I’m writing this on my return flight from Adelaide after spending a week enjoying Australia’s own UCI cycling event, the Tour Down Under. For those of you who don’t already know about it, it’s a six day professional men’s road racing event held every January centred around the South Australian city of Adelaide.
It was my sixth visit to the southern capital for the race and it’s great to see it continue to grow in popularity with lots of locals coming out in support as well as interstate and international visitors.
For me it has always consisted of two key components – the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) ride in the Barossa Valley and the Tour Down Under itself.
The new logo
The Women Who Cycle blog has been running for nearly a year and a half now. When it began in August 2011 I wondered if I could find a new topic to write about every week but amazingly they continue to flow. I guess when you’re really interested in a topic like me it becomes endless.
To celebrate the start of the new year I commissioned a logo for the site. Up until now there’s been no logo or attempt at branding the site and I’m hoping that my regular readers approve of the new look.
This step in the evolution of Women Who Cycle made me reflect a little on the whole area of brand and image management. I’m actually a public relations consultant in my working life so I have spent many years helping others develop a public persona, most of these are organisations but there’s also been individuals.
Norwegian fans with a couple of ring-ins
My partner and I have just finished our second trip to the world’s most famous bike race, Le Tour de France and I thought I’d share a few insights with you. So rather than give you yet another commentary about the actual bike race I will describe what it’s like to follow it.
You might wonder what interest a woman who writes a blog about women’s cycling would have in watching a men’s bike race and the answer is simple, I love all aspects of road biking which includes a keen interest in the men’s pro peleton all year round. It would be great to see the same level of interest in the female pro riders as there is in the men’s and hopefully that will change over time but for now I’ll accept the situation and enjoy following the men and keeping up with the women via social media and occasional media reports.
For my partner and I, it’s the perfect holiday (this is our second TdF) because we get to enjoy our mutual interest in cycling and see a great country like France at the same time.
Amanda Spratt in action
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Australia’s Olympic women’s track cycling team and this time I’m covering the rest of the women’s cycling disciplines – Road, BMX & Mountain Bike (MTB). All of these events will be shown on TV (perhaps in some cases only on pay TV) so make sure you check your TV guides and tune in to see an awesome spectacle.
The road events – road race and individual time trial are on 29 July and 1 August respectively, the BMX is on from 8 to 10 August, and mountain biking (MTB) on 12 August.
The team was confirmed about a week ago and the women’s contingent includes:
Earlier this year I met up with Kristy Scrymgeour, the owner and manager of the women’s European pro cycling team Specialized lululemon and wrote a post about the formation of the new team. Over the weekend I caught up with Kristy from her Paris base via Skype to get an update on the team.
I’ve been following the team’s progress via social media and their great website, and from my perspective they seem to be going well. It seems that Kristy is also very happy with the team and says they’ve surpassed all her expectations already, and it’s only June!!
It all started late last year when the team got together for a launch training camp and the momentum has just kept rolling on. That’s pretty impressive for a team that rarely comes together except for races. Each of the team members has their own base and literally meets up just prior to each event.
The team’s results speak for themselves. Australian Chloe Hosking kicked off the year with a win in The Herald Sun Tour on New Year’s Day. Her team mates have added to that tally many times over and in two recent races the team swept the podium – at Chrono Gatineau in May and the Exergy Tour time trial in Idaho in late May.
The awesome Anna Meares & Kaarle McCulloch
One aim of this blog is to educate people about the upper echelons of women’s cycling. Men’s cycling gets so much focus and so much airplay that I feel duty bound to help correct this in some small way.
One of the great things about the Olympic Games is that we all get exposed to a myriad of sports we’d never usually pay any attention to, and that includes women’s sport. I personally love to watch track cycling both live and on TV so I thought I’d give a little preview of the Australian women’s track team so when you’re watching in July you’ll know a little about each of these wonderful women. The track cycling events are from 2 to 7 August so make sure you check local programming and tune in. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.
The track team was confirmed a week or so ago and the women’s contingent includes:
- 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.
Team owner Kristy Scrymgeour
I had the pleasure of meeting the owner of the new Specialized lululemon women’s cycling team yesterday. We enjoyed a cafe visit overlooking the lovely Bronte beach in Sydney’s east. Kristy Scrymgeour was previously the Marketing and Communication Director at the high profile HTC Highroad team that folded last year.
Kristy is quite humble about how she started the new team almost overnight late last year. The timing was quite good for her because she was ready to move on to other things and the team’s demise gave her that push. Interestingly it was the female team members who didn’t want to be separated and approached Kristy for help. They all agreed that it would have to happen quickly so that the women wouldn’t miss out on opportunities with other teams if it didn’t work, so they gave themselves an ambitious deadline of only two weeks.
Kristy approached bike company Specialized because she had an existing relationship with them through HTC Highroad. They agreed almost immediately and suggested she also approach activewear company lululemon. lululemon also agreed really quickly and the base was set. She’s also managed to attract a group of other minor sponsors to the team. Plus some of the support staff from HTC Highroad have also joined the team.
'How to pee' for women from Marijn de Vries
When I first started riding a little over three years ago, many of my non cycling girlfriends would say to me “You must get such a sore backside after riding so far on that little seat”. But the truth is that it wasn’t my bum that was sore but my more vulnerable ‘girl bits’ that really suffered when I first started riding. After three years I’m pleased to say that I rarely get any soreness or pain down there so I assume I’ve just ‘hardened up’ so to speak.
I also noticed that not many women spoke about this problem that plagues so many of us particularly when we start riding, so I thought I’d write a blog about what I’ve learned. There is one exception and that’s a cycling girlfriend of mine who said to me not long after we’d met “Does your fanny hurt from riding?” and of course my answer was a resounding yes or at least sometimes.
In her book Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling: Everything you need to know, Selene Yeager explains that the tender tissue of the vagina (let’s call a spade a spade here) is sitting precariously close to our outsides so can suffer easily from tenderness and once aggravated it will “pipe up pretty loudly”. She recommends high quality, women-specific bike knicks that have a moulded one piece chamois and you don’t wear undies underneath them. She also suggests a women’s specific saddle which is wider to support a women’s pelvis and usually has cut-outs to relieve pressure where it counts.
The Specialized Women SA team
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.