The women in action at Sunday night’s crit
I’ve just returned from the annual migration of Sydney cyclists to South Australia to witness the increasingly popular Tour Down Under. This year, as well as watching the male professionals at their best, we were also treated to a four day women’s series. It’s not that there hasn’t been women’s racing incorporated in previous years but it was always just an aside. This year the organisers stepped it up a notch, promoted it well and attracted a world-class field.
The four race series included two crits and two road races, raced alternatively over four days from Saturday, 17 to Tuesday, 20 January 2015.
I missed the first race because I was busy volunteering at a charity event but watched the other three keenly including photographing the action.
The race series forms part of the National Road Series (NRS) which will continue into 2015 with the added attraction of a number of high profile riders who race mostly in Europe but are in Australia for summer. Wiggle Down Under (usually known as Wiggle Honda for European races) fielded a team including Aussie stars Nettie Edmondson and Chloe Hosking, Orica-AIS was well represented, as well as Tiffany Cromwell racing for the local Roxsolt team.
I arrived in Adelaide on Sunday to enjoy the annual Australian festival of cycling. The first thing I did was head for the tour village to join a women’s only ride led by Tina McCarthy from Melbourne. Tina runs her own business called Wheel Women and she’s one of the most enthusiastic advocates of women cycling I’ve ever met.
So when Tina decided to visit Adelaide she naturally thought of organising a ride. She used social media to promote it and within a couple of days of announcing it she had 50 women signed up. It was a 30 km ride from the tour village, down to Glenelg, along the coast to West Beach and then along the Torrens River bike path back to the CBD.
My friend Shiona and I went along to help out as ride leaders and to encourage and support other riders.
Wheel Women has recently signed a partnership deal with my favourite bike manufacturer Specialized so the ride started from the Specialized stand at the tour village, plus Laura & Emily from Specialized also came along as ride leaders/mentors.
At this time of year if you live in Australia you’ll notice that road cyclists are all talking about who’s going to the Tour Down Under. I’m going this year and I’ve lost count of how many other Sydney-siders are heading to South Australia for the annual festival of cycling. Most people have done it a few times so they’ve got the bike packing thing all sorted, but there’s always a few new people going along.
If you’re not really confident about packing your own bike then make a quick call to your local bike shop and ask them to assist. They’ll probably charge you a modest fee so check that when you make the call to them, and make sure you allow plenty of time before your trip. If you want to give it a go yourself then keep reading.
My partner and I have been travelling with our bikes for about six years and for the first four or so of those we carried our bikes in cardboard boxes. We have now moved up a step and bought ourselves some purpose-built bike bags but for many trips we were content with the humble box. Here’s some of what we learned in a step-by-step guide:
The latest decision by our own illustrious governing body, Cycling Australia gives me a sense of a few tiny baby steps forward, followed by a leap back.
I read stories earlier this week of Cycling Australia’s decision to suspend the women’s road development program in Europe indefinitely. From all reports it was a financial decision but it seems pretty short-sighted to me.
The always eloquent Bridie O’Donnell has written a blog post that summarises the whole issue very well so I won’t paraphrase it here. Read it in full for the inside story.
Confession time for me. Earlier this year, and for the past couple of years, I have ridden an average of at least 100 km per week, but something went a bit awry for me in the middle of this year, and since then my weekly averages have been steadily decreasing. In my mind I was still doing those 100+ km per week, but in reality when I look at the stats I keep I’ve been very, very slack.
I’m not really sure how it happened but I broke an ingrained habit, and I’m really keen to get it back, so I’m setting myself a realistic New Year’s resolution and that is to ride at least 100 km per week throughout 2015 and beyond. It sounds pretty achievable but when you’ve become a bit lazy like me, it’s easy to say, but much harder to do. So here’s a few tips for setting your own resolution. I might just have to read them several times myself!
