I always love the people involved in women’s cycling who look at what’s not there and think “right, I’ll fix that”, so I’m a big fan of Heather Bamforth, who, when she came back to cycling after years out focusing on work and looked at what wasn’t there for women like her in the North West of England, has made a huge difference. She’s done some really interesting things, setting up a league of races in the area, with a special focus on getting first-timers racing, coordinating race skills sessions for newbies with a racing league for Category 2/3 and 4 riders, and most recently being one of the founders of the Racing Change Foundation, which raises money to help everyone from first-timers to riders who want to make the jump to elite racing abroad.
We talked about all this and more, and you can listen to it here (click through to download it):
If you want to join the Racing Change Foundation club, from anywhere in the UK, for just £5, the information is here. Their website is full of useful information like their calendar of race training sessions and races to enter, and you can also support them by donating to the Foundation or buying their kit and clothing. Follow them on twitter and facebook as well, and the Racing Chance Women’s Racing Forum group is on facebook.
Heather gave a lot of shout-outs to different people she works with, including (but not limited to!) Huw Williams, Colin Batchelor and Team 22, Alan Gornall, Carley Brierly and Anna Magrath – follow them too!
It really is fantastic that we’re getting so much women’s cyclocross live – two of the three big seasons, streamed pretty much everywhere (sorry USA – check out my solutions here), and the next up is round 3 of the 2015-6 bpost bank trofee, the KwadrO Flandriencross in Hamme on Sunday 28th November 2015. As you can guess from the name, we’re in Flanders, still, and the course is usually muddy, with woodland sections, and a part that seems to go right through the beer tent! Ah, cyclocross!
The women’s race starts at 13:45 European CET (12:45pm UK GMT; 7:45am USA EST; 11:45pm Aussie AEDT), and the men’s race starts at 15:00 CET (2pm GMT; 9am EST; 1am AEDT), and the Sporza livestreams is un-restricted, via their race matchcenter, or you can watch another stream on the bpost page that goes up on the day of each race is available pretty much everywhere, or via this link. If that doesn’t work for you, try the usual places. Startlists are here (women = vrouwen) and there are more ways to follow the racing on my guide.
If you can’t wait for Sunday, you can always re-live last weekend’s racing, starting with the Soudal Classic in Hasselt…
But that was just the start! Then there was the fantastic, CX-iconic sand-dune race, Koksijde! Here are the highlights, and the full race replay:
There aren’t official ‘Monuments’ of cyclocross, like there are in road racing, but pretty much every fan agrees Koksijde is one of the biggest races of the season. It’s on sand dunes on a military base next to the North Sea (& next to a WWI cemetery) and it’s SO hard… and we get to watch it live!
The races are on Sunday 22nd November 2015, and they’ll be streamed on Belgian station Sporza (try their Koksijde Match Center), which may or may not be geo-restricted, and on the UCI youtube with English commentary, free most places (USA people can’t see it because Cycling TV have bought the rights, and have a pay-for stream). The women’s race starts at 13:30 European CET (12:30pm UK GMT; 7:30am USA EST; 11:30pm Aussie AEDT) and the UCI stream is here, and the men’s race starts at 15:00 CET (2pm GMT; 9am EST; 1am AEDT) and the men’s UCI stream is here. If you can’t watch live, the races will be archived at those links straight after.
If you click through to those streams now, you can see if they’ll be restricted in your area – if they are, there’ll be streams in the usual places – and here’s more advice on how to watch and follow CX live (get a VPN!).
To get you in the mood before the race starts, check out the race website, including the course map, twitter and facebook. The startlist, with numbers, will be here, I’ve got a twitter list of cyclocross women, so you can see how they’re preparing, and Helen Wyman will be taking over the UCI women’s cycling instagram for the weekend, so follow that too!
I am always interested in the wider debates about how to get more people cycling, in the UK, because that’s where I’m based, and elsewhere. I’m especially interested in how these are framed – my work history includes a lot of work on areas of deprivation, increasing equality and so on, so I’m especially interested in work that looks at the way issues of gender, ethnicity and diversity intersect, as well as poverty/wealth. So I love the work of Dr Rachel Aldred, a Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Westminster who, among other things, has set up the Near Miss Project which is pretty self explanatory.
Her latest piece on her site is ‘Culture, Equity and Cycling Infrastructure‘, and it has so much information about how different groups using cycling in different ways, and issues that need to be tackled at all kinds of levels. I especially appreciate the fact she places infrastructure at the heart of it all, because that chimes with my own personal experiences. I was going to pull out some quotes out to illustrate it, but really, you should click through and read it all, it packs a lot of interconnected information in, with a really engaging mix of academic and personal background.
Coming from a different direction is one of my favourite cycling bloggers, Lindsay Barlow, whose piece ‘Let’s talk about bike-ism: You don’t get to judge me for my Lycra‘ has a serendipitous link to Aldred’s article through the conversations about cycling stigma and infrastructure. Lindsay talks about her frustrations at the negativity and judgement both from non-cyclists and media and from within parts of the cycling community, and I love her very personal framing. There’s anger there, especially talking about the death of a member of her cycling community, but it’s that kind of anger that can be a catalyst for change, and that’s really important.
