Fields of Joy CX (#FOJCX) is a Cyclocross venue developed and raced by Sunbury Cycling Club with very gracious support from Essendon Fields, Melbourne Aust.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014



It would seem everyone wants to see more Women racing Cyclocross. Women do. Men do. Those that race do. Those that don't race do.

We recently conducted a survey aimed at better understanding the needs of women and what more can be done to encourage women to particpate in CX.

The response was very good and the results encouraging(a summary is provided below and makes intersting reading). What became apparant is that there are a variety of reasons why women do, or do not, race.

Then the penny dropped.

FACT: Blokes like to fix things. 
REALISATION: Maybe this isn't broken. 

Whilst women's fields may be small at times, I wouldn't call them broken. The regular women racers love CX.. nothing broken there. New racers taking on a challenge and discovering the fun of CX.. nothing broken there. Women attending the Women's Development Days to skill-up and then maybe race in the future.. nothing broken there. General support for Women racing.. nothing broken there. Women telling other women how awesome CX is.. nothing broken there. Could more be done? Of course. Are women 'wrong' for not taking up CX in similar numbers to the men? No. Are women and kids an important part of the CX culture? Totally.

What should we do? My own realisation is that we need to continue to foster what people love about CX. The friendly atmosphere, the inclusiveness, the fun. Our response to Women's racing should simply be to give generously without expectation. Be welcoming. Be inclusive. Provide encouragement, and when you have done that, encourage some more. Build it and they will come.. in their own time and when they are ready.. and our commitment is that we will be waiting, ready to welcome them, when they are ready.

Going forward, our commitment is to welcome women. Welcome them. Welcome them and they will come.

Too simple really.

Anyway, here's the results. Thanks to all those who participated.
We will draw some prize packs from Treadlie Magazine from those who 'liked' the Facebook posts promoting the survey (noting that all survey respondents are anonymous)


No. of Respondents: 37

What is your gender?

What types of riding do you currently do?

Do you race bikes?

If you race, what kinds of racing do you, or have you, particpated in?

What are your favourite race formats?

What do you like about your favourite race formats?

Not so serious competition, fun, social.
Competitive nature
Short course for fun
crits are short
The test, to try and do better and have fun.
more women participate in crit racing and it becomes more
Tactics. Pain
Short enough that I can be *competitive* on less than 10 hours a week training.

I love the buzz of triathlons. Fun events and good numbers. Nearly always beachside. Recently taken to cyclocross racing. Love the atmosphere at the events (specifically dirty deads crowds). Multilap, events straight after each other so people hang around to watch, all levels

Relaxed, Fun atmosphere, welcoming and supportive people.

I like cx as it's intense and not too time consuming. It's also fun.

For the road racing, it's the endurance and tactics. Mountain bike & cyclocross are more interesting, it looks hard. Best bits are tight turn sections, riding down/over rocky bits and just hoping they don't fall off!

Relaxed All female

Fun, inviting atmosphere. Less serious vibes (in C grade at least). Challenging but not too hard. The various obstacles and technical sections. 

I love the technical challenge of off road riding, the tougher technically the better


A competitive environment but also an area where you can learn further skill

Short and fun

Mix of skills involved, variety of environments.

Tactic, fun, seeing fit people enjoy themselves

Feeling welcomed and valued as an entrant even though not going for a podium finish. Being well supported and encouraged.

great vibe, racing with others

Community spirit and companionship. I race road crits with great girlfriends and we have a tonne of fun. Mountain bike is always about how much fun everyone is having. There is no snobbery and everyone is friendly and talkative.

Cx - family friendly fun, MTB-challenge in the bush

CX is hard. It rewards both bike handling skills and fitness. It's also fun to crash which seems to happen to me occasionally. CX has a more relaxed atmosphere than other formats, maybe there could be more emphasis on further developing this so it's more of a spectacle/ entertainment rather than people racing then disapearing.

The spectators in CX racing is the best! The obstacles, technical skills and fitness required in both these racing make them a fun challenge and the welcoming nature of fellow competitors makes it an easy sport to get into.

