I just love riding
When I first made this bold claim about six months ago (fittingly at the post-ride café stop) I thought I could be exaggerating a little but it sounded good. I’ve since decided that it’s not so bold after all and completely sums up how I feel about the pastime of cycling for me.
A wonderful benefit of writing this blog is that it leads me to meet some wonderful women (most of the time only via email and phone) and hear how cycling has had an impact on their lives. Pro cyclist Bridie O’Donnell told me that she sees cycling as a ‘metaphor for life’; Tanya Saad who teaches bike skills in Canberra says ‘the benefits of cycling are life benefits’; Cyclist Bec Domange describes cycling as empowering and it goes on. Women seem to describe cycling in terms of their whole life rather than just a form of exercise or a way to meet new people. This led me to conclude that my bold claim was indeed true (or at least for me), and there are three ways it has changed me:
I know a lot of men leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute. I’ve had first hand experience of this for the last 20 years so to help you guys out here’s a few tips for last minute Christmas gift ideas for the female riders in your life.
All road girls like proper road cycling gloves that are made for women’s smaller hands. My favourites are Specialized BG Gel women’s gloves (size small for me in case any of my family or friends are reading this). You can buy them at Specialized dealers like Ashfield Cycles or Northside Cyclery.
I also have a pair of Bontrager (made by Trek) that are also nice. I bought these at Clarence Street Cyclery women’s store.
Socks are a great stocking filler and the only socks a women would be happy to find in her stocking are special road bike riding socks like my favourites from Specialized.
I don’t recommend you buy just any socks and pop them in the stocking. Socks are definitely not regarded as a great gift by women under normal circumstances.
Kate in the NSW IS kit racing at Parramatta last December (note the lovely bike she's riding - same as mine)
One thing I’m beginning to learn as I dabble in the world of professional sport which is something I haven’t really done before is that things can change quickly. A sponsor pulls out unexpectedly, an injury occurs or in Kate Bate’s case an injury reoccurs. I originally spoke to Kate a couple of weeks ago and she told me all about how her focus was on the London Olympics.
So I wrote my blog post and as I sometimes do I sent it to Kate to fact check to make sure I’d got all the details right. I got a surprising and apologetic email back about 12 hours later to say everything had changed and Kate would be announcing her retirement the next day. Kate’s a very humble and kind women and she was actually apologising to me that she’d messed up my story. But never mind, I’ve salvaged it with a new angle. Easy done.
Sophie with my favourite cyclist at a recent awards night
From the womenwhocycle.com perspective it’s great to see women achieving great things in cycling and it’s also great to see a woman reporting on those achievements. Of course, the talented Sophie Smith has not been recruited by SBS Cycling Central to report on just women’s cycling but her mere presence will help raise the profile of women involved in cycling.
Sophie’s own interest and knowledge of professional cycling has grown exponentially and it certainly wasn’t her ambition straight out of a Monash Uni to land a job at SBS. After graduating she took her first journalism job at the Geelong Advertiser, known locally as ‘The Addy’. She started with news, then sport and gradually increased her cycling coverage until 12 months out from the World Championships, which were held in October 2010 in Geelong, her editor gave her a weekly cycling page to write and produce . It seemed like an ambitious project at the time and put Sophie on a steep learning curve. Up until then most of her stories had been about local talents Leigh Howard and Cadel Evans, who lived locally so readers wanted to know what they were up to.
It was great to see the Greenedge women’s team unveiled today. It will certainly help raise the profile of women’s cycling in Australia and help tell the world that we have many talented women cyclists in Australia.
The team announcement lists Cycling Australia (CA) and the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) as joint venture partners and in fact the team will be called Greenedge AIS. I can’t help but feel that it’s a bit strange that a government body is involved with a privately owned team. I also think it’s odd that a certain caravan company is so heavily intertwined with both CA and the AIS. I’d love to know the views of others on this one. Am I being overly critical?
I’d also like to join the bandwagon and congratulate Greenedge for receiving their UCI Protour licence. It’s a great step for Australian cycling and I’m sure I will enjoy watching the team make their debut at the Tour Down Under and also cheer them on at the Tour de France in 2012 (that’s of course after I cheer on Cadel and his BMC team). I did however enjoy Rupert Guinness’ article on smh.com.au which cautions us all about getting too excited about a team that has barely begun. Well done Rupert of some balanced journalism.
I’m honoured to have been interviewed by fellow blogger Niamh Griffin. Niamh is Irish and has a fantastic blog called ‘Inspiring Sports Women’ and she’s just posted an interview with me. Check out the interview and Niamh’s great blog.
Me after a cruise around the block
I hope you don’t think from reading this blog on a regular basis that I’m an elitist road bike snob because although I’m a very keen road-biker I’m also keen to get women to ride bikes of any type. I ultimately believe if they catch the bug they’ll end up on a road bike, but really any riding is good in my view.
Last weekend I did a few laps around the block on my sister’s new comfort style bike. It was sort of fun rolling along with my seven year old nephew in tow and his father right behind him keeping guard. Here’s the photographic evidence. No lycra in sight!!!
So I’ve done my research and thought I’d give you a simple run down on the different sorts of bikes you could consider if you’re just starting out. My first bike, other than the ones I rode as a child & teenager, was a road bike but many people work their way up. Plus, there are plenty of people who are very happy to have a bike to just ride with their kids or use it to get to their local shops. All fine by me. All cycling is good in my view.