VeloNews Readers Don’t Give a Sh!# About Women’s Cycling?

At least that’s what one reader would have you believe. Check out this letter to the editor from a few weeks back:

In which we successfully trick another reader


I don’t mean to be a jerk or a sexist — but I’m sure going to sound like one here. Generally no one really cares about women’s road racing results or news, certainly when it’s lumped into overall headlines.

Today I read a headline “Evans triumphant in New Zealand.” Excitedly I clicked on the link thinking I would see an article about reigning world champion Cadel Evans’ early season form. Instead it was an article about Shelley Evans.

Stop trying to trick me into clicking on articles about women’s cycling and stop putting women’s cycling news in your overall road headlines. Trust me, your target audience doesn’t particularly care.

At the top of your main page, just make a separate link (WOMEN’S) for the few people who care to read up on women’s cycling news.

David Wade

David, thanks for playing. We’ll be sending you a catcher’s mask, a Shock Doctor BasiX Compression Short with Flex Cup and an application for the federal witness protection program. — Editor

Aside from the fact that Mr. Wade is clearly both a jerk and sexist (and so boring/unimportant that I don’t think we need to waste anymore words talking about him, though I do applaud him for not sending this anonymously.) I find two things particularly interesting about this letter.

  1. Mr. Wade’s impetus for writing it. Ostensibly, his motivation for sending the letter came from his feeling of being “tricked” by VeloNews into “wasting a click”. The horror! An entire click wasted!  (Which is to say, this isn’t a reason at all – it’s a flimsy excuse to be able to send a letter he’s been meaning to write for a long time.)
  2. The fact that this letter to the editor was selected to be published. I appreciate the humorous retort from the editor which implies that Mr. Wade’s comments are worthy of vitriol and attack : ). I can think of a couple reasons to publish it: Controversy. I’m writing this blog post, right? There’s a string of comments following the mailbag post.  Let’s face it, controversy is good for traffic. I’m fine with that. But why else? Why give this asshole a voice in the first place? To provide a forum for debate? A place for this conversation to happen? A place to air dirty laundry?

I applaud VeloNews for publishing the article and getting this issue out into the open (and exposing the imbecile behind it). I also applaud their coverage of Shelley Evans in New Zealand (the article in question) and the recently increased coverage of women’s cycling. But part of me can’t help but wonder why they would even give David Wade the pleasure of seeing his words on the glowing VeloNews website.

You all are a smart, opinionated lot. What’s your take?

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  1. “Let (him) stand undisturbed as a monument of the safety with which error of opinion may be
    tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

  2. I agree in principle, but not because it’s a woman but because she has the same name as the current world champion. My first thought was ‘what is Cadel doing in NZ he was in Europe yesterday’. The Tour of NZ, is it even a UCI event? Put their first name in Shelley or Cadel, problem solved.

  3. My take is that the retort, while clever, doesn’t take away the damage of publishing the letter.

    A little media ethics: does this do more harm than good to the public? Then again, it’s a magazine and they care about sales above all else. Controversy sells, as you stated. But I highly doubt that letter to the editor will help sell anything. It might keep David Wade subscribing once he saw his name in Velonews. Ew. (Oh, and Velonews really doesn’t give a crap, IMO. It’s infuriating sometimes.)

  4. I kind of feel like they published it to out this jerk. Not the best choice by Velonews, so I am conflicted. I don’t get this guy because I check the results of Amy D., Alison D. and Katie Compton after every cross race. He’s pretty much a jackass IMO. I’m more of a cross fan than road, but not knowing any of the women road racers and knowing a few of the men probably speaks volumes about the amount coverage women get.

  5. Justin Benson

    It’s an odd question that you’re posing. In essence are you saying it comes down to: “Women’s cycling is more damaged by publicly acknowledging the existence of this mentality and discussing it vs covering it up and sweeping it under the rug?”

    David Wade is obnoxious to be sure. What we do know is that he thinks his time is so precious that he hates to inadvertently click on a link. Ironically, it’s not so precious that he didn’t write a letter to the editor complaining. So he’s a jerk.

