Sarah interviews… Isla Rowntree, on transforming cycling

Isla Rowntree is most well-known for starting IslaBikes, a company that transformed children’s bicycles, with all kinds of child-friendly innovations.  If you look up reviews, or ask online, they’re always the top recommendation and influencer, and right now there are kids everywhere loving cycling because of Rowntree’s work.

But she’s also helped transform women’s cycling before that, being a key figure in the fight to let women race cyclocross.  When Rowntree started, the GB National Championships were only for men, as were the World Cups and World Championships – and she was a major part of the fight to change that.

And she doesn’t stop taking risks and fighting for change.  Rowntree is currently working on the Imagine Project, to make children’s bikes sustainable, in a future where resources will become scarcer – through recycling, but also exciting new models of renting rather than buying bikes.  It’s a fascinating project – and as she says, a risky one personally and for her company.

We talk about all that, the challenges of effecting change – and you can listen to our conversation, or read the transcript below.

We didn’t get into the questions specifically about children’s bikes, because there are a lot of interviews with Rowntree about that out there.  A selection of interviews and articles:

And more about the Imagine ProjectBBC news item on the Circular Economy and on the project, and interviews on the Guardian and Cyclesprog – and watch the video:

Find out more about Islabikes on their website, twitter, facebook, instagram and YouTube – including their great articles on teaching a child to ride, cycling to school, and lots of ideas and tips including riding as a family, starting kids racing and more. And you can follow Isla Rowntree on her twitter too.

If you want your child to test-ride a bike, there are events all over the UK – including the Islabikes pop-up shop in Battersea, on 7-9th April 2017.

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ProWomensCycling:  Can you start by telling us a little bit about how you got into cycling?

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Catherine Marsal’s amazing life in cycling – now in writing!

Catherine Marsal has had an amazing life in cycling.  The Frenchwoman was an Olympian at 17 in 1988, the first ever women’s Junior Road World Champion in 1987, and the Elite World Champion in her first year as an elite in 1990; struggling for a few years, then becoming World Champion in the Hour Record in 1995; winning the Giro and the Tour de l’Aude Grand Tours; working as a Directeur Sportif before retiring from cycling, and then coming back to the sport as women’s road coach for the Danish Cycling Federation.

She’s seen a lot, and I talked to her about all this, the difficulties of becoming World Champion at a young age, racing with (and against) Jeannie Longo, and of course, the amazing results of the young Danish women, especially in the last week, when 2016 Road World Champion Amalie Dideriksen won 2017 WorldTour #2, the Ronde van Drenthe, and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig won the GC at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, and then came third in WorldTour #3, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

Of course I think you should listen to my podcast with Marsal, but for those of you who prefer to read interviews, I’ve written part of it up below.

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ProWomensCycling:  It’s a little bit exciting for Danish cycling right now, isn’t it?

Catherine Marsal:  We are on a cloud!  Things have been going very well since the beginning of the season, the girls are improving so well, every race sees a new adventure, and I’m looking forward to every weekend, to see what’s going to happen next.

PWC: Did you expect that the Danes would do so well this year?

Marsal:  I was expecting – and hoping – that Amalie Dideriksen could express herself, and show her rainbow jersey.  Amalie is not World Champion by chance, she’s a rider who has being working so hard and getting results – maybe not always seen by the media, but she’s been progressing, and the World Champion’s title is something she had in the corner of her mind.  It was very important for her to win a WorldTour race in that jersey, and confirm to the world that she is the World Champion.

PWC:  She won Drenthe in such beautiful style – Boels-Dolmans rode the race so well, and she got into a break with some really clever riders, and just trusted herself.

Marsal:  She has such an instinct for racing, that is unbelievable for her age.  She knows how to handle a very tricky situation like that, and she has a very strong capacity to handle the pressure, and what we expect from her.  That will give her so much strength for the future. Continue reading

Sarah interviews… Catherine Marsal, on her amazing career in cycling

Catherine Marsal is a legend of women’s cycling and French cycling in general. Racing her first Olympic Games at 17, becoming the first ever Junior Road World Champion, and then the first woman to ever be Junior and Elite Road World Champion; winning World Championships golds as a Junior on the track in the Individual Pursuit and in the Team Time Trial; winning the Giro d’Italia, and another of the (now lost) Grand Tours, the Tour de l’Aude twice; and becoming the World Hour Record champion… and much more.