Of course you can follow both of these writers on twitter at @RachelAldred and @TourdeLindsayB. And if you, like me, are interested in women’s participation in cycling, or women and sport in general, some more things, which you have probably seen already, but they’re worth repeating:
- An obituary for Eileen Gray, a British cyclist who founded the Women’s Cycle Racing Association, and was a key campaigner in enabling women to race internationally
- Women In Sport (UK) report Trophy Women: No more board games, on women’s participation in national sports boards
- Sport England’s recent presentation on their research about how to get more women into sport, Go where women are. I was a bit frustrated with how it glossed over financial/travel issues, but aside from that, it’s full of really strong messages.
- Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign to get more women and girls involved in sport, referenced in Aldred’s piece and the Sport England report, which is doing some really interesting work, especially around media images of women and sport.
- Videos from Microcosm Publishing: Groundswell #3: Color Lines & Bike Lanes, on work by Veronica Davis and Najima Davis, co-founders of Black Women Bike DC, and Monica Garrison, the founder of Black Girls Do Bike in the USA to get more black women riding, and a webinar from the League of American Bicyclists: Women Bike, Women Lead, about the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Multicultural Communities for Mobility‘s leadership programme for helping women, especially women of colour, become community leaders and cycling advocates.
As always, if you’ve seen more links on these topics that you’d like to share, please do tell me in the comments, or on twitter, and I’ll put up another post of them.
One of my very favourite of the online women’s cycling fans is Peter van der Veen, who I’m sure a lot of you know from his twitter, and from all the work he does over on Cycling Fever. Here he explains the qualification system for the women’s road cycling in Rio 2016.
You might have heard riders and media talking about 2015 being a pre-Olympic year and thus very important in preparation for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But whereas it for some riders it is more a matter of having a good season and a forming a good basis for the Olympics most other riders are more concerned with getting there in the first place!
As you might know there will be a Individual Time Trial and a Road Race in Rio. Qualification goes by nation meaning a nation gets a spot and can select the rider they want. So Linda Villumsen who is the current world champ ITT can miss the Olympics if New Zealand selectors decide not to select her. This can be convenient in case of injuries so they can appoint a different rider or in a situation like Marianne Vos who currently does not contribute to The Netherlands spot on the ranking but can get a spot on the road team in favour of one of the riders who scored a lot of points, say Kirsten Wild.
The qualification rules for Rio are at times difficult to understand but even more difficult is see where a nation or rider is in the qualification process. First I will focus on the rules. Every ITT rider also needs to ride the RR or at least be on the startlist, and this can be problematic for certain nations, but more on that later.
Qualification for the road race can be done in several ways
I have to admit, I’ve never really been a fan of The Hour Record, but when I read that Bridie O’Donnell is going to be making her attempt at it on 22nd January 2016, in Adelaide, I had to find out more, as I am a fan of Dr O’Donnell. So she told me all about it, including why it’s the perfect cycling challenge for a scientist, how much it will cost, and some diversions around other things she’s been up to. It’s a longer interview, but I could have listened to Bridie talk for hours about this.
Listen to Bridie talk here (1:03:31 mins/61 MB)
Bridie’s being supported in her Hour Record attempt by a lot of people, but especially Rod and Barbara Dux of Dux Dreams Foundation, Ben Young at Frank Green, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Sport Scientists Dr Stephen Lane PhD and Ken Ballhause B.Sc at HPTek. Check out everything they do! If you want to cheer her on (in fancy dress!) then it’ll be at Adelaide SuperDrome on 22nd January 2016, and streamed live worldwide too.
Follow Bridie on her website, Instagram and twitter – and if you can think of a better hashtag for her Hour than #BridiesHour, please do let her know. Her team is Total Rush Hyster, and Cycling Australia will be showing highlights of all the Subaru National Road Series races they’re competing in on their Youtube. And if you know an Irish piper who can play her in in Adelaide on 22nd January, please do let her know as well!
Bridie’s SISU Girls podcasts are available here, and if you’re in Australia, you can catch her as the resident doctor on Channel 10’s The Project tv news show. You can also listen to my previous podcast interview with Bridie from September 2014, and Part 1 and Part 2 of her appearance on Osher Günberg’s properly pro podcast from December 2014.
I’m funded to do these interviews by my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you so much! I’ll keep you all up-to-date with Bridie’s progress here on the site.
2015 was such a great year for women’s cycling and so we take a look back at our favourite races and moments from the year. We also take a bit of time to look at the lowlights and to sum up our view of the impact of 2015 on women’s cycling overall. Also, Sarah plays a trick on Dan and also Dan laughs so hard he loses the ability to swear. (1:03:55 MIN / 61.38 MB)
To stream the spookiest women’s cycling podcast of the week, click here (right-click, save-as to download).
Tell us about your highlights for 2015 in the comments below or on twitter. We’d love to reminisce about anything we’ve missed!