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Monthly Archives: January 2012
If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know by now that I’m a fan of the US bike company Specialized. It’s partly because I really love their products which so far for me includes my bike, shoes, socks and gloves but also because they are great supporters of women’s cycling teams.
Many of you would have probably heard of the European based Specialized Lululemon team which is a spin-off from the ill-fated HTC Highroad team that disbanded last year (a blog post coming on that one soon) but Specialized is also working with women’s cycling in Australia at a lower level of the sport.
This includes a South Australian team called ‘Specialized Women SA’ which is led by one of its team members Liz Phillipou. They are racing a selected schedule over the next year which will include some National Road Series (NRS) races. I saw them race at the Women’s Cup run by Cycling South Australia during the recent Tour Down Under. The team won the opening race with team member Bec Werner and I was lucky enough to meet Bec the next day at the Specialized stand at the Tour Down Under village. If you want to know more about the team you can read a longer article on Cycling Central.
I’ve just returned home after a great holiday to watch the Tour Down Under (TDU) in South Australia and I thought I’d share some of my experiences with you.
The TDU has become a bit of an annual pilgrimage for Phillip and I because we were visiting for the fifth time in 2012. But like most cycling activities our interest and time spent has grown exponentially in the TDU. Our first in 2008 centred around Phillip’s participation in his first charity ride – the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes. We probably watched a stage or two of the TDU but it was really just a sideline to our trip.
This year we fully embraced it and rode around the streets of Adelaide like so many other cyclists and soaked it all up. Our trip was divided into three parts – the JDRF ride which is the subject of the previous blog post, the TDU itself and then a couple of extra nights catching up with some friends.
For the duration of the TDU we stayed in an apartment in Adelaide’s CBD with our good friends Stu & Shiona who are equally keen on all things cycling.
This was my fourth time I had participated and while a lot of people think that raising $3,500 to do the ride is a huge challenge, for me riding the 160 km course was far harder.
In my previous three rides I’d only done the 80 km course which was hard for me the first time (only four months after I started riding) but it had become increasingly achievable.
So I spent the past few months training which really paid off and I’m very pleased to say I completed the ride successfully. For those who like a few stats it took 6 hours 33 minutes at an average speed of 25 km per hour. In fact it was 164 km.
The JDRF ride is an 80 km circuit around the beautiful Barossa Valley. The 160 km ride is a clockwise lap followed by an 80 km anti-clockwise lap. It’s undulating for the most part but in some parts hilly. Harder than the 210 km Around the Bay in Melbourne which many other riders agreed with me.
The most bizarre thing happened on my ride this past Sunday and I’ve got a great video to go with the story thanks to my friend Howard Brown.
I was doing what I do most Sundays and enjoying a bunch ride on Sunday morning around Homebush with the guys from my bike club LACC. For those who know the area we had come along Hill Road and turned left into Pondage Link and I was on the front. The next thing I heard and felt this soft thud which I later realised was a low flying black bird with really bad flying skills. It had ploughed into my back wheel right in the middle in line with my rear cassette.
The low profile of women’s cycling has come to fore again in recent days following some rather controversial comments by Chloe Hosking at the start of the Bay Crits racing inVictoria. Calling the head of the UCI ‘a dick’ is probably not the right way to go but I do agree with her sentiment. To her credit she has come out and said her choice of words was not great but she stands by the comments.
I’m at outsider to this situation and have only recently started following the women’s professional cycling scene so I’m in a unique position to put my hat in the ring on this subject.
I’m a public relations consultant by day and so am not completely ignorant about how you build a profile.
Firstly, it’s a slow process. But I believe that there are many women working behind the scenes who are having an impact. I really like the comments by Australian road cycling coach Donna Rae-Szalinski who says in a report on SBS Cycling Central that women need to work with the system rather than against it. She definitely supports the slow process idea and sees it happening step-by-step.