I’ve covered a lot of riders in my mini-series on social media and women’s cycling, but eagle-eyed readers have been asking why I haven’t mentioned these three riders yet. It’s because I was saving them for a special post! These three are riders who transcend the (admittedly arbitrary) categories – and I’m always so happy to follow them, for everything they do!
Bridie O’Donnell – Vanderkitten-Focus
First up, the undisputed queen of commentweeting, Bridie O’Donnell. She’s the perfect person to follow, for everything you need to know about women’s and men’s cycling – in fact, if you only take one recommendation from this series, follow Bridie!
Her twitter, @Bridie_OD, is always fun – following her racing in the USA with Vanderkitten, photos, her thoughts on life, the universe and everything, and especially her opinions on all the biggest scandals and stories from the combined peloton. It’s both serious and snarky – and if you’re new to women’s racing, and want some top-notch commentary during the televised races, she’s the one you need. For the World Champs last year and the Olympic road race, she did what the tv commentators couldn’t – mixed excellent explanations of the tactics and the racing, mixed with superb anecdotes about the riders, and what it’s like to race alongside them. I’m really hoping she’ll be doing the same for the Worlds this year too, because big races aren’t the same without Bridie’s commentary!
She doesn’t stop at twitter though – she’s also an excellent blogger, writing about all the big cycling issues. You can read her posts collected on her own website , and she also writes pieces for the internet’s home of cycling snark, Cyclismas – if you follow this link, you’ll also find her appearances on the Cyclismas Cycling News video shows. Seriously, someone should pay Bridie a lot of money to be a full-time cyclist-and-cycling-commentator, she’s worth her weight in gold!
Amber Pierce – Diadora Pasta Zara
On the road, Amber Pierce can be found working her heart out in the formidable Diadora-Pasta Zara sprint train, riding for twice-World Champion, Giorgia Bronzini. Online…. well, here’s Pierce’s website, an entry-point to her various social media homes.
I love her twitter, @AmberMalika, for her pithy race-reporting-in-140-characters, and for how happy she always is for her team-mates’ wins. She’s not been blogging as much this year – on her own blog, or on Triple Crankset – but I can’t blame her, because this year she did something even better, that elevated her to Superstar status!
The Giro Donne is the biggest stage race of the year, the only Grand Tour left on the calendar. It’s 10 stages of hard-fought, hard racing, with some big transfers, with an hour of tv coverage every night on RAI (for more on this year’s race, see the coverage Monty and I wrote on Podium Café, it was so much fun! If you only read 1 thing, I made a highlights post) So it was even better that at the end of each stage, after getting to new hotels, supper, massage, etc etc, Amber got online, for livechats to tell us about the day.
The chats were streamed video, hosted on the Fuji Bikes Facebook page. Viewers could ask her questions there, or tweet her questions in advance, and she answered everything, from details of the day’s racing, to the everyday realities of what it’s like to be a rider in the women’s peloton, to questions about the personalities of her team-mates and the other women riders. they were great! She didn’t manage every night (some of the transfers and internet connections stopped that) but it was around 7 over the course of the race, and all fascinating, and very entertaining. I can still hear her saying “Goooooooood QUEStion!” in reply to things that popped up! It was this very fun, very generous thing to do, and man, the fans appreciated it!
It was also interesting because one of her friends set up the technology, and added to it as the race went on, so that people without facebook could ask questions. I’ve been following women’s cycling for a number of years, and I learned SO much from this – it’s one of the things that inspired me to want to promote the riders’ social media, especially after Amber told us all about how just clicking through to rider websites – and thanking sponsors on twitter etc – are little things fans can do to make a difference to riders and teams.
I hope she, and other riders, do more of this in the future, because it was one of my favourite cycling moments of the year. Since then, she’s been her usual fun self on twitter – follow her, and if you want to know more about the sport, ask her! She’s funny, friendly and approachable, the perfect social media star! Find out more about her in her 25 things post from November – she’s a former hatchet-throwing champion, among other things…!
Kathryn Bertine – Colavita ESPNw
I was first interested in Bertine through her quest to get a place at the 2012 Olympics, riding for St Kitts & Nevis, and her blogs and tweets about her life en route. She was combining her personal goals with working to support women’s cycling on the islands, and it was an interesting story…. but while she (unfortunately) didn’t get to London, she didn’t see it as failure, and has all kinds of successes on her journey, that’s taking her to some very different places
I hadn’t realised this was her second crack at the Olympics – the blurb for her book, As Good As Gold
Meet Kathryn Bertine, elite triathlete, former professional figure skater, and starving artist. In the summer of 2006, Bertine was out of a job, a home, and a general sense of direction when ESPN staked her to a dream: she was given two years to make the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing—by any means possible. As Good As Gold is the hilarious, heroic account of Bertine’s serial exertions in the realms of triathlon, modern pentathlon, team handball, track cycling, road cycling, rowing, open water swimming, racewalking, and—fasten your seatbelts—luge.
What I like about her is how she’s writing again for ESPNw. She used her London Calling series, about that journey, to promote a different rider in the American peloton, every time, in the sidebars of the column – and she’s writing about all kinds of things relating to women’s cycling – from tips for new cyclists to raising the issues of inequalities in women’s cycling – and what to do about it.
She’s also working on a project that could be huge for the sport – making a documentary on women’s cycling, that she kickstarted funding for, in true social media style, via indiegogo. And her twitter stream, @KathyrnBertine, is a brilliant place to find out news about women’s cycling, sport in the USA and all kinds of things.
So those are three of my superstars – I have a fourth, but I’ll talk about her next time, when I look beyond the road, at riders from other disciplines who have fabulous social media…… yes, I’m FINALLY going to be talking about one of my all-time favourites, Helen Wyman!
To find more great riders to follow, check out the rest of my Social Media Series