My photograph of Anna at Dunc Grey Velodrome
I was lucky enough to catch up with the amazing Anna Meares via email for an interview. I find Anna very inspiring and have been lucky enough to see her race a couple of times at the velodrome in Sydney.
Q: My Sydney Cycling Club, Lidcombe Auburn Cycle Club (LACC) has a girls’ development squad called the Pixies. They ride and race both track and road and range in age from about six to 13. What words of wisdom could you offer them?
A: I have heard of the Pixies (very cute little group and cute name). My advice would be to have fun, enjoy the sport, enjoy the company of old friends and new friends because these will be memories that last you a lifetime.
Q: At what age did you switch from ‘having fun’ racing and riding your bike to ‘serious’ training? How old were you when you found your first coach?
A: I was 13 when I found my first coach in Ken Tucker in Rockhampton. I probably went from having fun to serious when I was 16 years old.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like spending part of the year living in Europe. My fantasies have centred more around hanging out in Tuscany for six months and learning to speak Italian but I’m also interested in what it would be like to live the life of a female pro cyclist (not that I have the talent).
You may remember I interviewed Aussie cyclist Jo Hogan in January before she headed for the cycling season in Spain. Jo is now part the way through a great season in Europe and she reflects on her own website The Healthy Cyclist what it’s like to spend part of her year there.
Q: I understand that 2012 was your first year living overseas and competing on a World Cup level. Tell me about this. Did you have a second language or did you have to learn Spanish?
A: Yes, 2012 was my first full season of racing on the women’s professional European circuit and competing at a World Cup level. Racing at this level was like nothing I had experienced before. The large number of women in the field, the courses, weather conditions and being part of a team where I was the only English speaking team member. Being out of my comfort zone certainly kept me focused!
One of the things I said I would do when I started this blog nearly two years ago was to provide regular updates about women’s professional cycling, and while I’ve done a few cyclist profiles, I haven’t done nearly enough to inform my readers about women’s pro cycling. So here’s an attempt at least to get you all on board with an update about one of the biggest women’s pro races of the year – the Giro Rosa, which was formerly known as the Giro Donne.
Firstly, I have to say that I can’t fathom why the Giro Rosa and its predecessor the Giro Donne is run at the same time as the very, very high profile men’s race that I know you’ve all heard of – Le Tour de France. But that aside, let’s focus on some positives.
The Giro Donne was a women’s Italian stage race that began in 1988, and has in the past been known for tackling some of Italy’s most difficult terrain, not unlike the Giro D’Italia raced by the men in May every year. After last year’s edition, its future was in doubt until a new organiser stepped in, renamed the race the Giro Rosa (meaning Pink Tour) and committed to run it until the 2016 edition.
Kimberley Wells (centre) on the Podium at the 2013 nationals.
The first time I remembering hearing the name Kimberley Wells was when I was watching the Bay Crits on television earlier this year. She won against many of her highly fancied rivals. The second time was when I saw her live, racing in the Women’s Cup at Unley in Adelaide during the Tour Down Under where she also won. So I wasn’t at all surprised when Kimberley made contact with me from her new base in the US. Here’s the story in her own words.
Why did you start cycling?
I am 27 years old now and fell into cycling throughout University in Far North Queensland. I came back from a year in the UK/Europe working and travelling and bought a road bike a week before I started Uni, aged 18 years. Initially I used it to get around town, but over a few years became more involved in bunch riding, the Townsville Cycling Club then some local racing, progressing to having a coach. I knew I wanted to go further with the cycling, but there were significant challenges doing this as a medical student in the far reaches of North Queensland without a road map to success. After graduating University in 2009 and following my boyfriend to Canberra I started ramping up the riding/racing, working towards becoming a full-time athlete in 2012.
Late last year I was at an event staged by Australian Cycling Executives (ACE) and Annette (Nettie) Edmondson was a special guest. I was fortunate enough to have a chat with Nettie and asked her if I could interview her for Women Who Cycle. Here’s the result:
Q: How old were you when you started riding? What got you started?
I was 13 years old when I was selected for cycling by the Talent Identification Program at the South Australian Institute of Sport after they tested a range of students for their physical attributes and capabilities. I had never considered cycling as a ‘sport’. I saw it more as a hobby and didn’t actually know there was a whole ‘racing’ world out there. I gave the Talent Search’s year-long track and road program a crack, really enjoyed it and here I still am today!
One of the great benefits of writing a blog about women’s cycling is that I get to meet (at least by phone and email) some great female cyclists who are completely dedicated to the sport and reaching their potential.
I was recently contacted by Australian female pro cyclist Joanne Hogan who has given up her nursing career to ride her bike as a professional. Jo didn’t actually contact me direct, it was her marketing manager (pro bono) Eliza who made contact on her behalf and she suggested I might like to talk to Jo about her new website http://www.thehealthycyclist.com.au/
The new website is a collaboration between Eliza and Jo and reflects their common interest in health and wellbeing and Jo’s love of cycling. The content on the website is quite extensive and from my own experience I know it would have taken many hours of work.
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: