One of the reasons Dan and I set up The Unofficial Unsanctioned Social Media Jersey was because we wanted to promote the cyclists who are using social media to share their stories. So welcome to part 1 in a series highlighting some of the ways riders use social media – starting with six of my favourite bloggers. This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ll come back to blogging later, but if you have any recommendations for me, put them in the comments, and I’ll share them all later.
And remember that just clicking through helps riders demonstrate they’re worth following to sponsors – so it really helps to click through, comment, share them and add to your bookmarks to come back to, so you can click again!
Marijn de Vries – AA Drink-Leontien.nl
Ever since she started on her road to becoming a pro cyclist, Marijn de Vries has been sharing everything with us along the way. She came late to racing, having worked as a journalist and TV producer, and now she combines racing with writing – from the book she wrote with Nynke de Jong, Vrouw & Fiets (a cycling handbook for women) to articles in Dutch magazines, to her blog and twitter.
I love her blog! There’s a lot more on the Dutch side of it that google translate can help non-Dutch speakers read, but recently she’s also been getting posts translated into English, too. My favourites? Well, I love her insights into real life in the women’s races, such as the secrets behind ponytails, what it’s really like to be racing, and the sisterly cooperation (or lack of it) in the peloton – and I always refer the guys who say women can’t ride long races, because of bathroom breaks, to her guide to how to pee! She’s very honest, very entertaining, and I recommend having a dig around her site. Her profile is here, and if the translating-gnomes mangle that for you, here’s an interview I did with her on Podium Café from 2010 – and if you want to follow her on Twitter, she’s @marijnfietst
(It’s one of my annoyances in life that Marijn’s book is only available in Dutch – so if anyone knows anyone who could publish an English-language version too…)
Clara Hughes – Specialized-lululemon
Clara Hughes is a bona fide superstar, who started off cycling (winning two Olympic bronze medals in 1996) before moving to speed skating (winning numerous World Champs’ titles, and a gold, a silvers and two bronzes over three Winter Olympics) – and then recently returning to cycling to race one last Summer Olympics. Alongside that, she does a huge amount of work for charities, and is an advocate for mental health issues, fronting the Canadian ‘Let’s Talk‘ campaign.
She rode the North American domestic circuit last year, then this year signed to super-team Specialized-lululemon, and she’s been blogging regularly about how it’s going – from feeling like she’s at summer camp, to being in so much pain in the Giro that other riders attack to put her out of her misery and being scared shitless in Belgium – and she shares her favourite soup recipes on Soup Wednesday!
Annemiek van Vleuten – Rabobank
Lots of the Dutch riders have great personal websites (for example, Iris Slappendel, Marianne Vos, Loes Gunnewijk, Ellen van Dijk, Kirsten Wild and Martine Bras) but Annemiek van Vleuten‘s is one of my top favourites.
She has links to different media which feature her, including a really handy page of videos, a photo page, for her own and other people’s photos of races, training and everyday life, and, of course, her blog.
It’s a particularly good one, too, with those photos and videos edited in, so you can see her experiences on one handy page – I like her post from Tuscany, and her post-Olympic blog as examples. You’ll notice that a lot of her posts are about winning – if you’re new to women’s racing, she’s one of the huge names, racing for Rabobank alongside Marianne Vos, and winning the Road World Cup series last year – but she’s also very honest about how it feels when, for example, she broke her collarbone in the Giro Donne (and rode for three or four stages on it before noticing, but that’s another story….!)
Ashleigh Moolman – Lotto Belisol
Ash Moolman is a South African rider who joined the European women’s peloton in 2010, and she brought a huge passion for the sport with her. You can follow her blog, her flickr and her twitter – most recently it’s been about the road that lead her to the London 2012 Olympic Games, and her Olympic experiences. Her posts are full of photos, and a sense of how lucky she feels to be able to be competing on the highest levels, as well as the differences between living in South Africa and racing in Europe.
Emma Johansson – Hitec Product-Mistral Home
Emma Johansson is one of the very best women cyclists in the world, and she’s also got a really fun blog. She doesn’t update it as much as the others I’ve featured (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but when she does, it’s always worth following.
She’s had a difficult 2012 – at her pre-season training in Tenerife, she was hit by a car, and broke both her collar-bones. She posted photos of her scars, once she got back onto the bike in rehab, and has been very honest about the ups and downs of her season – so I was especially pleased to see her win the final day of the biggest women’s stage race of the year, the Giro Donne, and then blog all about it!
Johansson probably tweets more than she blogs, but she’s worth following on both platforms – and here’s hoping her bad times are behind her, now!
Rachel Neylan – Abus-Nutrixxion
My final blogger is Australian rider, Rachel Neylan, who’s riding for one of the smaller teams – but that makes her insights even more interesting. She was a physiotherapist before turning to pro cycling, and she has an excellent blog and twitter, with the kinds of photos that will make you eat your heart out with jealousy! She’s so much fun to follow, I can’t recommend her enough!
As I said at the top, these are just six of the bloggers – if you want more, a great place to start is CQ Rankings’ page of rider websites. I also can’t write about blogging without a tip of the hat to Vicki Whitelaw – she may be retired now, but I fondly remember the times when her blog, and Liz Hatch’s tweets gave us the only news on women’s races. Thank you, Vicki and Liz! Just imagine, you two helped inspire all of this!
I’ll come back to bloggers later in the series, so if you have any recommendations, add them to the comments, and I’ll share those too. Although some of the riders you might think I’ve missed will be turning up in different categories, later in the series – check back to see!
Next: Blogging on team websites…