A second event was created due to popular demand featuring more adventurous sports called Radical Reels. Taking place in September, this will be the third year for this event, but the event is gaining popularity.
“We do what we have to because we love our sport,” she says.
It was this reality that inspired Bertine to write and direct her film Half the Road, which documents the disparity between men and women in the professional sport of cycling. The film, featuring numerous interviews with female riders, fans, cycling administrators and even actor Patrick Dempsey, was shown last weekend at the Byrd Theatre as a part of the Richmond International Film Festival. (To read more about the festival, see Harry Kollatz Jr.'s interview with its founder, Heather Waters.
Bertine’s film seems apropos for the here and now, as the Richmond region builds momentum toward two major cycling events this year and next. It calls attention to the fact that professional women’s cycling has yet to fully share the spotlight — meaning money, sponsorship and media coverage — that already shines on the men’s elite level.
“My ultimate goal is that 20 years from now someone can watch a movie like Half the Road and think ‘Wow, they had to make a movie about equality in women’s sports?’ ” Bertine says. Take a look at the trailer:
When Richmond hosts the UCI World Road Cycling Championships in September 2015, Bertine and other pro women cyclists hope that will change significantly. For starters, having the Worlds in the United States will help to publicize professional cycling to American audiences, as it is not as popular or as publicized as it is in Europe.
“I think that it can create a platform to show that cycling in the U.S. has terrific venues, a great fan base and good understanding of what it takes to put on a high-level event,” she says.
The UCI World Road Cycling Championships is one of the legs of cycling’s Triple Crown, along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. Next year, an estimated 1,500 male and female athletes will compete for nine days in 12 races throughout the region, cheered on by the support of the 450,000 fans expected to flock to the event. The United States has not hosted the world championships since 1986, when it was held in Colorado Springs, Colo.
This May, Richmond also will host the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals to test out the courses and to allow officials to see the impact of the massive numbers of fans and make adjustments.
Professional rider Andrea Dvorak, who lives in Crozet and has ridden on the U.S. women’s team, says that for women cyclists, the world championships event is “as big as it gets” and American cycling fans will get to see the U.S. women’s cyclists as they continue to rise on the competitive horizon.
In recent years, Dvorak says, “we've won big races. We had an American win the Giro D'Italia twice in the last three years. Another American won the biggest race on the World Cup circuit, La Flèche Wallone [in Belgium], so we're making a name for ourselves. And I think we have a really good chance to make the podium, if not win in Richmond. … I don't know if an American female has ever made the podium."
Bertine says that when she speaks to people on the street and tells them she is a professional cyclist, one of their first couple questions is usually, “Have you raced in the Tour de France?” Most people, she notes, do not realize the Tour de France has not traditionally included an accompanying women’s race for years. However, in July 2013, Bertine, joined by Olympic and world champion cyclists Emma Pooley and Marianne Vos and four-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion Chrissie Wellington, appealed to the Amaury Sport Organisation, which organizes the Tour de France. As a result of their efforts, a one-day women’s race will now be included in this year’s Tour de France.
Giving professional women’s cycling equal attention and support is not only the right thing to do, Bertine says, it's the smart thing to do because women’s cycling is just a lucrative as the men’s sport. “If our society already thinks we are equal, then why are we not seeing that in sports and multimedia coverage?”
Pro women’s cycling has been caught in a vicious cycle, she adds, because media outlets treat the women’s half of the sport as if there is not enough interest to broadcast it, and viewers never see enough to be aware of it.
Also, she notes that pro women cyclists earn substantially less prize money than their male counterparts and their races are typically shorter. There are fewer races held for female professional cyclists compared to men’s racing schedule as well.
According to Bertine, while male professional cyclists can expect a base pay of $29,000 a year, there is no base pay for the female athletes. Among U.S. professional female racers, she says, a majority of them earn below $10,000 a year — and 50 percent of women’s riders earn less than $3,000 annually — requiring many of these athletes to rely on spousal support or to work two, or even three, other jobs to make a living, she says.
Bertine loves the Richmond courses, and she describes the cobblestone switchback portion on Libby Hill as bringing a section of Belgium to Richmond. She also praises the kindness, hospitality and community involvement of Richmond 2015, the organizing committee of the event.
