Letter from the Editor: Welcome to Ella

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I’m incredibly grateful to share the labour of love that is Ella with all you today. It’s both a beginning and an end – as the behind-the-scenes work that we’ve been tirelessly plugging away at to prepare for launch begins to die down and the demands of running a live website with a real audience become a reality.

When I published my first Letter from the Editor two months ago, many of you piped up with questions in the comments section. I want to use this letter as an opportunity to answer some of the queries raised.

Many of you expressed concerns about the need for a women’s specific site, wondering why this content wouldn’t simply be housed on the main site.

All the women’s cycling content will live on the CyclingTips website under women’s cycling, and any content created for Ella that we imagine will have a broader appeal beyond our female audience will also be included in the news or feature sections. Clicking on that content on CyclingTips takes you over to Ella where we will offer a diverse range of stories that we hope will appeal to those whose main interest lies in women’s cycling. The current readership of CyclingTips is predominantly male. Ella is part of our approach to give women’s cycling the attention it deserves and to give female cyclists a place that feeds their passion.

The content featured on Ella will be largely conceptualised, written and edited by women. It’s a place where we hope to build a virtual (and in some cases real-life) community of women bound together by their passion for the sport. We want women to arrive on this site and immediately see something that’s of interest to them regardless of where they are in their cycling journey.

I’ve had several of you ask about specific types of content. What will we offer for those interested in race coverage? What about the audience that is not (yet!) interested in professional cycling – what’s in it for them?

My professional background is largely based in professional cycling, having worked with a number of women’s teams based in the States before moving over to the men’s WorldTour. With GreenEdge, I had the privilege of taking on a media manager role for Orica-AIS. We absolutely plan to cover women’s professional cycling – including race previews, race reports, race recaps and rider diaries as well as content that introduces our readers to the characters that make up the sport.

In saying that, it’s important to make the distinction between Ella and a site like CyclingNews, which covers every men’s race in a fair amount of detail. Our new site may not cover every race (or even close to it) in the same way. We will cover the World Cups, important one-day races and key stage races in depth. Other races on the calendar will likely not be featured as fully or in some cases at all.

The inclusion of pro cycling coverage is part of the community-building process to me. It’s a big reason why I fell in love with this sport, and I believe that may be a shared experience amongst some of our readers. Exposure may not translate to interest for everyone, but underexposure for women’s professional cycling is an issue, and I feel a sense of responsibility to address this.

While we hope to appeal to readers that are interested in content far beyond professional racing, we don’t necessarily see ourselves in a similar vein to Total Women’s Cycling either. We’re placing a premium on quality over quantity, and with only three full-time contributors, that may mean you’ll only have one or two new pieces to read daily. In most cases our focus will be on well-written, well-researched, in-depth stories.

There are plenty of places where you can get a quick run-through about how to choose a saddle. Rather than reproduce what you can find elsewhere, our story on saddles would be to focus on the process on what goes into the design of one saddle from start to finish – and in telling that story, we would pass along tips applicable to choosing the right saddle for you.

Regardless of what interests you, it is my hope that you find something interesting here. That you can connect with the stories we tell, the characters featured within and the writers bringing them to life.

Two weeks ago, I road-tripped down to Adelaide for the Santos Women’s Tour and had seven hours of quality car time with other female cyclists, and we talked non-stop during the entirety of the drive. At one point someone in the car posed the question: “How do you define community?”

I mulled over my response before saying I wasn’t sure if I could define it, but I know exactly how it feels. It feels like rocking up to a race on the first day of my first trip to Australia and looking around and thinking: “These are my people.” It feels like bonding over bikes upon first meeting and knowing instantly that you’ve found a friend. It feels like repeatedly learning that it’s a small world when bikes are involved.

To further make my point, I dug up a piece that I had written for a cycling education and advocacy non-profit eight years ago and read it aloud in the car. It’s called “Wanna Ride?” and the piece ends with these four lines:

“As a kid, we thought nothing of going up to another kid at the park and asking: “Hey, wanna play? But as adults, making new friends isn’t always so easy. Unless you have a bike. And then all you have to say is: “Hey, wanna ride?”

My new boss Wade Wallace has repeatedly cautioned me that my plans for this website will likely evolve quickly and that I need to be willing to adjust my long-term plans in response to a variety of factors that all remain a bit of a mystery at the moment. While flexibility has never been my strong suit, in this case, I’m eager to remain open to possibility. Because while I may be the one at the helm of this website, I see it as belonging to all of you. To all of us.

This is our community. You guys are my people. I’m trusting you to weigh in and let us know what you want out this space, so that we can work together to create something special. Like me, you may not know exactly how to define community, but I want you to feel a sense of community here.

Jessi Braverman

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