There’s been a lot of media space devoted to the issue of bike riders using the roads of late, so I thought I’d put my ‘two bobs worth’ forward.
You’ll note that I haven’t called this blog post ‘Cars v Bikes’ because I really don’t think that’s what it’s about. From my observation many drivers (and by no means all drivers) think that they are entitled to use the roads exclusively and that cyclists should vacate ‘their’ roads or at least pull over and let them pass.
As a road cyclist I think I’m pretty considerate. I do most of my riding early in the morning to avoid heavy traffic, I choose not to ride on major roads except where they can’t be avoided, I obey the road rules, I use front and rear lights early in the morning and late in the afternoon, and I travel at a speed where I rarely hold up a driver for more than a few seconds.
And yet, nearly every time I ride my bike I encounter an aggressive driver who either takes my right of way at a roundabout, comes up very fast behind me and then overtakes in a dangerous manner, and occasionally I’ve been beeped at, or yelled at by impatient people.
A few months ago I was lucky enough to meet up with Kristy Scrymgeour who is the owner and manager of the women’s pro team Specialized-lululemon. Kristy was in Sydney enjoying her annual pilgrimage to her parents’ beachside home. I originally wrote this article for a UK website which they published but buried a bit in another article so I thought I’d share it again………….
Kristy Scrymgeour, despite living in Europe and the US for many years is still very much an Aussie girl at heart. She’s humble, and despite being fairly softly-spoken she gets fired up when she talks about her involvement in women’s cycling.
Like most Aussie kids she rode a bike as a child around her home in Sydney’s southern suburbs, but didn’t think of cycling as a serious sport until she reached university. Her opportunity came when the University cycling team was looking for an extra team member to race at the University Games and she rather bullishly put her hand up. She was studying science teaching at the University of Sydney and had only recently started cycling, after her boyfriend at the time gave her a second hand bike to ride.
Ever since I started writing this blog (about two and a half years ago) I’ve been following the women’s pro peleton. Prior to that, I have to admit I only followed the men’s, mostly because it was easily accessible with lots of TV and media coverage. Over those two and a half years I’ve learnt how to find information about the women’s tour and I think that 2014 is going to be big year for the women, and here’s a few reasons why.
UCI Women’s commission headed up by Tracey Gaudry
Last year Australian former pro cyclist Tracey Gaudry was named as one of three Vice Presidents of the UCI. That followed her earlier appointment as the President of the Oceania Cycling Confederation. That gives her two big roles and I’m sure she’s up to the challenge.
A new Women’s Commission of the UCI has also been formed and has already met for the first time to start planning its work.
I was lucky enough to meet Tracey at a forum in January and will be interviewing her in the next month or so for an upcoming blog post.
This week I thought I’d share a few other women’s websites and blogs that I visit regularly for inspiration and information about women’s cycling. I’ve even been known to republish some of their material, with permission of course. This is a fairly short list and I’m sure there are loads of other great ones. Please let me know via the comments if there are other sites you’ve come across.
This is a relatively new women’s online magazine that is UK-based and launched early in 2013. It’s really hit the ground running and regularly publishes great tips, product reviews, women’s racing news and even runs regular competitions. They are also quite active on social media. Definitely worth a look.
Living in the ‘information age’ means we have access to a vast amount of information on so many topics. If we want to know anything about any subject we all head straight for Google and usually find out the answer within seconds. However, there’s nothing like a book to really properly explore a topic and I’ve found two great books about women’s cycling that you might find useful.
The first one I actually read in Kindle format on my newly acquired Ipad in January this year but the second one is a fully fledged printed book that I picked up on sale at my local bike shop.
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.
Manager of women's team Specialized Lululemon Kristy Scrymgeour
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.
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.