I’m new to this arena of “blogging” so figured I’d give ‘er a rip with some thoughts I have about the Grand Prix selection. With this, I can only speak to my perspective on this matter - which is a female with little ties or connections within the cycling community given how new I am to the sport. I know many athletes have their own thoughts about this so I don’t claim to have the same feelings and opinions as others that were selected or not selected.
For me, being selected into the LifeTime Grand Prix was an incredible opportunity. Even though I am new to the sport, I believe I earned this based on my results in 2021 (my first season) and because of the reasons I want to advocate for these events. I will be honest that when I applied I thought my odds were very slim. My name isn’t known within the community, I don’t have a large social media following, I have no “political pull” or connections to these events or certain sponsors. I am the underdog. What I liked about this opportunity is that you were allowed to have a voice for why you should be selected. I hope in time you will see my voice throughout this season and understand my “whys.”
For me, I was most excited to have an opportunity to race at the premiere events of the season. I was also excited to potentially have a network of people that I will meet and get to know. Being new to this sport, I still don’t have a large network and I want to build my off-road “family” that I see at races. These races give me a chance to prove myself among some of the best riders in the country and to continue to push myself to learn, especially in the mountain biking events.
Since my social media reach is limited, I am doubtful many people will read this, but I’m not writing this for reach. I am writing this because it helps me process and document my journey for those who follow along. And quite frankly, I want those people to have an inside view of where my mind is at with all of this. I foresee a lot of opinions about the series being shared in the future. And who knows, as I learn more this year there’s a good chance my opinion may even change. Don’t worry, you’ll be sure to know if it does.
Myth: Those selected to the Grand Prix will get paid a lot of money.
Here’s the truth. Only 10 of the 30 selected will get money from the $250,000 prize purse. You can read more about their scoring process here. https://www.lifetimegrandprix.com/info/
In theory you could podium at Unbound and Leadville in the same year and not get any money if you perform poorly at the other events compared to the other 30 people in the series. What about those doing LeadBoat? Maybe some people planned to race Leadville conservatively since SBT has a very good cash purse. The winner of SBT usually gets around $5K. For reference, the 10th place finisher of LifeTime Grand Prix series gets $6K. Riders 11-30th get zero.
So let’s face it. When I got selected to partake in the Lifetime Grand Prix “making money” was the farthest thing I thought this selection would do for me. If I do place in the top 10 or better I consider the money to be the cherry on top. Even the first place finisher of the Grand Prix will get $25,000! But for reference, that’s below the poverty level. None of us (even if you win) are making a living off this series. I don’t believe that’s the point either. It’s a HUGE step in the right direction however.
Myth: Those selected to the Grand Prix get free entries to these races.
This is also not true. Each rider has had to pay their own entry fees either through sponsor entry slots, sponsor reimbursement or personally paying. The total registration costs are $1,280 for the 6 events. I assume most riders will have sponsors that can pay their entry fees, but some may not. Additionally, all of these races are out of state for me, so when you factor in lodging, flights, rental cars and equipment - it REALLY adds up. So my point - these events are costing us money.
I want to be clear here too - I am not trying to complain about the cost of these events. I assume there are a lot of riders who will not pay any entry fees or lodging/travel for their races, but this is from sponsor support outside of the Grand Prix series. I am sure there are many selected who have their pick of equipment and all their expenses paid for in all their events. I’m not mad about that, this makes me happy that these athletes have that kind of support as they should! For me, I know the investment this year will be worth it if I perform well and stay true to my personal mission and values. Hopefully that means I also have that level of support and then some in the future.
Myth: Grand Prix is taking away money from Unbound and Leadville winners
My gut reaction to some of these articles was “wow, this doesn’t seem right.” But what I think needs to be highlighted is, historically speaking, Unbound and Leadville have not offered prize purses for winners in the past. As most know, if you punch a podium spot at those events you likely have more support coming your way as they are the premier races of the year. Now, I do see many complaints about how the money needs to be put into the races themselves for all athletes to compete against.
Myth: You had to be an “influencer” to be selected to Lifetime Grand Prix.
This is clearly not the truth for me personally. Let’s be honest, at the time of writing this I have a minuscule 696 followers on Instagram. I am BRAND new to this sport. Yup, still green! I haven’t spent a lot of time or energy building my social media. I’m not asking people to buy stuff. I am sharing my journey. And you know what, even though my net is small I have many who follow my journey and are inspired. These are mostly local people that know me or know of me - but the most rewarding messages are the ones of encouragement. Those telling me they are inspired by what I did this last year. THIS is why I even bother with social media. Because more people should be riding bikes. More females should be empowered to ride despite the gender disparity and be empowered to know how to change flats and operate those said bikes. I want the lady who just started cycling who can’t figure out how to change her flat on the side of the road - THAT I HAVE BEEN THERE! Better yet, let’s laugh about it then learn how and teach more newbs.
So if you feel only “influencers” got selected - this isn’t the case for me. I believe I was selected because I have a story to tell and Lifetime recognized that. I consider myself the underdog of the series and I am okay with that. I know my place. I also know I do not fully understand Lifetime’s process or the “why” for the other athletes that were selected, I can only speak to my situation.
Okay, I think that summaries a few points and hopefully provides clarity to my situation. If you want to learn more about the financial impact that my season will have on me personally, head over to the GoFundMe page that my sisters have created to see the breakdown of what a cyclist pays for competing at this level. And for full transparency, I had no desire to even create a GoFundMe - my sister created both this website AND the GoFundMe after they heard me express my honest situation and my stress of picking up more shifts and taking on a second job to meet the demands of my season. I was very hesitant to even do this, but I feel more people need to know the reality of the situation instead of assuming things when they see what’s on social media.
At the end of the day, I just wanna ride bikes, crush souls and be a wattage cottage.