I enjoy watching road & cyclocross races. I've only competed in cx so far and I love the personal challenge of improving my skills and fitness. I'm hoping to try racing a couple of road races in the next year.

Road racing is tactical but not technical - you don't really need any special skills to jump on a bike and race, whereas cyclocross is very technical and there are many different skills required - not saying I like one over the other as cyclocross is a real challenge which I enjoy

The social friendly aspects of the events.  

In general, what of the following do you think impacts Womens participation in Cyclocoss?

Do you have any suggestions that might encourage more women to ride/race cyclocross?

 Skills sessions & publicity as to when they are on.

More womens 'come and try' days

opportunity to hire bikes on race days: to try before you buy!

The image of bike racing is a bit about the powerful men, some girls feel like they will be run over, but it can be different than that, and it can be about having fun and competing against like sized and like minded.

come and try specific for beginners, easier course?

Have female riders promote the event. Eg via editorial or race reports on fojcx social media

Promote what's already happening in women's cross. Baby-sitting/child minding/formalise time share child minding?

Great to see so many come and try days.

Not sure as i think Cx is very accessible and i am often impressed how many women turn up compared to mtb events. I have wondered about a beginner women's race and the usual race? Or a women's race day?

It's difficult to juggle young children, children racing and partners racing - something has to give.....and it's often the mother! Personally, by the time my kids are old enough to be unsupervised, I'll feel too old and unfit to compete. It's also a very long day for families with young children.

The biggest thing stopping me is that I don't have the right kind of bike. It's hard to find small sizes of good ones... for a good price. I did just max out on my commuter. Also it looks hard, I would need to train a lot for fitness and skills.

Have cyclocross bikes to rent/hire at a race or event day to try it out. Put posters up at universities.

All female come and try Different all female races for different levels of ability/skills

More promotion of the event so that people know its happening. More information regarding cyclocross eg. That people can compete on mountain bikes and dont need a specific cx bike. Possibly give marshalls, especially those closest to the public (such as the bottom gate), flyers with information that can be given to intrigued members of the public who pull up in their cars and ask about the racing. Many people stopped and watched from their cars and came over and asked about what was going on and could possibly be enticed to race.

Maybe promotion at the junior level to encourage young riders to try CX


Make the courses less technical - log stairs might seem 'challenging' for a bloke, for chicks they are darn near impossible

Continued support and encouragement from event organisers (such as FOJCX and DDCX) has definitely encouraged myself, and in turn I have attempted to bring friends/family in as well. Perhaps a facebook group or some kind of online interaction might foster some networking and might help take away the intimidation some women feel?

Maybe an option of a 30 -40 minute race for B-grade women. However, if numbers arent there it is not a problem to be on the field at same time as elite women as the field is so spread out. Maybe some mentoring from the elite women

Can you make a FOJCX race part of the National CX series next year? Make that happen and you will get more ladies attending for sure. Right now given the FOJCX series is not connected to anything right now, the "incentive" to race is not always there (no national points/ranking at stake, etc), especially if there are other competing races (road, mtb) on the same day.

Um, not really. Come and Try seems to have allowed the chicks to learn more about the sport and gain enough confidence to enter each month. I want to come to a C&T day, but I'm scared of that, too. ;) I dig the idea Dave had about the male cheer leaders during the chicks races...! That would be hilarious.

Race promoters do a great job with skills sessions/race setup and general vibe is very encouraging/supportive but old habits re exercise/ family obligations die hard. Work on getting them early as well before the habits are set .... Go for the girls. It may take time but in years to come it could pay dividends.

I think skill development days are really important, as is strong mentorship ideally from an experienced woman. I think the biggest barrier to entry is equipment, whilst you don't "need" a dedicated cx bike - it certainly helps. Track riding at DISC does this well with bikes available for hire to try the discipline. This would be hard to implement for a club, but maybe there's a possible discussion with a certain large bike brand that sponsors the series about making some bikes available for women to ride and get a taste for the sport. On a seperate note cross promotion with CV targeting female road riders wouldn't hurt either, as would reaching out to clubs that have a developed culture of women's racing such as Hawthorn and St. Kilda.