After she finished racing, she was a Directeur Sportif for Team SATS, and then after a break from cycling to do a degree and work in business, three years ago she took the job of women’s coach/manager for the Danish National Team – which has, of course, included being team coach when Amalie Dideriksen became the 2016 Road World Champion.

We talked about her amazing life in cycling, the ups and downs, racing with/against Jeannie Longo, and of course, the incredible results of the Danish women, and a lot more.  Marsal is fantastic to talk to, and was super-patient despite technical issues in the call, and if you’re at all interested in how cycling’s change since the 1990s, the experience of young riders who become World Champions, or Danish cycling, please do listen!

Update!  If you prefer to read interviews, I’ve written up part of it, over here.

You can follow Marsal on her twitter, and on facebook.

If you want to see the videos of some of the races we talked about, links to the 2016 Road World Championships, the 2017 Ronde van Drenthe, and Marsal breaking that Hour Record:

Podcasting on podcasting – the meta interview with Lindsay Bayer and Abby Mickey

I have always been a fan of how women bike riders have made their own media, so I was really excited when two American riders started their separate, and very different podcasts.  Abby Mickey, who rides for Colavita-Bianchi, has been interviewing riders she’s raced alongside, and with; while Lindsay Bayer, who’s the co-owner, manager and rider for Hagens Berman-Supermint, is talking to people involved in women’s cycling in different ways, and a different setting (mostly involving alcohol).

I wanted to know more about them both – so I invited them on for probably my most meta podcast ever – podcasting about podcasting!  We talk about a lot more too – why Bayer started her own team, how both of them have almost always ridden for female-run teams, how to spot Mickey’s mother at races, and much more.  Have a listen – it’s only half an hour long!

 

 

You can find Lindsay Bayer on her website, the Dirtfield, and on her twitter, facebook and instagram, and her podcast, Dirtfield Recordings, is part of the Wide-Angle Podium network, and also on iTunes and the podcast twitter.  She also writes a regular column at Peloton Magazine.  The team she co-owns, Hagens Berman Supermint, has a website, twitter, facebook and instagram.

Abby Mickey‘s podcast, Wheel Talk, is on her website, on the Wheel Talk podcast page and iTunes, and also on the Wheel Talk twitter, and you can follow her personal social media, too: twitter and instagram.  Mickey rides for, Colavita-Bianchi, which you can follow via their website, twitter and instagram too.

Big thanks to my Patreon supporters, who generously fund me to do this kind of work.

Sarah interviews…. Ellen Noble on her amazing cyclocross season

Podcast interview logoThe 2016/17 cyclocross season has been an amazing one for Ellen Noble, the 21-year-old American rider who not only won the U23 Cyclocross World Cup series (and came 6th overall in the elite women’s series), but finished the season coming second in the U23 Cyclocross World Championships, with some incredible descending skills.

She tells me all about how it’s been, what’s helped her get here, and where she wants to go next, with a lot more – including how she felt when the USA cycling media said there was no chance of an American getting onto the podium at the U23 Worlds!  Listen to our interview here:

 

 

You can find out more about Ellen on her website, and follow her adventures on her twitter, her instagram and her facebook.  Ellen’s teams are Aspire Racing in cyclocross, and she’ll race the 2017 road season with Colavita Bianchi.

Watch the videos of the women’s races at the 2017 Cyclocross World Championships – both the U23 and elite races are some of the best you’ll ever see!

Big thanks to my wonderful Patreon supporters, who fund me to do this kind of thing.

What do riders think about the 2017 Cyclocross World Championships? Q&A with Marianne Vos, Sophie de Boer and Christine Majerus

It’s the Cyclocross World Championships!  And 2017 has probably the biggest field of possible winners ever – it’s going to be a fantastic race, and such luxury that we can watch it live.  I asked Marianne Vos, Sophie de Boer and Christine Majerus some questions about the race, and you can read what they said.

