I first heard about the Adelaide-based women only cycling club, The Skinny Lattes a couple of years ago but it wasn’t until now that I made contact. I previously profiled a women’s only club based in Austin, Texas in the US, a country where I’m sure there are plenty of women’s only clubs. However, The Skinny Lattes is the only one I’m aware of in Australia (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about that). I recently caught up with Belinda Bramley who is the Club Secretary and one of the founding members.
When was the Skinny Lattes formed?
The Skinny Lattes Cycling Club was formed in 2002 by three girlfriends Felicity Laing, Lynette Collins and Belinda Bramley who recognised a need for a women’s specific cycling group.
How many members do you have? How do you join?
Currently we have 90 members. We don’t search for members – they find us. You contact the club via the website, and then we chat with potential new members and if we sound like the right club you join via the Cycling Australia Website.
Eight year old, Ava Giramondo is a member of the youth development squad of my cycling club Lidcombe-Auburn Cycle Club (LACC) and she recently presented to her Year 2 class at PLC Sydney, her reasons for selecting cycling as the best sport. When I read it, it seemed to me that Ava’s reasons were not dissimilar to many female cyclists. I particuarly like the bit about how she and her friends don’t have to hang out with the boys! Enjoy….
Here’s Ava’s presentation:
Good morning/afternoon 2c.
In my opinion cycling is the best sport. The type of cycling I’m going to talk to you about is bike racing. It can be enjoyed by both young and old. There are two types of racing you can participate in; road racing and track racing at a velodrome.
Here are three reasons why in my view cycling is the best sport.
The LACC Women’s team and junior Pixies.
I’m particularly happy this week to tell you about a new women’s race team and development squad being launched by my own cycling club – Lidcombe-Auburn Cycle Club (LACC). The new squad is under the leadership of cycling coach and LACC member Donna Meehan and I’m lucky enough to be the Team Manager.
Donna who has taken on the role of Directeur Sportif (or team director) describes it as a milestone event for the cycling club.
To officially launch the team, an event was held at The Quad Café at Sydney Olympic Park last Friday night.
Donna said of the new team and development squad, “LACC has been around for more than 90 years and this is the first time there’s been a women’s race team formed.
- Austin Flyers Women’s Cycling
I was lucky enough to spend the month of July in beautiful France and part of that trip was following the Tour de France from Stage 6 until the end. One of the great things about the Tour de France is the camaraderie that exists amongst all the cycling fans waiting by the side of the road each day.
That’s how I found out about the Austin Flyers which is a women’s only cycling club based in Austin, Texas in the USA. Jessica who is a member of the club came up to me and asked if she could have her photograph taken with our inflatable kangaroo, Daisy and of course I said yes. I noticed that Jessica was wearing a T-shirt with the club name on the front and asked her about it. That resulted in us exchanging details and me contacting her when I got home to write this blog post. So with Jessica’s help I posed some questions to club president Kate Sherwin and here’s her responses:
- The venue for the weekend
I’m really excited about attending a women’s training camp in October to be held over four days and three nights in one of my favourite country towns of Bathurst, NSW.
I hold a little soft spot for Bathurst because it’s where I attended three years of Uni to study communication back in the 80s. Wonderful town and I’m really looking forward to returning there in October.
Cycle coach Donna Meehan and a group of female coaches have got together to organise a four day training camp to be held from Friday, 26 to Monday, 29 October 2012, aimed at women who are interested in racing and recreational cycling.
A question I’ve pondered a few times over the past few years since I took up cycling is whether I would benefit from some help from a coach. I remember discussing it with a few fellow cyclists a year or two ago and we concluded that it might spoil our fun. This is because other people we know who have been ‘coached’, always seem to be off doing serious training sessions, rather than enjoying the company of their mates on social rides followed by the mandatory cafe visit.
Well I’m pleased to say that I’ve changed my mind on that one and I now think I can have both. I chatted with Donna Meehan who is a cycling coach about it and she’s enlightened me. So next time I have a big goal I’ll be heading off to consult Donna.
