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Like many women in the professional peloton, Chloe Hosking is college graduate. With a degree in communications and one of the best written cycling blogs in the business, we considered Chloe the perfect addition to the regular rotation of Ella CyclingTips professional cyclist contributors.
Chloe has represented Australia at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games – yet ask her why she rides her bike and her answer might just be the same as yours.
I get asked a lot of questions as a professional cyclist. One of the most common is why do I ride?
Today — more than 10 years after I first jumped on a bike to ride around the roads of Canberra with my Dad and after having raced professionally in Europe for six years — the answer I give is definitely different from when I was 12, 18 or even 22.
Yes, I ride my bike because I love to win bike races, but in a sport where you’re lucky to win more than five races a year (I won three in 2014) there has to be more that keeps you driven and loving riding your bike.
It occurred to me when I was asked this question late last year that the reason I ride is because of all the amazing people I have met through cycling. At the launch of an ambassador program for the Australian based women’s cycling apparel distribution company Roxcycl, I paused to think exactly why do I ride my bike. Sitting on a milk crate outside a trendy Sydney coffee shop I answered: ‘I wouldn’t have any friends if I didn’t ride.’
The social aspect of cycling is what makes our sport so special. I can go for a five hour ride with my girlfriends and chat the whole way (if they’re not half wheeling me). Then we’ll sit at the coffee shop and chat some more (about how they were half wheeling me).
Certainly, as I came through high school and college what kept me in the sport wasn’t so much the desire to represent Australia at the Junior World Championships – although that was definitely a contributing factor – but the fact that many of my best friends were cyclists from all around Australia. When I would I see them if I didn’t go to the local Wagga Wagga track carnivals or the Nationals Championships?
I see this same social aspect of the sport with my Mum. Mum doesn’t do huge kilometres and while she probably will be offended at the suggestion, I’m sure her heart rate doesn’t fluctuate much above the recovery zone when she rides. Despite this, she loves her weekly group rides with her ‘cycling ladies’. They do a lap of the famous Canberra lake before spending at least twice as long as they spent riding at the coffee shop.
Maybe I’m becoming sentimental in my old age or maybe as I spend longer in the sport what is important to me is changing, but the reason I ride is definitely because of the people I have met while doing so.
In February I got an email from the Dutch national road race champion, Iris Slappendel, asking firstly how my race at the season opening Ladies Tour of Qatar was going and second if I wouldn’t mind having her stay for a few days at my place in Girona, Spain while she tried to escape the horrendous weather of the Netherlands.
Iris was one of the first people I met when I blindly got off the plane in Amsterdam six years ago. I was 18. I knew nothing about the European peloton or what I was getting myself into. She has been watching out for me ever since. I vividly remember her offering me a wheel in a stage of the Holland Ladies Tour in 2010 as I was battling for position, she yelled: “Okay Chloe, I’ll give you the wheel. But don’t you dare drop it!”
A few days after Iris left my apartment I got an email from my mentor and former teammate Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. It started: ‘Hi Chloe, it’s Mum’ and preceded to quiz me about why I was still running in February.
These might seem like insignificant stories but for me they’re just an example of the people I’ve met and the different relationships I’ve made through cycling. Iris is a friend and Ina is a mentor. They’re both people I look up to and respect.
Before the first stage of the recent Ladies Tour of Qatar I uploaded a team selfie to my Instagram account. I hashtaged all the different nationalities pictured in the image: Swedish, Belgian, Italian, Australian and French. We were all beaming, ready for the season to start and excited to be racing for our Wiggle Honda team. I still smile when I see that photo.
I ride my bike because of the people I get to meet, the memories I’ve made and the friendships I’ve gained. I don’t think there’s any better reason to throw your legs over a bike.
Although just for fun next time I’m asked why do I ride my bike I might answer: “So I look good naked.”
What’s your reason?
Chloe Hosking is a professional cyclist riding for Wiggle Honda. The Australian found cycling as a pre-teen and spent her early years on the bike riding around Canberra with her dad. Chloe took an untraditional path to Europe, self-funding trips to ride with composite teams and club teams at international races. She hopes that her success inspires other Australian women to recognize the multiple pathways to European racing.