I’ve heard that an top-level women’s team cost about €300k, or the very top level teams are €400k, so I was very interested to read this article on Cycling Weekly, where Matrix Fitness Racing Academy DS/owner/manger Stefan Wyman talks about how much it cost to run a women’s team. I’m going to interview Stef over the weekend, but in the meantime, check out these figures, and if you know any companies pass them on!

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Marketing and bullshit (Ratatat remix)

Alright, it’s been a while since the last episode in my ongoing saga of posts about marketing and cycling and how the two are inextricably linked. We were previously caught up in the wonder of all things Social Media Jersey and since then Sarah’s been busy working out what you should all get her for Christmas (seriously, if you want to send Sarah a Christmas present, let me know and I’ll totally facilitate shenanigans).

Anyway, today the inimitable Kathryn Bertine shared a great interview with Colavita marketing VP John Profaci and it prompted me to get back into the minutiae of selling your soul to shill for corporate hacks (like me). It seems we (women’s cycling fans) have been thinking in this direction a bit lately, also spurred on by Amber Pierce’s excellent blogs, especially her Continuing the Dialogue article and the REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT READ – Click Thru Thursdays. So it’s clearly time for us to get back into it.

Before we do that though, it’s really important to set the right mood and the best possible way to do that is to hit play on this great remix of the Notorious B.I.G. classic and let it roll while you read the articles linked above:

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How to go about building a different kind of team structure (Part 3 of I don’t know how many)

Our dear friend Adelaidefatboy* raised an excellent point in the previous post, and it leads perfectly into where I wanted to go next in our exploration of the nature of team structures. I mentioned three key things that I wanted us to begin to address in our understanding of cycling in general and women’s cycling specifically. The first of these was the notion of professionalism.

I think that there are two aspects of professionalism that need to be (re)considered when it comes to women’s cycling. Firstly, I think we need to question what it is to be a professional cyclist. I won’t belabour this point too strongly as Stef Wyman has covered it brilliantly in his piece on this matter for Cyclismas.

Suffice it to say that I think it’s very much an important part of the broader conversation that we all bear in mind there are still many women “professionals” who are partly or entirely self-funded. Who ride bikes they’ve bought and paid for themselves. Who aren’t supplied with matching kit or various forms of support and assistance.

Let me be clear, this has nothing to do with the talent, dedication, commitment or work of these women. They almost certainly are professional in every respect of their working lives, probably more than professional given the constraints that they have to work with. The point is that it’s misleading to call that level of organisation professional and act as if we can’t do better. Of course we can do better, and I believe that we all want to do better.

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How to go about building a different kind of team structure (Part 1 of I don’t know how many)

First up I should probably confess that the title of this post will wind up being more of a question than an answer, sometimes that’s how things go. For well over a year I’ve observed with interest the collective headscratching and uncertainty surrounding how to sustainably build a professional cycling team. It’s a complex and involved set of issues, rather than just something that can be considered as a standalone problem. This is because cycling exists as a fragile ecosystem and changes to any one part of it have effects (sometimes unforeseen) on the rest of it. So the question of sustainable cycling models is by necessity going to be a tough nut to crack. Something I think the sport itself is really only starting to come to terms with.

In particular Jonathan Vaughters has been vocal on the issue and has at different times had varied ideas and suggestions on how a more sustainable structure may be put into place. Along the way Mr Vaughters has done a good job of explaining why this matters and why the current system is not really viable or in the best interests of cycling.

Let’s start at the start – the dependency of cycling teams on sponsorship deals leaves them in a peculiar and vulnerable position compared to most other professional sports. Most sports derive their primary income from broadcast rights. That is, tv networks pay them large sums of money in order to broadcast the sport. Cycling Oddity the first; broadcast rights are held by race organisers not by any sort of league or association (as is the case with other, larger sports). This means that teams have limited bargaining power in terms of money and in offering exposure to potential sponsors. Problematic to say the least.

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