Over the course of the 2022-2023 Track Season, our staff was approached by a few participants who stated they were interested in the idea of having combined, ability-based categories for the 2023-2024 Track Season where those of all genders would race together. Due to this expressed interest, Ontario Cycling considered eliminating specific gender categories (outside of beginner women) in order to create and promote a more inclusive racing experience. To determine if this would truly improve the event experience for our Track members, we created a ten-question survey on the topic. Those who participated in the 2022-2023 OCup Track series in categories C, D, E, A Women, and B Women were asked to complete a survey regarding last season’s category format and if they would prefer a combined, ability-based category format.
It was found that a majority of Track participants want to keep the current Track categories format of A, B, C, D, E, A Women, and B Women. Many respondents reasoned that with this current format, there is less risk and worry about safety, it is very empowering to race against other women, and that it is a good preparation opportunity due to Provincials and Nationals also using gendered categories.
Therefore, instead of changing the category format, Ontario Cycling is committed to increasing promotion and understanding that categories A-E are not solely men’s categories. Men and Women are allowed to race in categories A-E, while only women are allowed to race in A Women and B Women. Better knowledge of the categories and who they are available to will allow women who enjoy racing other women the opportunity to continue doing so in an environment in which they feel safe and comfortable, while also allowing the women who do not feel challenged in their current category, to race in ones they feel better match their skills and ability.