After a month-long hiatus Ella Picks makes a special mid-week return. The women’s cycling content we loved these past couple weeks includes a feature on ultra-distance rider Juliana Buhring, the first woman to cycle the world sans support; an opinion piece entitled #NOPODIUMGIRLS; Rebecca Rusch’s letter to her 15-year-old self; and a short film on the Subaru High5 Australian National Team’s first race in Europe.
This story on endurance cyclist Juliana Buhring is captivating. The 33-year-old featured, dubbed “The Tougest Woman on Two Wheels” by Outside Online, is an ultra-distance rider who holds the Guinness World Record as the first women to travel the world alone (travelling continuously and in the same direction). She jas founded a charity, runs a B&B in Italy, and has written two books – the first of which is about her childhood growing up in a cult.
Best line: “After spending her childhood trying to escape from the people closest to her, Buhring fit right in as an endurance cyclist. ‘It’s like I quit one cult,” she says, ‘and joined another.’ ”
LINDSAY KNIGHT + BLACKSTONE BICYCLE WORKS
Lindsay Knight works for Blackstone Bicycle Works in Chicago. The bicycle co-op caters to students, low-income families and (yes) the fixie-riding hipsters. Knight’s co-op is founded on a knowledge sharing model and has a earn-a-bike program for kids who help out in the shop. Located in one of the less affluent neighborhoods in Chicago, Blackstone offers kids in the community an escape from broken homes, drugs and gangs.
Best line: “For a lot of our kids, there’s no safe way for them to be active at home after school. The shop gives them a safe space, a sense of security and continuity, and skills they can carry with them throughout their entire life.”
Get used to hearing this name. Megan Guarnier has an a remarkable season that has included a win at Strade Bianche, her second US national road title, her first World Cup podium, a stage win at Giro Rosa and a six day stint in the Italian Grand Tour’s maglia rosa. The Boels-Dolmans rider has quietly but confidently been building up to her dream season – and yet you get the sense that this mighty big year is merely the beginning. Specialized commissioned this feature that’s sure to make you smile.
Best line: “ ‘Danny’s the mastermind of nicknames,’ she says. ‘He calls me “Calimero.” It’s this little cartoon bird. The bird wears an eggshell on his head because he forgot to grow, and I’m the smallest one on the team, so…. Anyway, the bird always says, “It’s not fair. You are big and I am small,” and Danny says he can just see me in the peloton with all these giant people around, and me saying “It’s not fair.” ‘ (Danny Stam, Boels-Dolmans Team Director and bestow-er of said nickname, tells me later that he’d seen Megan in a helmet one day, and that visual made him think of it. After that, it just stuck.)”
Guarnier’s compatriot Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) has had the benefit of steady rise. The 22-year-old emerged as a sprint specialist as a junior and has ridden on professional teams since her mid-teens. As she matured, she’s progressed from fast finisher to solid all-arounder as demonstrated by her stage three win at Thüringen Rundfahrt last month. VeloNews spoke with Rivera about her “breakout year” following her recent win on stage two of the Tour of Utah.
Best line: “I’ve always kind of been pigeon-holed as a crit rider, but as I am getting older and having more time to ride, I am maturing as a rider and getting stronger on the hills and working on my time trialing just a little bit. I’ve stepped it up this year and it’s showing.”
TAYLER WILES AND OLIVIA DILLON
This conversation with Tayler Wiles (Velocio-SRAM) and Olivia Dillon (Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good) is part of Bicycling Magazines series on “Cycling’s Coolest Couples”.
Best line (from Wiles): “Some days one of us feels good and the other doesn’t. It’s not a personal attack if they go faster one day in training. It’s about compromise. You can be your worst self on race day. You can’t take race-day monster personally, that’s not who you always are!”
Carol Cooke is a world champion and Olympic gold medalist but when asked to describe herself in this Q&A, she doesn’t mention her sporting accomplishments. She instead talks about family first, friendships second and her chronic illness (Multiple Sclerosis) third before she adds: “I’m an athlete who wants to show the world that it doesn’t matter how old you are if you want to do something just do it.” Cooke clearly doesn’t believe in excuses and embraces a “live every day as your last” attitude that shines through in this Ride Like a Girl profile.
Best line: “A good friend Bruce who I met through MS (he was also diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma – terminal bone cancer). He was given 6-12 months to live, he said to the Dr. ‘Don’t tell me when I’m going to die, I’ll tell you when I’m ready.’ Towards the end of his life I would call him and ask him how he was, he always picked up and would say ‘I woke up this morning and I was breathing so it is going to be a beautiful day!; He lived seven years longer than expected and lived every day like it was his last! He taught me a great lesson and that was to enjoy every day that you have on this earth and don’t put things off that you want to do.”
We included this video in our Route de France preview diary but thought it was worth sharing again for those who might have missed it there. This 20-minute film takes you behind the scenes with the Subaru High5 Australian National Team at Thüringen Rundfahrt.
More of these please! Liv managed to pack quite a punch with these two videos on Rabo-Liv teammates Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. The narratives are beautifully written and pair up perfectly with the variety of footage that is shown. We’re hoping the rest of the Rabo-Liv team is featured soon, too.
The Rio Olympics start in 51 weeks – which means we have passed the “one year to go” marker. Australian Olympic hopeful Tiffany Cromwell (Velocio-SRAM) invites you to share her road to Rio journey.
