When we opened up applications for our Ella CyclingTips ambassador programme in March, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We knew that we were part of a passionate women’s cycling community, but even we underestimated the level of enthusiasm that was out there to play a part in growing this sport that means so much to us.
In no time we had hundreds of applications from around the globe. As we turned to the task of scrolling through them, the degree of commitment we could see to help grow women’s cycling and the strength of the applicants, left us brimming with enthusiasm about what a valuable part of Ella our ambassadors will be.
It was clear that the toughest part of this process, given the calibre of the applicants, was going to be narrowing down the field. The well thought out submissions also highlighted the diversity of our riding community and as a result it became abundantly clear a cookie cutter approach just wasn’t going to cut it, so we decided to break down the launch of the ambassadors into several phases. This way we could more effectively take into account the different needs of our varied cycling communities, altering our programme to recognise each community’s unique needs.
Finally, we have reached the part we have all been waiting for. Now it’s time to announce our first group of ambassadors and start planning rides and events. The initial group will be our crew for the Melbourne area of Australia, but don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about everyone else. Once we’ve got Melbourne up and running, the United States will see a mid-summer ambassador programme launch. After that, we will roll out the ambassadors from the rest of Australia and the rest of the world.
We brought our first team together to get to know each other at Melbourne’s DISC velodrome, where there was a bit of time spent riding the boards and plenty of time spent chatting about all the opportunities ahead for getting out on the bike and supporting others to do the same. It’s a group with varied two-wheeled experiences, but it was clear straight away it would be easily bound by the strong common passion of cycling and helping others share in the joy of the bike. So without further ado, here is our first team of Ella CyclingTips ambassadors:
It was hard to resist the temptation to break out in a little mid-office happy dance when the name of retiring Orica-AIS rider Chloe McConville cropped up on the application list, and after the first conversation we completely gave up trying to contain our excitement. There was only one thing we could say to someone who had just come from the very top level of sport and talked so humbly and excitedly about having the chance to help other women. That one thing was please come and join our team.
Chloe: “I have been cycling for the last seven years and over the last two years have been a domestique for Orica-AIS professional women’s team. Cycling has taken me to some incredible places in the world, taught me amazing things about myself including persistence and determination and introduced me to some of my best friends. I have now retired from the professional peloton but really want to give back to the sport and teach women some of things that I wish I had learnt earlier. I grew up in Myrtleford and love heading up to visit my family and riding in the north east (albeit riding slowly up the hills!!) I now live in Geelong with my husband and two huskies and work as a physiotherapist part time.”
Monika Sattler is the bubbliest of riders, but also one tough cookie. One of the best ways to hold her wheel up a hill is to engage her in conversation, as she’s way too friendly to ride away from a good chat. Her enthusiasm for the sport is contagious and you never know what she’ll get up to next. It may be a road race in the hills or a gravel grind like the stunning roadtripping adventure in the Victorian high country. Unfortunately she couldn’t join us for the welcome at the velodrome, as she was too busy stringing together one ridiculously long climb after another while riding the French Alps.
Monika: “Originally from Germany I stumbled, via the US and Switzerland, to Australia. (This is why I should never navigate a ride). I love epic rides, pain, suffering and mountains. Cycling is not just my passion – it is my life. I love exploring new regions with nothing but a tiny bag, I love the pain in my legs after a 10+ hourr race and I love the camaraderie and friendship that I have found in any country I ride in. As an Ella ambassador my goals are to share my passion for cycling and show others that cycling is not just a sport – it is a way of life and a pretty darn good one!”
It might be easier to talk about what Allison doesn’t do on the bike. She’s one heck of an all-rounder and already puts so much energy into cycling – not just her own but also supporting other women’s interest in the sport. She’s a great example of someone who has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the joy of being on the bike and helping others find it too.
Allison: “I’m Al, a thirty-something Melburnian and marketeer by day. After a shamefully long gap between my last childhood BMX and my first adult bike, I’m making up for lost time by trying everything I can at least once. I’ve gotten myself involved in triathlon, joined a cycling club, and delved into road, crit and track racing so far. Every time I go onto Instagram I see something to add to the ‘must have a crack at that’ list, even though that first time often comes with raised heart rate and gritted teeth! I’ve met a lot of great women in the time I’ve been cycling, who have welcomed me into their world and guided me along the way. It’s fantastic that in this sport of ours there’s always something new to learn, another challenge to take on, and an ever-increasing amount of fantastic women to do it all with – all united by our love of being on a bike. I’m looking forward to spreading this love further in my role as an Ella CyclingTips ambassador!”
Clarissa is the personification of a rider who will look at a cycling challenge, be as nervous as hell about doing it, and then jump in and commit 100 percent anyway. She’s rarely seen without a smile and is forever encouraging other women to just give it a go. It’s hard to imagine anyone turning up to a ride she is at and not feeling welcome.
Clarissa: “I would describe myself as a passionate person who likes to try new things and push my own limits. I enjoy having a laugh, even if it is at myself, and am a fiend for making new friends. I am a nurse by trade which has not only given me a strong stomach but also made me a good listener and compassionate to others. I pride myself on being a loyal and reliable friend. Some of my favourite things include riding in the dirt, coffee, family and Italian food. I think the best thing about riding my bike is surprising myself and letting the kid in me explore.”
Nicole van Bergen
Nicole has been one of most regular and supportive helpers on Ella rides and she impressed us with her incredible tenacity as she plodded on into the fading light to knock up 8,848 metres of ascent at the all-female mass Everesting last year. That is just one of the many epic rides she has under her belt but Nicole’s greatest strength is the way she helps bind and support a group. Sometimes she’ll be egging on those at the front to push the sense of challenge and adventure to the next level, but other times she’ll just as happily sit on the back and quietly encourage that rider who is suffering through. And for those of you who recognise the last name, yes, her brother does work at CyclingTips but we didn’t think it was fair to hold that against her!
Nicole: “I love cycling, whether it is on the track, road, mountain bike, or just commuting to work. As long as I am cycling I am happy, and I want to share this with others. Nothing inspires me more than helping others achieve their goals especially when they are starting out. My passion for the sport began when I spontaneously signed up for an Oxfam Charity Challenge, cycling through the Himalayas in China, having never ridden more than 20km. After an amazing adventure I was totally hooked, and I joined any cycling events I could. I met some amazing people who nurtured my fledgling cycling addiction over a Melbourne winter and made it a lifetime love. My cycling has taken me to amazing places all over the world including Nepal, India, Hawaii, France and Japan and I have made lifelong friendships from the people I have met along the way.”
A regular weekly Ella CyclingTips ride in Melbourne will start in just a few weeks and we will also have more rides and events coming up, both in and beyond Melbourne. To make sure you hear about the rides sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram.