It was very quiet on this blog for a long time. On the one hand, because I have done many races myself, on the other hand, because the task of summarising my survey with almost 400 participants seemed like a huge chunk. This brings us straight to the heart of the matter: apparently, to this day, many women find starting their first road bike race a challenge that is difficult to overcome.

Table of content

Not made of sugar: women can score points even or especially on the ultra distance! Captured by Daniel Willinger at the Race Around Austria


Why am I writing this article at all? Up until today, many road cycling events have been dominated by men. At the same time, the boom in women’s road cycling, especially since the 1st Corona wave, cannot be overlooked. While in similar sports, such as running events or triathlons, there is hardly such a remarkable gender split among the starters, amateur cycling lags behind. It’s kind of a pity, because many organisers are trying to grow their events while they only target a certain group of cyclists with their marketing: male cyclists. While some events might already very crowded with long waiting lists – like Ötztaler Radmarathon or King of the Lake – targeting new starters isn’t a goal for every organiser. But a lot of races simply have a local target group which would grow quickly if local cyclists from all genders feel welcomed. And on the other hand, there are events which don’t take place at a certain place or date – like many Orbit360 events – and therefore can grow a lot by marketing to all cyclists.

Yes, there are also massive things wrong in the professional sector. Be it the lack of live coverage, the consistently male commentators, or the fact that there are hardly any comparable races for women as there are for men… The list could go on and on, and there is already good reading on the subject by experts. In the survey on which the blog post is based, as well as in the following text, I explicitly refer to amateur events.

Speaking of amateurs (or amateur:ins): did you know that there is still no amateur licence for women in Austria? Women, between junior and masters, can only compete with an elite licence. So, as a woman between 23 and 30, who started cycling during Corona, for example, you compete in many races against the women who fight for the first places at the Austrian Championships. It is relatively clear that this is not particularly conducive to the development of female cycling in Austria. And with an elite licence you are not allowed to race in the classification at some “Jedermann” races in Germany or other neighbouring countries.

Full of motivation just before the start: Stella, Julia and me at a VICC Race Day 2021, captured by Martin Granadia /


The survey I shared via Instagram and women’s specific cycling groups is a simple Google survey. It has no scientific background, structure or anything else. I don’t think this makes the results any less informative for potential starters, riders and organisers, but it should be said.

Personally, it is also important to me to say that this is not a “The organisers are mean and don’t want any women” blog, quite the opposite. On the one hand, it is meant to be one of many resources that contribute to a balanced field of starters, but it may also provide some answers to unanswered questions or even a few “aha” moments! Just as little should this article discourage a potential female starter from registering for a race because “there are only men at the start anyway”. Don’t worry, we female starters are looking forward to meeting you and will always be at your side with an open ear – and with tips and tricks if you like.

Last but not least, I would like to say that I have been working full-time in communication and marketing for various companies for almost 9 years. I have also spent many years specifically in event management and have also completed a diploma in online marketing and event management. And then there is this huge racing bike account, which is one of the most successful in the DACH region. So I may add my subject-specific comments to the individual results, because I simply have a certain expertise.

The results

First of all, the demographics: 396 women and 2 participants who identify with a different gender took part in the survey. In addition, a handful of men whose answers I have hidden 😉 Most of the participants, almost 46%, are between 20 and 30 years old, i.e. exactly the age at which only an elite licence (or a BikeCard) is available in Austria.

232 of the participants, well over half, had never competed in a road bike race before. This is relevant insofar as it shows that the hurdle for the first start seems particularly high. I can’t remember a starter saying after a nice and challenging race: “Phew, so bike racing, it’s not for me at all.” The answers in the survey confirm this personal feeling at least in part.

“If you haven’t competed in a race before, why?”

The biggest hurdle is, I think, not very gender-specific: 36% do not consider themselves fit enough to start a race. This is closely followed by participants who have started cycling since March 2020 and have not yet dared to start due to the uncertainty of whether a race will even take place.

In my opinion, these are two points that organisers can really consider in their race communication. Best practices are provided by the Women’s Race, for example, where participants of all abilities feel well taken care of, or the Ultra Rad Challenge, which offers every distance from 3 to 24 hours for every level, rider profile and gender. It is also important to be open(er) about postponements and cancellation policies. I am well aware that many organisers are simply not in a position to refund the full race fee due to running costs should the event not be possible or the competitor not be able to participate due to a positive Corona test. However, it is much worse for participants to be informed only in small marginal notes or after the fact and have no idea what will happen next. Instead, it is advisable to actively include alternative dates, cancellation policies and insurance policies in the communication. Only in this way do “we athletes” know what is going on – and often have a great understanding for the organiser!

These two points are followed by “I cycle for myself and have no interest in such events” and a general feeling of discomfort with races and events. Again, these are presumably less gender-specific characters in the racing cycling world. After all, we all know enough people who don’t like any kind of racing character at all, or who generally avoided larger happenings as much as possible, even before the pandemic. Possible reactions in communication, however, can be to focus on other advantages of the race (for example, closed roads or a particularly nice festival) instead of only on the victory to panting riders and the 3-hour-long award ceremony with warm beer in the stinking tent.

It is noteworthy that the often still unequally divided care work is not a major obstacle for women to participate in races.

“What requirements does a race have to have for you to compete as a woman?”

The result is quite clear. Ex aequo in first place are “the same age groups for men as for women” and the appropriate infrastructure. For me, as a young woman, it is absolutely absurd that the first has to be discussed at all today, and every organiser should be able to implement this immediately. The 5 Euro production costs for another medal should just about pay off.

Personally, I also find it very annoying to wait at award ceremonies – to exaggerate 🙄 – for men over 40 with a birthmark, men over 40 without and men over 40 with a slight receding hairline to get their 5 minutes of fame. Followed immediately, of course, by the over 50, 60, 70, 80 and – respect! – 90… Especially when the women have to get by with “under 20”, “elite” and “just the older ones”. Taking a closer look at the female anatomy, it is relatively clear that at least the same performance classes are needed here as for men, after all, many of us go through one or more births and almost all of us go through the change. For many young women my age, as well as older ones, this simply makes it unattractive to compete, especially in events that are primarily about the podium.

The desire for the same prize (money) as well as a separate women’s start came a very close second. Both can be achieved without much effort. While the same price is largely usus today, at least in the amateur sector (we all “only” get a barrel of beer or wine 🥰), the mixed start is still a big issue. After all, getting caught up in the hustle and bustle at the first race start is certainly a bit scary, especially if you don’t want to make an ass of yourself in front of the gentlemen. On the other hand, the joint start and the “pulling through” of individual women creates a massive barrier for those women who do not yet have the network of a team “assigned” to them. Whether the procedure is generally fair or unfair is really too much to say at this point.

“What makes a road cycling event attractive to you?”

Here it is quite clear that the most important factor is direct reference persons in one’s own environment. Once again, the role of Facebook groups, clubs and friends is coming into focus! Those who can score points with the existing participants with quality and fun will grow as organisers – see Kind of the Lake!

This is followed by the communication of the organisers, for example via social media or the website. I think especially those young adults who started cycling during Corona don’t feel picked up at all by the nineties village festival character on the website and the like. Of course, social media and the web presence have been an intern’s job for many organisers, like in so many other companies. But especially in the last two years, when many physical advertising platforms for registrations have completely disappeared, this task now belongs in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing.

Part of it are other people on social media, like me, for example. People who show that it’s fun and that you can do it are a help especially when you don’t have anyone in your immediate environment who can relate to the topic. There is no other explanation for the boom in Facebook groups!

The least important thing for the women interviewed is that some famous ex-professional or star vintner takes part in the event. This poses a challenge for the organisers in that many communication concepts have so far been based on these people. Sorry. 😋

“As a woman, which incentive would make you more likely to start a race?”

First of all, yes, the pink give-aways were a joke. 😉

The most important point for more female starters should actually no longer be an “incentive” in 2022: that as a woman you are also allowed to start and be scored on all distances. It was only a few years ago that I had to declare a different gender in order to start on the “long” distance (about 150km) of a cycling marathon in a state capital. Due to the pandemic, this has not taken place since. It is also not a question of “either women start or all distances” – dear organisers, please just do your job, we pay a lot of money for this.

The second point is that women are also shown in communication. If I see only men on the website where I am supposed to register, as well as on social media, I firmly assume that it is a race where I am not welcome as a woman. This should also be easy to implement for everyone.

However, lower entry fees for women, pre-registration or pink accessories are not very popular, at least with the participants of this survey.

At the RAD RACE over the Alps & Dolomites, captured by Björn Reschabek

Was sagen die Veranstalter:innen von Events und Rennen dazu?

Ultra Rad Challenge (Styria)

The Ultra Rad Challenge is the biggest cycling event in Styria with four competitions over 3h/6h/12h/24h. Over a circuit of about 18 kilometres, as many kilometres as possible have to be collected either solo or in a team. The URC is characterised by a great atmosphere along the course with various biker festivities as well as in the start-finish area with an atmospheric supporting programme.

How is the gender split with you at the moment? How has it developed in the last few years?

