Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Half the Road Screening Recap

         Before getting in to last night's screening, I wanted to show off the new logo for the blog! It's not too shabby, in my opinion, since I only had Microsoft word to work with and have no design training at all. 
Swim, bike, run, ride- all of my favorite things!

The official sign was up when we got there!
       Well, last night, after a couple months of planning and promoting, the screening for Half the Road: The Passions, Pitfalls, and Power of Women's Professional Cycling finally happened! The show sold 98 tickets, and although we didn't have that many show up to the actual event, we still had a great crowd at the theater


The poster in front of the theater- it's for real!

Just part of the crowd waiting to be let in (those that weren't at Happy Hour next door- hah!)
  Bryce and I arrived at the theater around 6:30 to set up our table. The Alamo was nice enough to let us borrow a table and tablecloth for the fundraiser raffles. I got them set up and spread out in order and then waited for people to start filing in. I had four prizes- a headband from Sweaty Bands , a free bike race from the Driveway Series in Austin, a bib and medal holder from Endure Race Display, and the big prize of five class passes to Brass Ovaries. Movie-goers donated from $1-$5 per ticket and then selected the jar that corresponded with the prize they wanted. 
Me standing with the prize table- lots to offer those who wanted to help support Austin Pets Alive!

        As people came in to the movie, I met them by the theater and explained the raffle set-up. The one flaw in my plan is that no one (including me!) carries cash, but I knew that going in, so I just did the best I could to explain that every dollar helped, and every dollar was going directly to help Austin Pets Alive

Jars with the business logos on them people could pick from.

When it came time for the movie to start, I ducked in to the theater and grabbed a seat, while Bryce watched for stragglers before joining me. We watched the film- which I will get to in a second- and then headed back out in to the hallway to draw for prizes. The winners all got to take home their prize that night, and I hope they were as excited to get them as I was to give them away! I am a dork with a goldfish memory, so even though I had told myself to take pictures and document everything, I completely forgot in all of my excitement. (If you were a winner- send me a picture of you with your prize! The awesome donors would love to see them!)

     Now, on to the film itself. Half the Road is a documentary by Katheryn Bertine that was intended to be an informational film about the world of female professional cycling. However, the more the filmmakers interviewed athletes and dug in to the issues, the more they realized that talking about the sport alone was impossible without addressing the gross inequalities the athletes face every day.  In their words, "We thought we were making a movie about women’s professional cycling. Then it turned into a film about equality, told through the medium of kick ass female athletes."

     I am not heavily involved in the world of professional cycling, and to be honest, have only watched maybe two stages of the Tour de France in my life, much less any smaller pro races or events. I came in to the film a newbie, and came out enlightened, educated about the sport, and mad as hell. 

     During the film, they took time to start from the very beginning of bike racing, and briefly covered how it began, pointing out that women have been racing since the inception of the sport itself. I appreciated that the filmmakers took the time to explain the Peloton, as well as the different roles riders have in that group. Taking just a few minutes to educate an American-non-racer like myself made all the difference. They are right- if the sport received a fraction of the attention football, baseball, or other popular sports did, then people would be interested. There is drama and intrigue and competition at a raw level, and it's a universally enjoyable thing to watch, no matter one's age, gender, or other factors. 

     Once viewers got a background to cycling and how it works in the sport, film makers used interviews with a long list of athletes to discuss the obstacles facing women in the sport of cycling. Athlete attitudes ranged from shrugging shoulders and sighs, so outright anger and a few curse words here and there. No matter how they approached it, it was clear that all of them were fed up with the condition their sport was in and desperate for change. However, filmmakers clearly illustrated the immense amount of red tape, back talk, and outright discrimination that must be overcome. 

      The UCI, led by a president set enough in his thoughts on women in the sport that he refused an interview,  holds the key to a lot of the problems, and refuses to unlock the solutions. Women's races are, by mandate, shorter, happen less often, receive less funding and attention, and come with pitifully smaller prize purses. The best part of the film was their use of the UCI's excuses versus the rebuttals of athletes, coaches, and activists. They presented a problem- say, the UCI's claim that women cannot handle a race as long and hard as the Tour de France (the part of the film that made my want to shake my fist in anger at the screen)- and then had an athlete refute the problem. In this case, more than one pointed out that there is no medical evidence women cannot handle it. In fact, there is mounting evidence that female physiology is in fact better suited for long endurance challenges. Also, women in the 80s already have done the Tour De France Femenine. It existed in the past successfully. I won't go on a long rant as an historian about people's ability to conveniently forget historic fact when it suits them, but there it is. Kathyrn Bertine appears in the film predominately, as she used her small camera to capture a lot of the interviews and race footage on her travels. She balances smart, insightful commentary, with funny, snarky humor that shows that in the state women's cycling is in, sometimes you have to laugh to avoid crying or choking on your own frustration. 

      The thing that made me very proud was when the film highlighted the sport of triathlon and one of my favorites, Chrissie Wellington. She is not only a really amazing athlete who I wish was my bestie because she seems like a lot of fun, but also gave an honest and frank look at how, with all the claims in the world against equality for women in endurance sports, triathlon gets it right. In triathlon events, women start the same races, race the same distances, and receive equal prize purses. There has been, from the very beginning, parity between genders and it made me so proud of my chosen sport. Chrissie not only has always been on an equal playing field with her male competitors, but often, she soundly beats them. She is consistently ranked in the top ten overall, not just the women's field, at her race, and wins many of them. She is a shining, in-your-face-example that when women are given a level playing field, they can compete and they can win at the exact same distances and difficulties. 

      That made me literally say an exasperated, "Uh, thank yoooooooooooou," out loud in the theater. This is what I say every time I have to argue with an idiot about women in sports. No woman out there is asking for special concessions or accommodations to make things easier and then demanding equality. All we want is a chance. Sure, there will be a lot who don't finish tough stages, who can't keep up- myself included, because I know I am not a top athlete (yet!). However, there are a lot out there who can do it and are just being refused the chance. It's not fair, not ok at all, plain and simple. I could go on for hours, but I'd rather let the much more eloquent and informed film do it for me.

    I won't give away the entire film, because it is absolutely well worth a watch, so just find a way to see it! If you can support their cause, especially the fight by Katheryn, Chrissie, and others to push for the return of the women's Tour, read about it and take action! They have pushed enough to successfully get a one-day show at the 2014 Tour De France called La Tour Entier, and they need the help and support of everyone to keep building momentum towards change. It was a great film, and so great to watch with a pack of awesome female cyclists and those that support them. Thanks everyone for coming out!

   Overall, when I factor in my 5% earned on ticket sales I'm donating, as well as the raffle donations and promised online donations, we made about $100 for Austin Pets Alive last night! Thanks for your help and support!


Don't forget about my Reason 2 Race! Help out pets in need!

This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallasthe Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!

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