"Every lap there was a surge of about 30 seconds at plus 800 watts.” It was exactly the type of race – frantic, with repeated maximal efforts – that had suited her best and which just 18 months ago she would have relished. Today, though, it was a very different story. “I was like, ‘OK, that’s not happening’ – I just didn’t have that level anymore.” Emily Bridges is describing to me the sharp shock of taking part in the elite men’s crit at the Loughborough Cycling Festival at the end of May last year. “I was shelled after two laps and lapped four times,” she shakes her head, reliving the unfamiliar feeling of being resigned to defeat. Bridges finished 43rd out of 45.
Why was a woman competing in an elite men’s crit race, you might be wondering – unless you know Bridges’s backstory. The 21-year-old came out publicly as a transgender woman in October 2020, having previously set national records in the junior male category (18.42 for 10 miles, 47.27 for 25 miles). She was racing against men last summer because she was not yet eligible to compete in the female category. British Cycling’s transgender policy stipulates that a rider’s testosterone level must be below 5nmol/L for at least 12 months before their first race. In 2022, Bridges will compete in the female category for the first time.
Trans inclusion in sport is a contentious subject, but the purpose of this article is not to support or oppose any […]