    But I don’t see the sexism here unless we all know what he’s saying is false. Saying “Women shouldn’t run a company because they’re less qualified than a man” is sexist. Saying “The strongest man can bench press more than the strongest woman” is just a fact.

    So if our obnoxious friend is indeed right that “your target audience doesn’t care” about women’s cycling then he’s not being sexist. Only if he’s wrong – and knowingly wrong – then is he being sexist. He can’t also really be hurting women’s cycling if he’s stating a true fact. If it’s true then women’s cycling is already in that bad place.

    To summarize, if knowingly false he’s sexist. If true then we’re just shooting the messenger. If true then the only answer is to get it out there and tackle the problem head on.

    FYI the first time I really *cared* about female cycling was that wonderful story about the Cyclocross rider who fell on the final curve (Molly?). That photo was amazing. Who couldn’t relate to the humanity of that shot. So I think the stories are there. Less about the sex and more about the universal humanity of suffering on a bike.

  6. I guess this person was mistaking Kristin Armstrong with somebody else too…

    Last time I read, is the home of Competitive Cycling not Men’s Competitive Cycling.

  7. You’re right – it’s an interesting question, which is why I posed it as one instead of making a statement. I’m honestly not sure which is the answer.

    You’ve correctly pointed out that Mr. Wade makes a statement about the readership of VeloNews that cannot necessarily be proven true or false at this time.

    I can only assume that mr. wade is extrapolating his own experience/opinion to make this sweeping statement (which is really bad social-science).

    Or maybe he’s done some extensive market research I don’t know about… who knows?

    There are a lot of amazing stories from both male and female pelotons that will tug at you the way Molly’s did, that’s true. They’re everywhere and have been for a long time.

    Those stories existing and making sure that they get told are two very different things.

  8. I love women’s racing as much as the mens but I’m pretty sure the same thing happened when Kristen Armstrong was winning big events the past few summers, including the Olympic Gold in TT. I recall seeing “Armstrong wins Gold” on a cycling news site and quickly clicking thinking “Did Lance even race that?” Then I realized it was Kristen, who I am also a fan of, so I was ok with it, but I knew others might be flipping out over the virtual bait-and-switch.

    Clearly, this letter to the editor guy is a total ass, but he might be complaining more to Velonews for having what may seem like a misleading headline. For instance, if there was a junior racer named Bobby Trebon that raced cyclocross, you wouldn’t run a headline in the cyclocross section saying “Trebon out for season with broken wrist” without misleading some of your readers and freaking them out a little bit.

    If the editors of Velonews used full names for riders that shared surnames with the pro peleton, I think this wouldn’t be a problem. But again, dude that wrote the letter is a jerk that doesn’t really appreciate racing in its purest form.

  9. Justin Benson

    If Velonews has any decent type of web analytics software (which they must) they’ll know what % of viewers review strictly women’s based content. So do we ask them to substantiate or refute this guys’ allegations based on data?

  10. I was thinking the same thing, Justin. They probably won’t tell us, but it would be worth asking. My assumption is that, as a business, they wouldn’t be covering women’s cycling if there wasn’t a business case to do so. But we both know about assuming things…

  11. Matt – good points about confusing/misleading headlines and, though I still think there’s a deeper issue to discuss here, I agree that they could/should provide the kind of headlines that lead readers to the content they expect.

  12. I saw that a few days back and my first thought was that someone was being an ass. Then I remembered that this is written word and not spoken word, and its pretty much impossible to tell what tone someone is writing in, especially when it is on a topic or opinion we feel strongly about. Typically we read things in the worst “voice” possible because we don’t have the vocal inflection to rely on.

    At this point I’m going to go with the theory that the writer in question was trying to be sarcastic and/or ironic. Two things that often don’t translate well in a written format especially when you don’t know the writer.

  13. Having a hard time figuring out how sarcasm changes the statement: “stop putting women’s cycling news in your overall road headlines. Trust me, your target audience doesn’t particularly care.”

    But I appreciate your “benefit of the doubt” approach.

  14. Some people are just stupid. Like this guy.

  15. What a douche bag.

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