It was great to see some ABCcoverage for a women’s cycling training/selection camp last week in Canberra. It’s interesting to note that after reading this story you would assume that Cycling Australia is behind this great initiative, but I believe it’s actually Rochelle Gilmore who made a commitment to take six female cyclists to Europe this year. Rochelle who owns and manages Wiggle Honda in the UK committed to this idea after Cycling Australia suspended its funding of the women’s elite program in Europe. Well done Rochelle.
Here’s the story as it ran on the ABC online:
A group of Australia’s most promising female cyclists have been put to the test in Canberra this week for the opportunity to join the Australian cycling team on tour in Europe.
The riders will remain under the close watch of selectors at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) where they are in the final days of the gruelling knock-out style selection camp, that will conclude on Sunday.
Eight hopeful cyclists have made it through to the final days of the camp, from an initial group of 18, with further cuts to be made in the coming days.
I love words and mojo is amongst my favourites. Apparently it is of African derivation meaning magic, but over time like many words its meaning has changed and it’s now associated with self-confidence. My own interpretation of cycling mojo is when you lose interest, or fall out of love with the wonderful activity of cycling. My own interest has waned at times but I’ve always managed to get it back. Recently one of my favourite cycling buddies lost her cycling mojo and I’d like to help her get it back. Here’s a few tips for any women (or men) out there who find themselves adrift.
Just do it
I sometimes wake up in the early morning and want to go back to sleep, but I force myself to get out of bed because I know that I will be happy when I’m on the bike and when I return from my ride. I have never been on a ride that I have regretted, so I focus on this thought when I’m tempted to turn my alarm clock off and roll over. Just push through that feeling and you’ll be rewarded.
Organise to meet a buddy
If you commit to a friend to meet up for a ride then you are far more likely to get out of bed. My friends and I always leave each other with a ‘thanks for the ride’, because we are grateful for each other’s company, and we might not have turned up if we weren’t committed to each other. The night before a ride send out a few text messages and make a firm commitment to meet up. Then don’t let your friends down.
I had a small accident on my bike last week and came away from it largely unscathed, just some very large bruises and a couple of grazes. I was also lucky that my bike has only minor scratches but it could have been way worse. It reminded me that there are certain things you should do if you happen to be involved in a minor accident on your bike.
So here’s a few tips:
Assess yourself first
If you are in significant pain and you’re lying on the ground then take your time to get up, and accept the help of others who have first aid training. If you are in a dangerous situation, like the middle of a road then ask others for assistance to alert traffic until you are able to move. Once you’re on your feet make your own assessment of your physical condition. If you feel that you are unable to get back on your bike then call for assistance from a friend or family member who can pick you up in a car. Obviously if you can’t get up, because you are badly injured, you or someone with you, should call an ambulance.
Specialized’s Amy Shreve (centre) with her small 29er mountain bike
One of the interesting/rewarding things about writing a blog is that you can check out how many people are viewing it. My analysis isn’t particularly sophisticated, but it is very interesting to see what topics are the most popular with my readers. By far the most popular blog posts I’ve written are about bikes for short women.
I can’t be sure why this is occurring but my best guess is that short women are not getting the information they need when they visit a local bike shop. To me it’s a sad indictment of the bike industry because there are plenty of bikes available for short women. I know this because I work in a bike shop and I constantly have short female customers who ask me about buying kid’s bikes to ride themselves. I always reply that despite their short stature, nearly all women can buy an adult women’s bike. Some are still insistent that they want to buy a kid’s bike but I’ve never met a short female customer who I couldn’t find an adult sized bike to sell them.
The majority of decent bike manufacturers make bikes in extra small sizes. By decent, I mean main stream brands like Specialized, Trek, Giant and many others. You will find that very cheap bikes like those sold in discount department stores probably won’t be available in extra small sizing, but if you’re buying something of such poor quality, you can’t expect a big choice.
Kaarle receives her recent World Champs bronze medal with team mate Anna Meares
I caught up with track cyclist Kaarle McCulloch last week to hear about her challenging last few years and her future plans to be in the team for the Rio Olympic Games next year.Like many female cyclists Kaarle didn’t take up cycling until fairly late in her sporting life. Up until the age of 15 she was firmly focused on running but realised that she was pretty good, but not quite good enough to go the Olympics, a dream she had harboured since she was 12 years old.