Marianne Vos

Vos is going for her eighth World title!  Listen to her talk, or read the transcript below:

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Emily Chappell on changing the world

Podcast interview logo2016 has been tough for a lot of people, and what with politics, the economy, Daylight Savings Times in the northern hemisphere, and so on, a lot of people are feeling bleak right now.  So when Emily Chappell suggested we podcast on how the women’s cycling world is changing for the better, and how we can all have positive impacts on that, I jumped at the chance.

We talked about Emily’s own year – winning the women’s TransContinental race (read her blog about that!), and her other successes (including having her book published) and also about the Adventure Syndicate.  I can’t quote believe it hasn’t been around for even a year, but wow, those women have done so many great things.  All this, and more – including Emily’s and my pledges for our own 2017 cycling challenges (Emily says she’ll try cyclocross, if someone will show her how, so if that’s you, get in touch with her!).  Listen to it all – and scroll down for the usual tons of links.

You can find Emily on her website, her twitter and her instagram – and of course, please buy her (first) book – What Goes Around: A London Cycle Courier’s Story(If you’re not sure, Feargal McKay reviewed the book on Podium Café, and I interviewed Emily about it which you can listen to or read some of).

The Adventure Syndicate has a fantastic website, and a great twitter you should be following, an instagram and facebook too, of course.  I talked to Emily and Lee Craigie about their hopes for the Syndicate back in May, which you can listen to if you want to see how it compares to now!

Posts about the Adventure Syndicate’s North Coast 500 record-breaking ride, and the trip with (extra)ordinary women later on.

The Syndicate is running a Winter Training Camp for female endurance cyclists in Girona, in January 2017 – find out more and book places here.

You can support the Syndicate’s Crowdfunder for that gorgeous-looking book about Lee and other riders’ adventures at the Highland Trail 550it closes on Friday 22nd November 2016, but it’ll also be for sale afterwards through the Adventure Syndicate website.  Check out the blogpost about how the initial crowd-funder reached it’s goal in 24 hours, so they’ve added stretch goals, to help support the Syndicate’s work inspiring and enabling women and girls to have their own cycling adventures.

You can get a little taster in this interview with Lee Craigie on BikePacking.com.  And because I love this project so much, I’ll buy a basic crowdfunder copy of this for one blog reader – leave me a comment below, or tweet me by 21st November 2016 telling me you want this, and I’ll pull a name out of a hat.

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If you want to read more books by Adventure Syndicate members’ cycling feats, check out Juliana Buhring‘s book This Road I Ride: My incredible journey from novice to fastest woman to cycle the globe (and read Feargal McKay‘s review on Podium Café) and Sarah Outen’s second book about her quest to kayak and cycle across the globe despite illness and crazy conditions, Dare to Do: Taking on the planet by bike and boat.

Emily is on the cover of the first edition of the new women’s cycling magazine, Casquette (her and Nicole Cooke!)  You can pick up that mag for free from lots of mostly London-based places, or get it posted to you for shipping costs, with your choice of covers, via this page, and the article about Emily is on the website.

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VeloVixen, the online store for women’s cycling clothing, were the people behind the Women’s Cycling Hub at the Birmingham Cycle Show – if you want to watch (or re-live) any of the talks from that, watch the videos.

Emily wrote a great piece for Total Women’s Cycling about women who are beating the men in cycling – something she predicted would happen, back on this 2012 blog.

Linked to that, we mentioned Sarah Hammond‘s fantastic Ultra-Endurance riding – you can listen to an interview with her after she finished the TransAm and watch her videos from Race to the Rock on Ella Cycling Tips.

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Emily and I talked about our own cycling pledges for 2017 – and if you have an idea of one that you need helping out with, but don’t know where to start, please do leave a question in the comments, or tweet me, and I’ll find you someone who can help.

I’m funded to do this kind of women’s cycling work thanks to my super-generous Patreon supporters, who pay from £/€/$ 2 a month – thank you, from the bottom of my heart.