Monthly Archives: September 2011

Maybe you should give club cycle racing a go

If I think back to my pre-cycling me I would have been amazed at my devotion to cycling and I would have thought it was extraordinary that I’d tried racing.

I’ve spent my whole life being the ‘non-sporty’ type. I remember being reasonably involved in little athletics and other sport when I was at primary school but once I reached high school I tried my hardest to get out of any sporting endeavour and particularly any competitive one!!! At my school the sporty girls were encouraged to be involved but if you weren’t any good at sport like me you could easily slip under the radar.

In fact I think this was a real problem with physical education when I was at school and I hope it’s changed a bit. If you didn’t participate in an organised sport then you pretty much did no physical activity except for a once a week PE session.

So when I started cycling my motivation was not to compete but just to get fit and have a bit of fun.

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Professional women cyclists deserve a minimum wage

According to an article by Rupert Guinness on the average salary for professional female cyclists “is understood to be €20,000, and about 20 per cent race for free”.

It’s a pity that the UCI President was so dismissive and unsupportive of the women’s sport. If you want to know more, read Rupert’s article here. Thanks again Rupert for covering women’s professional cycling.

Not all women cyclists like pink gear!!!

One thing that struck me about female cyclists – I’m talking about the everyday variety rather than the pros here – when I first started riding was the number of women who deck themselves out in the colour pink. 

I’m not sure if it’s because they want to be seen as feminine, want some special treatment on the road or that they genuinely like the colour. Maybe a bit of all three. Either way everyone is entitled to wear whatever colour they like. I’d just like to voice my opinion to the cycling industry about what I like. 

Before I go any further on this topic I better let you know that I dislike the colour pink or at least the pale and bubble gum shades of it. I hate the stereotype of women wearing the colour pink. You could call me a hypocrite because I actually have a couple of hot pink colour items in my wardrobe but I can guarantee you, you won’t find any pink in my cycle clothing draw. 

Take a look at the women’s cycle wear website which offers a great range of women’s cycle wear but the website is essentially pink. I do concede that they offer a few alternatives like green, orange and blue, but if you don’t like pink like me you’re unlikely to get past the home page. 

It also extends beyond the clothing women wear when cycling, to the most sacred areas like the bikes themselves. When I was buying a new bike I took two leading brands off my shortlist because they were pink or at least had enough pink on them to cause offence to me. I’ve also seen a lot of women ‘pinkify’ their bikes by adding pink handlebar tape, pink saddles, pink stripe tyres and other accessories. 

I was heartened to read a great article by Nicole Lancaster in the current issue of Bicycling Australia magazine about the new Specialized Amira 2012 bikes and she quotes Specialized saying that the company will always offer an alternative to pink, if pink is a colour they include. They recognise that not all women want pink things. Yeah. 

If you disagree with my little rant then that’s fine too. You might enjoy a visit to which is a catalogue of pink bikes. Very ugly in my view but I’m sure it’s got appeal to some people. 

The final word on the subject goes to film-maker Liam Murphy who made this fantastic video for Skyline Cycles in the UK. “It’s called ‘Free’ because it’s all about setting female riders free from the pinks, purples and flowery graphics pushed on them by many bike companies”. Love it.

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear a counterview on the subject.

An interview with pro cyclist Bridie O’Donnell

I was lucky enough to catch-up with female pro cyclist Bridie O’Donnell via email from her base in Varese, Italy this week. She is a member of the Top Girls Fassa Bortolo women’s pro cycling team. Here’s what she had to say….

Q. I read that you didn’t become a professional cyclist until you were 35, after you had worked full time as a doctor. Why did you make the career change?

Bridie, the proud Australian

I never considered myself to be an athlete when I was young, although I was active. It wasn’t until my early 20s when I started racing Olympic distance triathlon, that I considered it might be something I could do at an elite level. When I started rowing, I made a change to working part-time in medicine, but always considered myself a doctor.

In 2007, I finally passed the Part 1 exam to gain entry to a specialist program (Sports Medicine) but then I won the National TT Championships two months later in 2008. Then I had a choice: start my 4y speciality or got to Europe with the AUS National team in an Olympic year, in the hope of getting the only TT spot at Beijing Olympics. For me, it was a no brainer!

 Of course, I didn’t make Beijing and finished 23rd in the World TT Championships in Varese, so I didn’t blow the world away.

It meant that quitting a full time job and stepping away from a stable and respectable career in medicine was not considered a smart move!

It was never my ‘dream’ to be a pro cyclist in Europe, I just saw it as the necessary step in fast-tracking my skills, gathering experience & improving to a point where I could hope to be a world class time trial rider. I would not recommend taking on a pro women’s peloton at the Tour of Flanders for your first World Cup experience, but that was my first race in 2008 & I was very excited & terrified! I didn’t finish that race, but I did the next time I raced it in 2010 in my first professional team, riding as domestique for the reigning road world Champion, in team Valdarno.

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Sign up for a cycling event – a great way to set a goal

About six years ago, before I took up cycling my sister-in-law Tina suggested that I sign up for a fun run to give myself a training goal. At the time I was a recent convert to jogging for fitness (and despite all my cycling I still jog two or three times a week) and had no idea where it would lead me. Tina is a personal trainer and she uses fun runs and other events to encourage her clients to set fitness goals.

Well it worked for me, firstly with my jogging, and it has since worked well for my cycling training. In fact at the moment I’m training for the Triathlon Pink which is in October. That was Tina’s idea as well and she’ll be completing it with me as well as my friend Shiona (also a cycling friend) and my other sister-in-law Bec.

Because this is a cycling blog I’ll focus on cycling events and their benefits but the same theory can apply to any sport that has public sporting events like swimming, kayaking, walking, running and many more.

Tina and me after finishing our second JDRF ride together

If you read my story you’ll realise that I actually took up cycling nearly three years ago to participate in a charity bike ride – The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ride for a Cure that is held in the Barossa Valley, SA in January every year. I’ll soon be training to participate in my fourth JDRF ride but this time I’m upping the ante and have signed up to do 160 km. The first three years I completed the 80 km course. The first time I completed it I was thrilled and amazed at myself. Imagine how I will feel after completing twice that distance!

So in coming months I’ll be training hard, doing lots of long rides to get myself ready to ride that distance. I’ll also be feeling good because I’ll be raising funds for a fantastic cause – to find a cure for diabetes. If you’d like to help me out with my fundraising goal of $3,500 please follow this link. At the time of writing this blog my total is $400 so I’ve got a way to go yet.

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