She had no interest in cycling but was persuaded by her step father Ken Bates who had a keen interest in the sport to give it a go. It only took a few laps on the track and she was hooked. That was at her local track in Sydney’s south, and within a few short period of time she was holding her first junior world medal.
By 2008 she was riding alongside Anna Meares and her sister Kerry in the senior world champs and World Cup events. She attributes her early success to the work ethic she had developed in her running.
If you take up riding in your 30s or 40s as many of us do, one area you need to focus on if you want to advance, is to learn some bike skills. As children most of us rode a bike, but the majority of us were not formally taught, so we didn’t have the chance to learn any bike skills and this particularly applies to women.
In my experience in meeting many female cyclists, women tend to approach cycling quite differently to men. Although many of us rode bikes as kids we usually did a few laps around the neighbourhood and didn’t jump off gutters, perform wheel stands or other daredevil acts like our male counterparts.
The good news is that it’s easy to improve your bike skills. Here’s a few tips on how to improve your skills in areas like cornering, pedalling, safe braking, descending, climbing, riding in a bunch and more.
If you think the Gong Ride or Around the Bay is a serious challenge, then think again. A few weeks ago I was contacted by a team of women who are training for a huge race/relay called Race Across America that takes place each year in June. Last year I wrote about two American women tackling it and this time it’s a team of four Australian women calling themselves the Veloroos – Natasha Horne, Sarah Matthews, Julie-Anne Hazlett and Nicole Stanners.
Race Across America known as RAAM is a race but instead of being in stages it is one continual ride similar to a time trial. Once the clock starts it does not stop until the finish line. RAAM is about 30% longer than the Tour de France and is not limited to professional cyclists. While solo racers must qualify to compete, anyone may organise a team and race.
Racers must traverse 3000 miles (4,828 km) across 12 states and climb over 170,000 vertical feet (51,816 metres). Team racers have a maximum of nine days and most finish in about seven and a half days. Teams will ride 350-500 miles a day, racing non-stop. Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, with the fastest finishing in just over eight days. Solo racers will ride 250-350 miles a day, balancing speed and the need for sleep.
I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by the PR agency promoting a Melbourne-based mass particpation cycling event called the MS Melbourne Cycle being held on Sunday, 19 April. One of the Ambassadors of the event is an Australian Para-cyclist who was diagnosed with MS 17 years ago, so I caught up with Carol Cooke via email.
Q1: Why did you decide on cycling as your sport after your MS diagnosis?
I didn’t really decide on cycling as a sport after my diagnosis. I had always been a swimmer and continued to swim after my diagnosis. In 2005 I was asked by the Australian Paralympic Committee to come to a talent search day. When I did I found that I was 24 years older than the oldest person there but I went through the testing and a couple of weeks later I was asked to take up the sport of rowing. Rowing was a new inclusion in the Beijing Paralympic Games. I did take it up and made the national crew in 2008, we attempted to qualify for Beijing but unfortunately missed by 0.8 of a second. I continued rowing and competed at the 2009 World Championships where our crew came 6th, so I figured that I would be in London for rowing. Unfortunately in 2010 Rowing Australia decided they weren’t interested in our crew. In early 2011 one of my rowing team mates called me, she had taken up Para Cycling and told me that there was a Trike category in Para Cycling. I had been riding a trike just as cross training back and forth to rowing. So my first competition was in April of 2011 at the National Para Cycling Championships and I haven’t looked back.
A couple of weeks ago Melanie from Cycling Victoria made contact with me and asked if I’d like to write about an event she’s organising called The Women’s Ride. I was intrigued to know more about it so I happily agreed to publish a post about this great event.
The Women’s Ride is a single day celebration of women’s riding. It’s Victoria’s first mass participation riding event designed especially for women, where individuals, organisations, clubs, social riding groups, bike shops or groups of friends are invited to submit a ride or event taking place on Sunday, 12 April 2015.
I was impressed to see the Melanie is the Women and Girl’s Development Officer at Cycling Victoria. It’s great that Cycling Victoria has someone in that role. I was also pleased to see that the name of the event incorporates the word ‘Women’ rather than ‘Ladies’ and that the logo is not pink (or at least only a little pink). Well done Cycling Victoria.
I’m of the view that anyone who rides a bike can call themselves a cyclist, although I’m sure when I started riding a road bike more than six years ago, it took me at least a few years before I’d tell people – “I’m a cyclist”.
A friend of mine sent me a link to an ABC report about an advertising campaign from the UK called “This Girl Can”. It’s spread through social media and is obviously resonating with lots of women, including me.