“The hospitality of Virginia and of the committee will make it easier for riders to have the easiest possible experience in terms of logistics,” she says.
Bertine hopes to compete in Richmond in 2015, which would be her seventh time competing at the world championships.
“I think Richmond truly understands the value of women in sports, and they will highlight the value of women’s equal to men’s events. I think U.S. society is also in a place where they are accepting of women’s sports. I expect the fans to be out and in full force for both the men’s and women’s racers in Richmond.”
“We currently have more American women and men racing at the top levels of professional cycling than we’ve ever had before.”
Starting next week, Richmond 2015 will hold a series of local events to discuss details of both Championship events. The schedule is as follows:
Tuesday, March 4, at Hanover Tavern, 13181 Hanover Court House Road, 6.30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 5, Richmond's Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St., 6:30 pm
Thursday, March 6, John Rolfe Middle School, 6901 Messer Road in Henrico, 6:30 pm
Monday, March 10, Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center, 2880 Mountain Road, 6:30 pm
Tuesday, March 11, Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., 6:30 pm
Wednesday, March 12,WCVE, 23 Sesame St., 6:30 pm
During an announcement at Richmond CenterStage’s Rhythm Hall this morning, Steven Smith, the symphony’s music director, said that Bell will play one of his signature performance pieces, the Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor by Max Bruch, along with Bedrich Smetana’s symphonic poem Vltava and Ottorino Respighi’s Fontane di Roma (Fountains of Rome) and Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome). Smith recalls hearing Bell play as a fellow student at the Eastman School of Music and thinking that “even as a student, this guy was going somewhere.” Smith also says that he first heard No BS! Brass Band perform at the Richmond Folk Festival. “As soon as I heard them, I was completely blown away.”
While we’re talking about Bell, I have to point out a memorable experiment and article by The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten in 2007, when a casually dressed Bell played six classical pieces during morning rush hour at a D.C. metro stop unbeknownst to passers-by. The question being explored was, “In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” Take a look at how it played out:
Among other highlights, for a performance of the works of Duke Ellington on Feb. 14, 2015, the symphony will be joined by the One Voice Chorus, the chorus of St. Paul’s Baptist Church and the Richmond Symphony Chorus. “In my mind, he’s one of the greatest American composers,” Smith says of Ellington.
The Altria Masterworks series will also Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Oct. 18-19); Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, along with Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, accompanied by Richard King, principal horn player with the Cleveland Orchestra (Nov. 8); and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor with acclaimed guest pianist Adam Golka (Jan. 17-18, 2015); Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor with guest conductor Tito Muñoz, music director of the Phoenix Symphony, and Ukrainian-born pianist Stanislav Khristenko, winner of the 2013 Cleveland International Piano Competition (March 7, 2015); and the premiere of a Richmond Symphony-commissioned work by Benjamin Broening, chair of the University of Richmond’s Music Department, alongside works by Elgar and Sibelius (April 18-19, 2015).
The symphony is also planning a second edition of "Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" (May 16, 2015, at the recently renamed Altria Theater, formerly the Landmark and the Mosque), and a Genworth Symphony Pops concert featuring the music of ABBA (Sept. 27, 2014). “It’s important to look for ways to interact with different audiences,” Smith says.
Other highlights include a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, on Jan. 27, 2015, in partnership with the Virginia Holocaust Museum and the Weinstein JCC, and a concluding event for the Virginia Sesquicentennial observances on May 25, 2015 — a musical exploration of the Civil War. As symphony Executive Director David Fisk says, “It is through music that we can inspire and unite our community.”
Started by New Community parents as a fundraiser in lieu of an auction, the READ art show raises money for financial aid and other school programs. New Community is a college preparatory private school for students with dyslexia and other learning differences.
“It really connected with parents because our students are super creative,” says April Edelton of New Community’s development office. “This is where their strengths lie, and we liked the idea of promoting the arts in this way.”
The show features more than 80 local and regional artists. “It’s mostly hangable art, but we also have some pottery and three-dimensional pieces,” Edelton says.
On Friday, there will be a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. featuring live music and refreshments, with all the art on display and for sale. Tickets to this reception are $40 in advance, and $45 at the door. For those who are eager to see the art early, or who wish to contribute more to the school, there is a preview at 6 p.m. Tickets to this event are $125 for two. On Saturday, the show is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with select markdowns at 2 p.m.