Perhaps if there were bicycles to hire/loan on the day so that female spectators can just "give it a go".

I think the skills days that are happening are great because it gives women a chance to have a go in a low pressure environment

It's hard enough to get women racing on the road let alone on a cyclocross circuit for many of the reasons listed in the question above. For women it's about gaining skills and confidence and I think you're doing the right thing with your women's development days and having open races where you can race any type of bike.

I think if it were more of a social event that they could bring their friends too.

Do you have any comments specifically about Fields of Joy Cyclocross? 

Awesome work!

Looking forward to visiting a race day.

Great location/proximity

What I saw was too technical; blokes' power course

Great course, great location for spectators, need better location map on fojcx website, seems quite long and technical a course!

Only thanks, you guys are awesome !! and fun.

Love it so far...

It's a lot of fun and I look forward to each next event!

What a fantastic initiative. I am proud to be a member of Sunbury CC

You guys continue to be awesome.

condense the day down. To much break between events. As soon as one finshes, start the next. Kids firts then C B womens and A.

I really want to come along and do it... I just worry about not having skills and then hurting myself

i think it has been made very accessible to women. You are leading the way in this area. Well done!!

I went to a very early race, which was great. Good spectator sport. I'm sure they are coming, but permanent toilets would be nice.

I would opt out of the roller coaster if I raced!!!!! It's awesome but not for me!

Have a advert banner on the Mascoma Road fence for all the people that walked and drove by that were interested in the event.

Looks bloody hard! Both times ladies days have been on I have had other stuff on - competing demands

I feel that their promotion of womens development days is good enough but the concept of cyclocross still needs to be promoted to the wider community.

I have been to FOJCX ladies skills day and loved it but I am happy to attend mixed gender days not just ladies days as I love skills training

Awesome.. I haven't ridden there but live 50mts away.. will ride mtb soon on track to have a look see..

It's a seriously hard course that suits the pro's not people trying to get into CX

Thanks to everyone involved in putting the events (race and clinics) on. This is the first form of competitive cycling I have done, and have only been doing so since April, and I love it. Its a really great atmosphere on race days, I think one of the best aspects of the sport is the all round encouragement-especially from the side lines!

Keep up the good work - glad to see you are asking the questions

Love what Dirty Deeds and Sunbury club have done to provide training days and such great support.

its a great event, just want more ladies attending!

FOJ has a great atmosphere, but I'm terrified of entering and looking like an effing goof, falling off my bike on the obstacles and huffing and puffing up the steep pinches more than anybody else on course. I think I'm just a big fat scaredycat. ;) I think it's brilliant that you run all of the women's categories just before the A grade men - it lets us be a part of the action when there is more of a crowd and the crowd really gets behind the girls. It's great! Please don't change this... I've raced in women's grades that were on at 7:00am Sunday morning, and nobody ever showed up to watch until the mens B & C that started at 11am... It's no fun at all.

Can't wait to race it, illness and family obligations have got in the way so far but promotion/women's skill session have spiked my interest.

Thanks for organising the series! I've enjoyed racing in it so far and think that it's a really great initiative. I hope my feedback helps.

The initial skills session prior to the race season really helped me feel more comfortable with the course so that I could enjoy the race days. There is great encouragement and support of women - I really cant think of anything else you might be able to do. It's a growing sport and I'm sure female participation will grow in time. It feels good to not have to be a great cycling but still be welcome to participate.

This course is a bit frightening for me because I'm pretty new to the sport and haven never done any other bike handling/skills work before, but having opportunities to train there really helps

Having a range of licencing options is good - is there a one-race option women can come along and give one race a try? Dev days are good, although it may be worthwhile publishing all the dates well in advance so people can plan ahead. Keep your website up to date as not everyone's on facebook. Perhaps get some women to provide some testimonials/endorsements to use on your social media.

Well run event.


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