The best way to describe coaching is to use a few real life examples and talk about how coaching has helped or could have helped. So let’s start with Donna herself. She started riding to lose weight when she was in her mid-thirties and by 40th birthday she was well and truly hooked. She recalls her favourite presents were her SPD pedals and diamond earrings.
- Time trial master Cadel Evans
I must confess up front that I’m no time trial expert. In fact I’ve only ever done one individual time trial and that was with absolutely no special preparation or specific training. However, my Club Championship ITT is coming up and I thought I’d give it another go and in the process educate myself about how to prepare for one.
My first and only ‘race of truth’ was last year for the LACC Club Championship. I literally decided the day before that I would go along to Penrith Regatta Centre and give it a crack. Sadly for the club, but good for me there weren’t a huge number of participants so I found myself with only one rival in the Masters Women’s category and Joanna was/is so far above my league that I just focused on my own ride and knew my time would be way behind hers. It also meant that I was guaranteed a second place if I finished the race and I proudly display my medal to prove it. Would you believe this is the only trophy or medal of any kind I’ve ever received in a sporting competition. I have lots of fun run, bike event participation medals but I’ve never actually been awarded a place in anything ever before.
This year I will again ride LACC’s Club Championship ITT which is a 20 km ride around the Penrith Regatta Centre. I doubt that I’ll win, particularly if Joanna is there again, but I might be lucky enough to score a place again. For the record I did the 20 km last year in 39:06 so that’s what I’ll be aiming to beat.
Women's racing at SUVelo. Photo courtesy of sweatandgears.com
It’s great to see the state of NSW getting behind women’s only grades at club level crit racing. For those who don’t already know a criterium, or crit, is a bike race held on a short course often held on closed streets. The course is short, usually less than 5 km, and is a closed circuit, where riders complete multiple laps. Riders typically race for a given length of time, then complete a specified number of laps.
Last week I had a chat with Donna Meehan of Domestique who is the driving force behind the initiative. Donna is working with Cycling NSW and three Sydney clubs – Sydney Uni Velo (SUVelo), Lidcombe Auburn Cycle Club (LACC) and Southern Cross Cycle Club (SXCC).
It all stems from a survey conducted earlier this year by Cycling NSW to gauge the level of interest in women’s only grades in races. There were a number of options proposed and the most popular was a monthly weekend race in the Sydney area with A and B grades.
That’s exactly what they’ve delivered with this program listed below.
- Greenedge-AIS rider Judith Arndt showing us how it’s done in the Women’s Cup in SA in January
It’s been a while since I’ve written an article about tips and while I’m certainly not an expert in riding skills I’ve learnt a lot in the past three and a half years that I feel I’m qualified to share.
My own first lessons on fundamentals like cornering came from my very patient partner Phillip. This was followed by lots of tips from more experienced riders on the LACC bunch rides around Sydney Olympic Park. Some of them were a little patronising but most were very welcome.
I also learnt a lot when I attended a bike skills workshop last year and have tried to put the skills I learned into practice. That said, I’m still not great at cornering. I brake more than I should and go slower than I potentially could because I’m scared of crashing.
Women are generally more cautious than men when it comes to anything that involves physical activity and we need lots of a encouragement before we become proficient at something.
Since I started writing this blog last year I’ve had no less than four women that I’ve interviewed or spoken with who have mentioned St Kilda Cycling Club (SKCC) as the club to join in Melbourne if you’re a women. So I thought I should find out a little more for myself by speaking to one of the key people behind SKCC women’s program, Gaelene Snelling.
When I spoke to Gaelene a couple of weeks ago she proudly reported that of the current 600 SKCC members, 165 of these are women who are signed up on a mixture of racing and recreational licences. That’s an impressive 27.5 per cent of the total membership which I’m sure is a great deal more than most cycling clubs in Australia.
So I asked Gaelene what her club’s secret was, and it was no surprise that she said there wasn’t really a secret. She, along with many others has worked hard to encourage women to join the club by building activities gradually.