Set a realistic, achievable goal
You will be setting yourself up for failure if you make your goal too ‘big’. That’s why I’m being really realistic and saying just 100 km. I hope in reality I will exceed it, but I want to make it achievable. So don’t go adopting my goal if you’re currently riding 20 km per week and you can’t possibly find enough time in your schedule to do this five times over. Just aim for 50 km per week which will be more than double what you are doing now, and break it down into two 25 km rides, over two separate days. I certainly won’t be riding 100 km on one day. I will aim to do at least three rides per week and hopefully four.
Merry Christmas to all my Women Who Cycle followers. I’m very grateful to have you in my circle.
I’m not going to recommend that you sit around and eat too much for Christmas, instead you should go for ride on your favourite bike. It’s exactly what I do every Christmas Day with a group of friends. We are lucky enough to live in the beautiful city of Sydney so we head for the Opera House but there are plenty of other great locations. This is our 2013 ride group. You’ll notice that we are very inclusive and have men, women and children along for the ride.
Let me know in the comments or on the Facebook page if you do something similar on Christmas Day.
The women of KPCC
Joining a cycling club is a great way to meet other cyclists and to step up from being a ‘Sunday’ recreational cyclist to that next level. Traditionally they have been primarily focused on racing rather than just riding but they are beginning to reinvent themselves as the popularity of cycling grows to accommodate riders who don’t necessarily want to race, and to welcome women who have not always been attracted to clubs.
When you join a cycling club in Australia you are actually signing up as a member of Cycling Australia which gives you a number of other benefits including public liability and personal accident insurance. On the Cycling Australia website under membership you can search cycling clubs in your area within a 5 km, 10 km, 25 km or 100 km radius, giving you a good shortlist depending on how far afield you are willing to go.
Once you have a shortlist you need to decide what your priorities are to find out what each club can offer you. You could consider criteria like location, whether skills training is offered, what training rides are available, the number of female members and the support given to female riders, racing opportunities for women, and of course what social activities are included.
Every year I compile a Christmas gift list of things I like, and that I think other female road cyclists will like as well. So here’s the 2014 edition.
These fine bone china mugs from England are not cheap but they are a cut above you typical coffee mug. I’ve already placed my order and will enjoy a lovely cup of tea from mine when they arrive.
I already have one of these gold road bike pendants and always get comments about how nice it is and how appropriate it is for me to wear it. Once again it’s not cheap but it’s a quality item.
Chloe taking the win at Omloop van Borsele © sportfoto.nl
Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Aussie pro cyclist Chloe Hosking over the phone. Chloe has returned home to Canberra for the summer season where her training program continues, as well as her university studies in communication.
Chloe has just completed two pretty successful years with Norwegian team Hitec. Her 2014 season began with a stage victory at the Mitchelton Bay Crits, and continued with impressive results in Europe including the EPZ Omloop van Borsele and a stage of the Lotto-Belisol Belgium Tour.
But despite her successes Hitec told her that they wouldn’t be renewing her contract for 2015. Chloe wasn’t too disappointed because she says she was ready to move but when discussions with Orica-AIS fell over at the final hurdle she was feeling a little anxious about her future. She made contact with a number of teams and found a great fit with Wiggle Honda where she’s signed up for the 2015 season. There she’ll be reunited with her friends Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon and will enjoy racing again with Emilia Fahlin.
Amanda Spratt racing La Course in 2014
It’s that time of year when professional cyclists announce their team transfers for the following year. We can all read plenty about the high profile male riders but there’s not so much written about the women. So here’s a list of some of the higher profile Australian female pro road cyclists and their plans for 2015. Please note that this is not a complete list of every Australian female rider who is registered as a professional, so please don’t been offended if you’re not on my list.
Tiffany just won the Australian female road cyclist of the year award for 2014 and came fifth in the World Champs road race. She will stick with the same team next year but it’s undergone a makeover and will re-emerge as Velocio-SRAM. For the past three years it’s been known as Specialized-lululemon.
Nettie is making a shift in 2015 and is joining the Wiggle Honda team which is owned and run by fellow Aussie cyclist Rochelle Gilmore.