We’ve featured Girona a few times on Ella – most notably in this piece on La Fabrica Girona. The Catalan city has become a base for many of the non-European pros, and, more recently, even some of the European pros have come to call Girona home. This video with Sharon Laws showcases the city as a destination for living and training
A LETTER TO HER 15-YEAR-OLD-SELF
Shortly before her 47th birthday, multi-discipline professional athelete Rebecca Rusch wrote a letter to her 15-year-old self as part of a new Red Bull series.
Best line: “While all of your other friends and classmates collect big paychecks, buy houses and find “success,” you will be wandering but not lost. The star that will guide you is your passion for adventure and exploration. Don’t lose sight of that. You will take a lot longer than most to find a home and build successful career, but you will get there in your own time.”
LinkedIn: Strava for Female Pros
Male pro cyclists: “I’m gonna put off finishing high school to race.” Female pro cyclists: “I’m gonna put off finishing my PhD to race.”
— Lindsay Bayer (@thedirtfield) July 10, 2014
The last time we featured a blog post from Lindsay Bayer, it involved a piglet taking a bath (yes, really). Her latest entry tackles a slightly more serious topic but from her usual hilarious angle – many female pros juggle bike life with other work and/or school.
Best line: “While I don’t have a PhD, I do have a career off the bike that I’ve worked to establish and grow over the last decade. I am proud to be a professional cyclist, but that’s not my only job and I’m discontent to let somebody think all I can do with authority is pedal. Thanks to the nature of women’s cycling, it’s rare to find a professional female racer who is not also well-educated, already enmeshed in a separate career, or both. It’s basically a necessity to survive in a sport that offers minimal pay and no long-term security.”
RACING AND RELAXING IN WESTERN EUROPE WITH OPTUM P/B KELLY BENEFIT STRATEGIES
— Optum Pro Cycling (@OPTUMpbKBS) August 7, 2015
This photo-heavy piece from Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies shows the American squad’s most recent racing block in Europe. The team is currently racing Route de France where Brianna Walle sits third overall.
Best line: “We visited the Sint-Sixtus Abbey in West Flanders. Their beer, named Westvleteren, is regarded as the best beer in the world. Keeping in true Abbey fashion, they only brew enough to sustain the Abbey. So, you can’t really buy it anywhere and have to go to the Abbey to buy it and drink it. It is amazing, and also strong. This was a pretty fun day.”
Annette Edmondson: Striving for Success
Another piece published in celebration of the impending Rio Olympics, London Olympic bronze medallist penned this piece for the newly launched Australian Olympic website. In her introductory post, she speaks about her experience in London and her ambitions for Rio.
Best line: “This time I’m greedier. I know a lot more about what to expect. Not just myself, but my team. We have much more experience on the world stage and we are more prepared.”
My ‘Women Specific’ Problem
Amanda Batty isn’t a fan of women’s specific bikes or any women’s specific cycling product for that matter. She makes her case for eliminating what she calls the “defining line that separates false categories we’ve thrown each into”.
Best line: “I don’t want your female-specific bike. I don’t need it. Why? Because my identity doesn’t exist solely around having a vagina. I don’t ride like a girl. I ride like me. I need me-specific bike parts, and that means that they’re generally expensive, tough and black. For someone else, that could mean light, cheap and shaped like an elephant. I DON’T KNOW. And guess what? Neither do bike companies. And so telling someone that they need a ‘women’s specific frame’ or ‘women’s specific tires’ is just bullshit.”
This piece on podium girls has been doing the rounds, and if you haven’t seen it’s definitely worth a read. Having featured Maja Leye and Lien Crapoen on Ella in April, we’re the first to admit that this isn’t necessarily a black and white discussion, and that there’s room for multiple opinions in the conversation. This particular opinion, however, is an important one.
Best line: “Tradition is no longer an acceptable justification for this woefully outdated practice. Universally retiring the use of podium girls would be perhaps the most cost-effective way for professional cycling to signal to women that it truly wants us: the change would require no recalculations of maximum stage lengths, no budgets for new races, no training for additional personnel. One need only look to cyclocross, the fastest-growing cycling discipline, to see that no disaster befalls elite races that omit podium girls from their award ceremonies. Cycling must recognize we live in a time where treating women as ornamentation is not just disgraceful, but totally unnecessary.”
Should female athletes have to prove they are women?
Not cycling-specific yet an important piece nonetheless as the question spans all sport. Alice Dreger explores the danger in admitting a “gender test” to determine if women can or cannot play.
Best line: “International sports authorities have over the years changed which biological marker they think should divide female and male athletes. For a while it was genitals, then sex chromosomes. Most recently they’ve settled on testosterone levels.”
Women’s road races are struggling for survival and status
In an interview with The Independent, Nicole Cooke challenges the notion that professional women’s cycling is moving forward. Instead, she claims that the sport has gone backwards in some regards, and she insists that more must be done.
Best line: “Cooke sees La Course as ‘a step in the right direction”‘, but adds : ‘The fact it hasn’t increased in length is worrying. I think it’s a tactic that happens very often when people are campaigning. It’s almost like a concession – “they’ll be happy with something” – and very few people go, “No, hang on, that’s an insult, we want more”.'”
Ella Reads You Don’t Want to Miss
Here are a few of my favourite stories published on Ella in the last week:
- Kristy Scrymgeour speaks about stepping away from Velocio-SRAM’s management
- Small hand modifications: Adjusting your lever reach
- Road to Rio: Will Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio be South Africa’s leading lady or lone rider?
- Portable rice waffles and World Cup podiums with Emilie Moberg
- Lisa Jacobs takes a third Australian cyclocross title, Paul van der Ploeg wins a tussle-tainted men’s race