2017: 544 m and 76 f
2018: 702 and 86 f
2019: 801 m and 142 f
2020 (Corona-Edition): 590 m and 108 f
Women’s participation in our event has increased!

Have you seen the need for concrete measures for women at the races? What are your experiences with this?

Especially in the organisation for the 2021 edition of the URC, we have started to create very concrete measures for female participants. Already last year, we paid attention on the social media channels to put more focus on women and to create a balanced ratio in the picture material. We are focusing on this even more this year. 
In addition, we have aligned the team categories this year. In previous years, for example, we only had the 2-10 team category over 24 hours. This year there will be a 2, 4 and 10 team category, just like in the men’s race. 
This year we will also conduct the starts in blocks depending on the category in order to guarantee a fairer race and also to defuse the start situation and make it safer. This also means that there will be a separate women’s starting block. 
Furthermore, we will organise a ladies-only cycling camp at the beginning of June where we want to raise awareness of the URC and give the ladies an insight into racing. We will have a look at the URC circuit, a question and answer session, watch the event trailer and there will be a voucher for a reduced entry fee for the participants of the camp. Of course, there will also be an extensive social programme, which should be fun for the participants, inspire them and motivate them to continue cycling.

 What do you hope for in terms of female participants in the next 5 years?

We are noticing an ever-increasing popularity for our event, especially among women. And we want to promote this and respond even better to the needs of women at such a racing event. We also want to increase the visibility of women at such racing events. It would be great to increase the proportion of women and get as close as possible to a 50:50 ratio of participants.

Impression of the Female Cycling Basecamp, on the way to Pöllauer Berg

King of the Lake (Oberösterreich)

The ASVÖ King of the Lake is Europe’s biggest time trial. On 18 September 2022, it’s all happening again at Lake Attersee – the ASVÖ King of the Lake is entering its 12th round. The lakeside road around the idyllic Attersee, which is completely closed to traffic, provides a “tour” feeling for everyone. In addition to the individual starters, teams of 4 and 10 will once again tackle the 47.2 kilometres around the lake.

How is the gender split with you at the moment?

In 2020, according to the “King” results list, the split was 586 men and 75 women. In terms of those interested (i.e. those who registered), we were 89.4% male and 10.6% female interested in singles. (By comparison, in 2018 it was 9.2% female interested. That means we also had a (slight) increase over the last years). In terms of teams, we had 124 teams, of which 75% were all-male, 8.1% all-female and 16.9% in the mixed classification (21 mixed, 93 men’s and 10 women’s teams).

What has been the development in recent years?

This has actually tended to stagnate, with slight increases in each case.  

Did you see the need to put concrete measures in place for women at the races?

Actually not, because interested women have registered without us having to take concrete measures, or the ladies also register precisely because of the concept of the KOTL. A few years ago, there was a final race of a women’s series within the framework of the KOTL, so a stage was offered here especially for the women and an attempt was made to push in this direction. In principle, the KOTL is neutral. If the starters were there, we would also be prepared to support concrete measures such as a separate class (elite or women’s U23).

What do you hope for in terms of female participants in the next 5 years?

We hope that the share will increase continuously, the goal would be a share of 20% ladies.

Time trials are the perfect introduction to bike racing because you’re not riding in a big pack. Captured by Sportograf


Orbit360 – the so-called outerspace cycling challenge – was created in 2020 as an alternative race format due to numerous cancellations of other (ultra) cycling events. In the Gravel Series, participants have the opportunity to ride our orbits (18 routes throughout Germany) within a set time window and collect points. In 2021, the Gravel Series was expanded to include two more events: In March, almost 900 riders got on the saddle to ride a specially created 180km or 360km route for a good cause. The grand finale, the Orbit 360 Bike Festival, took place from 19-22 August 2020, where all participants come together in a relaxed campfire atmosphere.

How is the gender split with you at the moment? How has it developed in the last few years?

Social media and participation in events currently at 80/20 men/women

Have you seen the need for concrete measures for women at the races? What are your experiences with this?

Sure, already implemented:

– First year scouting team replaced and you guys brought on board.

– Visibility on social media is now 50:50 man:woman.

– Support for Bikeygees e.V., which teaches (refugee) women how to ride a bike.

– Strong consideration of women in the komoot best-off collection

In planning for the coming season:

A dedicated hashtag in addition to #letsorbit in the style of: #womenfororbit #letsfemaliseorbit #womenongravel 

Own podcast episode with Johanna on the topic of women in cycling and on the Orbits – motto: #FEMPOWERMENT

Highlights on Insta for the women hashtags and for women routes

Every woman who brings (recruits) a woman gets a Komoot voucher

Define goals – by 2021 so and so many women routes. – Or by the end of the Orbit series, so and so many women should have ridden. Or women in the top 10

Motto for getting women on board with Orbit can be “Not a programme, but a process making progress.”

