Monday, 28 March 2016

Leisure cycle ride through Sussex

Over the years I have come across lots of traffic-free cycle routes up and down the UK and abroad as well. I think they are really good ways for people to get into cycling. Even for experienced riders they make for a refreshing break just to be able to ride and not think about motorists and lorries.

As it happens, in the UK thanks to a report in the 1960s that led to the closure of thousands of miles of railway lines, these disused lines have now become the cyclist's gain. We now have lots of pleasant cycle routes around the country that we can enjoy at our leisure with our families and friends on sunny bank holidays like today.

I have started writing about these routes on Total Women's Cycling website. The first one in the series is on Forest Way, a 7-mile route from Groombridge, near Tunbridge Wells to East Grinstead.

I enjoyed this ride. I hope you do too! Look out for more routes that I will be writing about over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

These Girls Can!

I like to celebrate women's achievements everyday, and there are a lot of women achieving lots of things around the world. But go on then, as it's "International Women's Day" here's my bit.

I would like to give mention to a few women in cycling who have been trailblazers and really stood out. Some had to battle against the odds but they managed to break through whatever barriers and dealing with adversity - poverty, accident, family constraints or sexism. I can't go without mentioning Beryl Burton, who I have great admiration for, and will continue to admire. And as one of Yorkshire's toughest I am sure we will be remembering her again at the Tour de Yorkshire next month.

I also can't go without mentioning Marianne Vos, who I find amazing. As someone who has met her on a number of occasions I would say she is a very nice person as well. Even though she has been a multiple-time world champion across various disciplines in cycling she has a lot of time for the humble biker like me, and she has been instrumental in promoting women's cycling around the world.

And now for other stand-out folks:

Victoria Pendleton - Yesterday it was announced that she will be competing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, not on two wheels but on four legs! Yes, the Olympic track cyclist has reinvented herself as a jockey! She only started horseracing a year ago and she is going to be representing at one of the top horseracing events in the UK next week!

She has had mixed fortunes in horseracing, having crashed out at Fakenham in February but then won her race last week at Wincanton. Furthermore she has had mixed reactions from the horseracing community with champion jump jockey John Francome saying she should quit before she hurts herself, while 20-time jump jockey champion AP McCoy, who has been giving Victoria a bit of coaching has been very encouraging and says that her participation in jump racing is good for the sport.

Whatever she does, I think that Vicky is a credit to women's sport because she gets out there. When speaking to her it is clear that she is very driven and motivated and it is hugely inspiring to others.

Apart from a cyclist in the para-sports category of the Laureus World Sports Award nominations the only cyclist is none other than Rachel Atherton - World Downhill mountain bike Champion. She herself described it as a "crazy and massive honour"! So she'll be sharing the stage with the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Lionel Messi and Usain Bolt.

It would be great to see Rachel win in the Action Sports category. Whether she does or not I think she has been a trailblazer - literally with all her antics throwing herself down hills and notching up championship title after title since she was 14. (She's now 28).

From further back in time I must mention Camden's finest (after Amy Winehouse) Billie Fleming. She only set the women's record for the greatest distance covered in a year, in 1938 - 29,604 miles! Then lived on to the ripe old age when she died aged 100 two years ago.

And talking of more firsts - Annie "Londonderry" Cohen Kopchovsky, in the 19th century was the original "new woman." In 1894, at the age of 24 and leaving behind three young children at home, was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by bicycle through accidents, mishaps and high water. Makes me feel lazy when I groan about riding just down to Brighton!

So there you have it, a few trail blazers that inspire me and make me think. This Girl Can!

Related posts

Women's Cycling just got Strongher

Female Cycling Legends

Interviewing a few good women

Thursday, 3 March 2016

10 Fast Facts on.... World Hour Record Holder, Evelyn Stevens

Last week the American racer Evelyn Stevens broke the women's hour record, beating the time set by Bridie O'Donnell just over a month ago. On her Specialized bike with a standard Shiv frame the Boels Dolmans rider covered 47.98km in 60 minutes around the 7-Eleven Velodrome in Colorado Springs. So who is Evie Stevens?

Apart from being the third woman to break the World Hour Record under the revised UCI rules after Molly Shaffer Van Houweling and Bridie O'Donnell, and being the team-mate of World Road Race Champion Lizzie Armitstead here are a few more fast facts.

1. Evelyn's first ever bike race was at a cyclo cross event in 2007. She didn't win and crashed loads of times.

2. Evelyn got into road cycling when she attended a local women's cycle training session in Central Park, New York in 2008 after her sister suggested it.

3. She only turned professional in 2010 aged almost 27, two years after taking up road racing seriously, and after a career working in investment banking.

4. Evelyn is an ambassador for World Bike Relief, a charity that aims to improve the lives of underprivileged people around the world by providing bicycles.

5. Her coach is Neal Henderson, who also coached BMC's Rohan Dennis - another rider to break the World Hour Record.

6. Evelyn is good friends with another BMC team rider, Taylor Phinney and she stayed with his parents in Colorado while there to make her world hour attempt.

7. Her husband, Brett works for Twitter.

8. Other professional racers who are interested in the hour record are waiting until after the Rio Olympics, but Evelyn has used her world hour record ride as a way to help her hopefully in the Olympics, by way of improving her power on the flat.

9. The track at Colorado Springs was 333.3m, which is shallower than the Olympic tracks, but better adapted for Evelyn's riding style as a non-track rider.

10. During her hour record different parts of her bike, including the bottom bracket had the grease removed in order to make more marginal gains on her speed when riding.


Related posts

Bridie O'Donnell - Another Inspirational Women's Hour Record

Molly Shaffer Van Houweling breaks the World Hour Record

10 Soundbites from Dame Sarah Storey