For the 2024 edition of Wild West Country, we’re switching to an application process using a lottery system, after two years of a first-come approach. Read more below to understand how it will work and why we are doing this.
How does it work?
Everyone who applies will be put into a lottery. We have three pools of names to pick from: one for new riders, one for returning riders and one for riders who have one or more characteristics that could make the WWC24 line-up more diverse.
Names are put into any pool you’re eligible for. Of course, everyone will go in one of the first two pools. Then only select riders will find themselves in the final diversity pool as well. While the actual odds will vary based on numbers in each pool, this effectively gives these riders two shots at entry.
The aim is to give the numbers a slight nudge in the direction of progress, without excluding anyone or setting strict quotas.
Why have you chosen a lottery rather than a selective application process?
Because it’s a lot less work! Selecting riders manually would require a huge amount of administration and we’re a very small team. Furthermore, this kind of approach tends to be less transparent and is more open to accusations of bias or favouritism.
Why is it necessary?
Often diversity is talked about in an abstract sense, with little thought about why it matters. But this is a completely valid question and the answer is that a more diverse line-up conveys real benefits for both the riders and society in general.
For riders, it gives them a chance to interact with people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, beliefs and identities. In a world full of ever smaller echo chambers, these kinds of opportunities are becoming more limited. And a shared love of cycling often sees people from vastly different walks of life find common ground.
And of course, for the riders who fall into the diversity pool, they benefit from an increased chance of entry. Many of the characteristics listed correspond to barriers to entry into the sport, whether due to societal pressures, structural obstacles or cultural prejudices.
Finally, society benefits through the idea that “you cannot be what you cannot see”. A more diverse group of riders at WWC24 can help inspire others for future editions, removing perceived and real barriers into our sport.
I don’t have one of the characteristics you’re listing, so doesn’t this change exclude me?
We’re very aware that our events, much like many others, have been built on the enthusiasm, trust and effort of riders who likely don’t qualify for the diversity pool. That is the reality of our sport and one of the difficult challenges we all face when addressing topics like this. We’re hugely grateful to all those riders and it’s one of the reasons why we have specifically included a pool for past riders.
However, writing as someone who is basically a walking template for an ultra-endurance rider (middle class, white, male, straight…), I can also understand that my presence on numerous startlines is not unrelated to some of the privileges conferred upon me. All our lottery does is slightly correct the odds.
Why aren’t you implementing this for your other events?
At the moment, Wild West Country is the only event to be oversubscribed. Therefore, we’re simply starting with this one. However, it’s also worth noting that it naturally attracts a lot of people attempting their first event, so thinking about things like barriers into the sport is particularly important.