Instagram Take-over: woman takes over the Orbit account for a day and reports on the experience, her doubts and successes.

Again, the idea of the 24h support phone: can you also call on other women to participate?! Being there for other cyclists and taking over a service/ could be solved in a cool way. However, the approach would have to ask if it’s really about women being scared on the orbits or that they just can’t relate to a) riding the routes and b) cycling?

We vote for the Super Orbiter:in for more visibility

I’ve never been to an Orbit360, but I find Raphael’s thoughts on the subject super inspiring and exciting and also like that the event concept brings the right track for every level. Their first event in 2022 just started: “Ride for a reason”, helping refugees in need! Important to know: I asked the questions at the beginning of 2021, by now I’m sure some of them have already been implemented!

Discovering your own limits and talents is not only exciting for men. Series events like Orbit 360 are optimal for all female explorers and those who are not yet old hands in the racing and gravel bike scene. Picture by Jakub Frey für Skoda

Deutschland-Tour & Eschborn Frankfurt

The two “Everyman” and “Everywoman” races are a fixed point in the year of many German racing cyclists and offer the perfect introduction – I say that from my own experience.

The Deutschland Tour is Germany’s biggest cycling festival. The four-day men’s professional race and the hands-on activities in all stage towns attract more than 500,000 visitors. The event is a true festival all about cycling and puts a special focus on the spectators. In addition to thousands of tips on route design in the run-up to the race, 5,000 participants take advantage of the Everyman Tour, the Ride Tour and the “kinder+Sport mini tour” to get involved.

The cycling classic Eschborn-Frankfurt is the most traditional cycling race in Germany. Since 1962, the cycling race on 1 May has been deeply rooted in the region. For the professionals, this day marks the end of the big spring classics in the WorldTour calendar. In addition to the pros, there is an extensive programme for everyman and everywoman as well as cyclists in the U23, junior, youth and school categories and the “kinder+Sport mini tour” . So many competitions on one day for 6,000 cyclists – no other cycling event in the world offers that.

How is the gender split with you at the moment?

Registrations Germany Tour 2021: 87% men and 13% women.
Registrations Eschborn Frankfurt 2021: 12% women and 88% men

Did you see the need to put concrete measures in place for women at the races?  

At Eschborn Frankfurt there have been no measures so far, but in 2021, for example, tips especially for women | Meet &Greet with the community | Preparation for the Everywoman Tour. These measures are already in place for the Tour of Germany in the Everywoman section.
Our experience with this has been good, we have been able to inspire many female participants for cycling and prepare them together for the ŠKODA Velotour.

What do you hope for in terms of female participants in the next 5 years? 

Significant growth of the women’s field, larger community, joint exchange and preparation for the Everyman Tour. Simply inspire women for cycling!

2018 at the start of our first road bike race with Arne
…and then, a few kilometres later, just before the finish of Eschborn Frankfurt.

As you know, the best comes at the end, so here is all the info on the VICC Race Days, organised by my club in Vienna. By the way, it’s also the only road race in the Austrian capital!

VICC Race Days

The VICC Race Days are a 6-part race series that take place at the Cyclodrom on the Danube Island and have been organised by the VICC Racing Division since 2017. The races are held as criteria. In addition to the children’s, junior and men’s races, there are also women’s races with exclusively female starters on two dates. 

How is the gender split with you at the moment? How has it developed in the last few years?

On average, there are 10% more participants at the start of women’s races compared to men’s races. Since the beginning of the race series, this has been relatively stable to slightly increasing. However, we hope to be able to continue the slight upward trend significantly after the pandemic. 

Have you seen the need for concrete measures for women at the races? What are your experiences with this?

Our goal is to create equal conditions for both women and men. To this end, the organisation of a separate women’s race, including a cup and equal categories, is an important step from our point of view. The presence of women on posters and in social media also contributes to this and we try to reach the female target group better. Planned additional promotional activities for the women’s race unfortunately fell through last year due to the many cancellations caused by the pandemic. However, we are currently organising regular rides for women on Zwift and Outdoor and have set up a regional women’s racing bike group on Facebook, which has reached more than 500 members within a few months.

What do you hope for in terms of female participants in the next 5 years?

We want to establish ourselves as one of the (currently still) few women-only races in Eastern Austria and offer a fair and safe framework for women to have fun cycling in a broad starter field. Goal: 50% of the men’s starting field in the women’s race 

Excerpts from the feedback of the participants