If you, like me, live in the UK, you’ll know that February can be a hard month – so often grey, dreary, dreich, and feeling like it will never end. Cyclocross is over, and the Spring Classics are yet to begin. But there are also so many positives too – sunny days feel so much better, for their rarity, and days are getting noticeably longer; the first Spring flowers are out; and in the women’s cycling world, we get tons of great film-ettes that remind us that the winter is nearly over.
I’ve seen three that I love this week – and they include a book giveaway too, because I’m sharing the joy and want to give two lucky readers a nice gift!
1. Lee Craigie’s ‘Escape’ film
You probably already know I’m a huge fan of the Adventure Syndicate, a group of women who share their bike-based adventures to inspire and encourage others to do more. One of the Founders, Lee Craigie, has made a little film for UK charity Sustrans, sharing her love of cycling as she rides the Caledonia Way.
It’s a gorgeous little film, combining a love of bike riding with gorgeous scenery, and Craigie’s soft Scottish accent. It’s uplifting, inspiring and happy, and you all should watch it!
You can find out more about Craigie’s thought process on making the film, in this article on Bikepacking.com – and of course, check out Craigie’s website, and follow her twitter, check out the Adventure Syndicate website, and follow their twitter, instagram and facebook too.
I interviewed Craigie and the Syndicate co-founder Emily Chappell back in May last year – listen here – and I’ll be speaking alongside them both at the Broken Spoke Co-op & Adventure Syndicate Women & Bicycles event in Oxford on 4th-5th March (I’m on the Saturday, first thing). Find out more, and book tickets.
2. The UCI’s 2017 Women’s WorldTour promos
I have reservations about some of the Women’s WorldTour, but I am unconditionally excited and thrilled for the Classics section of the competition, starting on 4th March with Strade Bianche. One of the things I’ve had doubts over is how well they promoted it as a series with an overall narrative – but I really love this little promo film, with Canyon-SRAM‘s Alexis Ryan talking about it what the series means to her:
I love the way the film was made – Ryan’s voice, full of emotion, and the jumps between the calm training ride and the full-on excitement of the racing. The editing really complements the words Ryan is saying. But most of all, I love that it gives the rider’s perspective, and view of the series.
It was the riders’ personalities and stories that drew me into the sport in the first place, as especially as we won’t get to see most of the WorldTour races live, I’ve wondered about the previous approach of trying to promote the series on the back of races we can’t see.
(I really liked the way the UCI’s 2016 WWT highlights, made by Felix Mattis and Niels Goudriaan, had a lot of the riders talking before and after the races, and of course I love all the rider interviews, and the films that focus on one rider or team – but a lot of the UCI promo clips have been a bit more, let’s say, generic, even across different discliplines. This 2017 WorldTour teaser, eg, has the amazing Megan Guarnier talking, but the focus seems to be on the UCI, rather than on what makes the racing special. If you don’t look at the pictures, it could be talking about any sport in the world; and if you do watch, there isn’t really anything about why the various races are so different. This isn’t Guarnier’s fault at all, because I loved her 2016 WorldTour recap video, she’s fantastic, and it’s edited from that, but clearly the UCI wanted a certain message in the teaser)
I put that paragraph in parentheses, because it’s a niggle, not a focus, and the important thing is I really enjoyed this new direction for the 2017 WorldTour, and I hope we see a lot more like this. I want more different kinds of takes on the races, and to get to know even more riders – talking about chance, and luck, and what it means to them and their teams, whether their days go well, or badly. Take chances, please, UCI! And above all, more rider voices!
Keep following the UCI YouTube, because they really do give us a lots of women’s cycling videos across all the disciplines, and I will always love them for that – and if you want to know which of the WorldTour and other races we’re likely to see live this season, I’ve got a list here, that I’ll be adding to throughout the season. And of course, I’ll put “How to watch/follow…” posts for the big races all the way through the year under the Live Cycling category on the site.
3. Elly Blue’s Biketopia kickstarter
It especially made me happy because the kickstarter goal of $5,000 was met with 2 weeks to go – and any extra money that’s made will be divided between the authors of the stories. I believe in this so much, that I’m going to buy 2 of these, for lucky readers – one will go to one of my Patreon supporters, and the other into a hat for anyone to get, Patreon or otherwise.
If you want to win a copy from me, let me know by 12:00 GMT on 24th February (13:00 CET, 7am EDT, 11pm AEST) and I’ll put your name in a hat! Patreon-types, check your email, because I have special instructions for you! You can enter in the comments below, on twitter, or by email at prowomenscycling [at] gmail [dot] com.
If you’re thinking “Why have I never known feminist bicycle science fiction existed before?”, then you can read the previous collections from Microcosm Press – in this handy $20 bundle, or follow the links in it to individual books – and of course, contribute to the Biketopia kickstarter, from just $10!
If you want more women’s cycling books, or books about cycling by women, I’ve got a number of booklists:
You can find all the women’s cycling things I see, as I see them, on my Women’s Cycling Tumblr, or of course on my twitter, where they’re interspersed with musings on the sport. And I always, always love it when people share links, thoughts or things they think I’d be interested in, on twitter or in the comments.
And just for the British women among you, if you’d like to get involved in helping other women realise they love cycling too…
As always, huge thanks to my Patreon supporters, who are the people who give me the impetus to keep up all my women’s cycling work (and fund me to enable me to!) – if you want to join them from just £/€/$ 2 a month, head over here.