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Category Archive: Professional cycling
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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.
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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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One thing I’m beginning to learn as I dabble in the world of professional sport which is something I haven’t really done before is that things can change quickly. A sponsor pulls out unexpectedly, an injury occurs or in Kate Bate’s case an injury reoccurs. I originally spoke to Kate a couple of weeks ago and she told me all about how her focus was on the London Olympics.
So I wrote my blog post and as I sometimes do I sent it to Kate to fact check to make sure I’d got all the details right. I got a surprising and apologetic email back about 12 hours later to say everything had changed and Kate would be announcing her retirement the next day. Kate’s a very humble and kind women and she was actually apologising to me that she’d messed up my story. But never mind, I’ve salvaged it with a new angle. Easy done.
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.