Thanks for the response James! Nice to meet you. Can you tell me why it would be unlikely for you to offer AG rankings? Is it possible technically? Age is reported and being ranked by age could be a voluntary “opt in”. Has there been research on whether this is important to your older members? Or to the demographic of potential members from a marketing & revenue growth POV?
I am attaching my broader platform. Happy to point you toward research on the physiology, psychology, public health and economic impact of increasing the activity level of the aging population.
Notwithstanding the two comments below, my experience is that older riders (even if they are able to ride) drop out (IRL and Virtual) in part, because they don’t have peers and there is little support. They are not important and feel marginalized. It’s less fun! Knowing that one is maintaining/outperforming the inexorable Age-Decline Performance Curve, is enormously motivating. Our bodies change but it doesn’t have to be so discouraging. In fact it is especially thrilling to hang on to fitness and drive. Having more AG recognition will also help build community among those riders.
I race with both older and younger men women. It’s big fun to outride my male peers and youngsters, but it’s a bummer to get no recognition for it. Especially for older women riders, where there are already too many obstacles and too few events, with no recognition of performance either in General/Men’s races (no women’s podium). But I am lucky to be relatively fast. It is even more discouraging for people that aren’t. However if they are able to see their own performance against the age curve, and ride “with” their peers, it is motivating and reassuring.
I have a bunch of ideas of gaming features that could make this very fun and motivating – even for the younger riders. An IRL anecdote that is relevant: For many years now, I and other competitive older women riders have experienced the same thing. We might come up on a group of riders or vice versa. Everyone picks up the pace a bit when the “girls” show up. When the other riders happen to learn who we are or how old we are, they nearly fall of their bikes. And the pace picks up another notch when they realize that woman keeping pace and looking very strong could be their mother or grandmother! A new perception of age begins to dawn on that person. For some, a new vision of what their later years could look like. Generally, our societal expectation is of decay and irrelevance with older age. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Older woman athletes/riders have been overcoming resource and opportunity bias for their lifetimes. They have hung in there and developed toughness. But women and older riders who are trying to increase their fitness, and see indoor cycling as an accessible, safe and excellent fitness option, will find little support on Zwift. Yet I posit that it is a significant market opportunity for Zwift.
That’s an individual perspective. From a societal perspective, there is a huge opportunity for an organization like Zwift to help reverse out the marginalization of older athletes and women. In societies where the older population is valued, people live longer, healthier lives, are less of a burden economically and on the health care system, and contribute more of their wisdom to the younger generations.
It might seem like a big leap to suggest Zwift could play a role here, but many small actions by large numbers of people, throughout history, has accomplished transformative positive change and progress.
OK I have to run out for a ride. Look forward to hearing back from you.
(Attachment Platform to advance Older Athlete and Women-Friendly Practices in Cycling - Trish Karter 2023-07.pdf is missing)