With another race season already upon us, the Southeast Women's Cycling (SEW) Series is once again gearing up to give women's racing a boost in the southeastern portion of the United States.
Created by professional rider, Leigh Hopkins, SEW is a grassroots effort to grow the sport of women's cycling by providing an environment that is both challenging and fun. By working directly with promoters to increase their prize purses, SEW participants are in turn provided with a competitive platform to showcase their strengths as well as the unquestionable merits of women’s cycling.
Since its inception in 2008, the series has shown some remarkable growth. Unique participants in the racing series numbered 155 this past year, representing more than a three-fold increase. But perhaps more important than the total number of participants was the unprecedented turnout at the Cat 4, or beginner’s level.
The future of any sport, especially women’s cycling, is rooted in building, nurturing, and expanding its base. During its first year, a total of 12 Cat 4 riders rolled to the start line in Southeastern Women’s Cycling Series races. In 2009, the number of riders in the beginner’s category increased to an astounding 67.
Feeding The Need
With interest peaked and participation increased, the future of SEW is certainly bright, but it is also a tenuous one. The success of SEW will depend greatly upon its sustainability and growth.
Since those new to the sport often benefit from incentives to follow a race series, SEW is focused on providing prizes to the overall winners in each category, with the more "sought-after" prizes being allocated to the newer Category 3 and 4 riders, in 2010.
Presently, SEW is seeking the following prize items for the overall series winners:
• (1) Complete bicycle and/or frameset to the Cat 4 series winner
• (1) Wheelset to the Cat 3 series winner
• (1) Bike/travel bag to the Cat 1/2 series winner
• Saddles, components, bars, clothing, water bottles, etc. to use as prizes for the top 3 finishers overall in the race series
Beyond The Podium
While product is wonderful, title sponsorship of the Southeast Women's Cycling Series would truly make a lasting impact on women’s cycling. With a newly confirmed, yet unnamed title sponsor SEW can now look beyond the racing aspect of cycling and into establishing programs that will encourage participation. Resources from the title sponsor will be allocated to several programs, each offering something unique for female racers in the southeast, including:
• Travel Grants – to be allocated to an individual or groups of riders to travel to races (for all racing levels, putting the all-important social aspect back into the racing scene, and making newer riders feel comfortable interacting with more experienced riders)
• Camps - hosting an all-female road camp for Cat 3/4 riders, and/or beginner's clinic at the Dick Lane Velodrome
• Race Specific Grants - to be allocated for master's, elite, or junior racers, who could not otherwise afford to go road/criterium nationals
• Licenses - purchasing a number of one-day licenses for first-time racers at a SEW event
For details on how you can contribute to the Southeast Women’s Cycling Series — a grassroots movement for women, by women — contact Leigh Hopkins at 404-695-0371.