Bikini-themed promo for local bike tour deepens criticism of industry’s gender issues

Bikini-themed promo for local bike tour deepens criticism of industry’s gender issues

gsp email

Screenshot of an email promoting a local bike event.

One of the Portland area’s biggest bike event companies apologized Wednesday for sending a promotional email dominated by a big photo of a weathercaster in a bikini.

“Frightening Poll,” said the email from Good Sport Promotion (screenshot at right). “47% of Romanians did not expect today’s heatwave despite having watched the weather last night.”

“Remember Nadia Comaneci?” the email’s text began, referring to a Romanian athlete (but not the woman pictured). “She got the first perfect 10 in the Olympics. (Montreal 1976) This weekend we have a perfect 10 on the weather forecast.”

It was a promotion for this weekend’s Portland Century ride, an annual event organized by Good Sport Promotion, who also organize and promote the Tour De Lab, Worst Day of the Year Ride and Pedal Petal.

Many bike-lovers objected as the image spread to people around the country.

“What are they thinking?” asked Janet LaFleur. “And how old are the organizers?”

“This is an unsubtle way of telling women it’s a bros-only event,” wrote Portlander Lizbon Grav.

“Now I’m glad that I didn’t sign up this year,” wrote Jordan Devereaux, a (male) OHSU Ph.D candidate. “No money for them.”

In an email to BikePortland, Leah Benson, owner of the female-focused Northeast Portland shop Gladys Bikes, wrote that the Good Sport email was a sign of a widespread “sexism in the bike industry” that goes beyond any particular shop or event company.

About an hour after a screenshot of the email was circulated on Twitter this morning, Good Sport owner Porter Childs apologized on the company’s Facebook page. He expanded on it in a subsequent Facebook post and finally an email to BikePortland Wednesday afternoon:

In our excitement to send a last minute reminder about the Portland Century, an attempt at humor fell flatter than a bike tire riding over broken glass. We offended valued members of our cycling community and the greater Portland community.

While we can’t retract an email newsletter that was sent, we can offer our most sincere apology. We have been producing events for over 15 years and we pride ourselves on being inclusive. We welcome riders of all shapes, sizes, colors, sexes, backgrounds, and beliefs. Our philosophy of “come ride with us” extends to everyone. In particular, we support the efforts of women to transcend what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry (cycling), and encourage ongoing dialogue in our community and within our own company to promote the involvement of females in cycling.

Correction 5:40 pm: A previous version of this post gave the wrong quadrant for Gladys Bikes. It’s now in Northeast Portland.

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