Brian Lopes

Mountain Biking

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March Edition

Words to Infamy

Brian Lopes
  • "The women racers are what is holding our courses back"
  • "I don't think it is fair that the girls get paid the same as the guys when there is third the number of girls...whose fastest qualifying time couldn't beat the slowest qualifying man"
         -- Brian Lopes (Mountain Bike Action mag March 2002 interview)

What's wrong with those 2 statements? HUGE !!!! BIG TIME HUGE !!!

I just bought my copy of MBAction's March issue (my fav mag) and started reading an interview on Brian. To those yet unfamiliar to the name, Brian Lopes is a 'former BMX-champion-turned-mountain-bike-racer who also won the World Cup Dual Series'. I've long admired this fellow and felt that he has made a significant contribution to mountain biking. It was with excitement that I started reading the interview. It was going well until he uttered those 2 lines that I hope will haunt him 'til his remaining years as mountain biking's tarnished icon.

I can understand when he said the promoters can't build a course to his specs because 'the girls can't ride them'. But when he started putting the blame on the women, my jaw just fell. I have an idea...why don't we just ban all female riders altogether in order to please Brian? Better yet, why don't we cap the top prize for female winners not to exceed a third of the men's? Music to your ears, Brian? In the same way he respects his own limits, why can't he respect the fact that gender also has its own uniqueness?

You might be wondering where I'm coming from all this. Two things:

  • I had been riding mountain bikes for 7 years now competing in local club races and have developed this site purely for the love of the sport. I can't wait until my 2 daughters are old enough to ride the trails with me...perhaps even take the sport to a more competitive level. But thanks to Brian, it may not be a level playing field for women riders when they get old enough to compete.
  • Secondly, mountain biking as a sport has grown to what it has become in part due to increased participation of the female riders. Gallant bike companies like Specialized and Gary Fisher have welcomed that growth and have developed gender-specific mountain bikes to accommodate our female brethren. I know too many female riders out there who have built a good name for mountain biking and have commanded my admiration and respect. They certainly don't deserve Brian's female-bashing machismo essentially relegating women as second class citizens of the sport.

Brian Lopes, know this: as good as you are, you're not bigger than mountain biking.

That's my 2 cents' worth...but I'm just one voice among many. More importantly, let the mountain bike community hear your voice...send in your comments!

-- TheLoneRider

Here's what others have to say:

Mike MacPherson
Ottawa, Canada
( 2/10/03)
"He's a got a point. I totally agree with him. Just look at the WNBA. Would you fork out the same amount of money to see women play basketball? Why not lower the nets to make it easier for them? Or how about a female NHL? This is not a gender issue, it is a supply and demand issue. I want to see the best riders on the best courses. If a woman can go as fast on the same course than I would want to watch her ride. It is about the riding, not whether or not it's a man or a woman doing the riding.
Get off your soapbox and go for a ride. It sounds like you need to prioritize."
Jr. Miller "I agree with his sentiments. The Women should have their own thing where dual slalom is concerned. They are holding the sport back strictly because in general, they are physically weaker than most men. But I for one happen to like watching them race, just not along-side, men.."
Steve Jackson "Although what he said about women holding back the progress of DH and DS mountain biking courses may not be popular or "politically correct" he is in fact dead on." more >
Michael Fazackerley
Peterborough, Canada
"In one respect I do agree with Brian somewhat...but to say that women are holding back the sport is asinine." more >

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