North London Thunder Cats Black Metal Bicycle Club has the best name of any club in the UK as well as a very, very nice kit, and those who have been to the various events they’ve put on know that they’re really rather good at race organisation too. So, ThunderCross – 25th February, Canada Heights, Swanley – looks a fine and fun way to finish the cyclocross season.
“We have taken over a motocross track for the day, expect a unique racing experience on a massive scale. There will be challenging climbs, twisty single-track, speed sections, exciting descents and lots of opportunities for fast racing.
There will be black and green runs and the course will be open early in the day for familiarisation sessions and warm-ups. £500 (each!) for male and female 1st place in the main races plus a stack of amazing runner-up prizes – as well as the main podium prizes, there will also be spot prizes on the day for a variety of things from best dressed to most ridiculous bike to complete the course and more.”
Elinor Barker takes issue with ‘fluffy’ music at women’s cycling events
In an article publihed by The Telegraph, Olympic gold medallist Elinor Barker says that while “there’s not been a better time to be a female cyclist,” there are still many things that need to be changed. We all know that, but although there are some things that remain hard to change, she highlights things that are easier to change – such as the music played during women’s races.
“I think sometimes it’s the subtle things that can be quite damaging – the choice of music while the women are racing can often be quite trivial and it downgrades the racing a little bit,” she says. “When the men have got awesome rock theme tunes to their racing, it makes it more exciting and it draws the crowd in, whereas when the woman’s is on, there’s this sort of fluffy music and it doesn’t make the crowd that excited.”
Some may consider this unimportant when there are still issues like the lack of equal pay, when even at the very top “professional” level of the sport a large number of athletes receive tiny salaries or are unpaid, financing their own racing. But maybe Elinor’s onto something here: women’s cycling is an extraordinarily friendly sport and many of the athletes are very friendly people (not all of them, as is to be expected – they are, after all, people), but sometimes it’s portrayed as being some sort of happy joy-fest and anyone who hasn’t been to one could be forgiven for thinking women’s races are all about smiling girls happily pedalling through summer meadows.
Women’s racing is not that. They take risks, and they fight one another in the peloton. They get sweaty, and in the heat of the action they get angry – they swear, and if another rider won’t hold her line she’ll get an elbow in the ribs. They crash, and they get hurt – badly hurt, sometimes. Sometimes, when a race hasn’t gone how they hoped, they get pissed off and swear at photographers who point cameras in their direction… like I said, they’re people. It’s one of the reasons I love women’s cycling. Above all, they push themselves to the limit and go full-on, who-gives-a-f*ck-I’m-going-for-it eyeballs-out for victory.
Changing little things such as the fluffy music played during women’s races would be very easy to do, and would help dispel any notions that it’s less dangerous, hard and competitive than men’s cycling. Cumulatively, little changes can have big effects – marginal gains, as the saying goes.
(NS is firmly of the opinion that pounding 1500bpm splittercore techno is a far more suitable soundtrack for cycling than rock, though.)
Fat Lad At The Back to launch new, bigger range of women’s kit
Cycling kit, famously, tends to come up a little on the small side – most jerseys sold as “medium” translate as “tiny” in the real world, and even “large” is usually on the svelter side of “elfin.” That’s fine for the professionals who can spend all their time training, but for us normal folk who enjoy the occasional well-earned bag of chips and a beer or eight, finding kit that fits can be problematic. For female riders, the problem can be even worse – women’s ranges tend to be more limited anyway, and many manufacturers seem to think that all female riders have busts more or less the same size and that the stretchiness of lycra will accommodate them all. However, scientists have discovered that women actually come in quite a lot of different shapes and sizes.
Enter Yorkshire-based company Fat Lad At The Back, who after noticing the issue decided to start producing well-designed, stylish kit for a far wider range of riders than was previously available – and who have just announced that they’ll be launching their biggest ever range of women’s clothing at this London Bike Show. An existing range catering to women with bust sizes anywhere between 34″ and 50″ and sizes 8 to 26 has the vast majority of riders covered, and crucially it’s not all pink (though if you want pink, they’ve got pink too); the new range should offer plenty more. Their pricing structure isn’t at all bad either; find the new kit as soon as it’s released on the Fat Lad website.
Eat Sleep Cycle have two day passes for the Bike Show, which they’re giving away to the winners of a competition on their Facebook page – find it here!
The Drop magazine
Once in a while, a cycling team comes up with an idea so good you have to wonder why nobody thought of doing it before – and a classic example of that is The Drop, a new online magazine produced by UK-based UCI team Drops designed to keep fans up to date on all the latest news regarding the team and riders.
In it, you can find details on the 2017 roster, news on the team’s excellent performance at the Tour Down Under, an interview with Suzanna Zorzi and more – find it here.
In The News
Bex Rimmington joins Olympic champion in elite pro team
“A year of big races at home and on the Continent awaits Bex Rimmington after securing a dream ticket as a professional cyclist…” – Melton Times
Frostbite and a handmade ‘Mad Max’ machine: training with the Mongolian national women’s cycling team
“This is the world’s coldest capital city, and one of the most polluted. My bus stops outside a brick shed on the side of a hill. It’s an unlikely place for an Aussie cyclist to find herself, and an equally unlikely training headquarters for a national sports team. Inside that shed, however, are some seriously tough young women getting ready for the day’s training session…” – Katherine Scarlett for Ella
Nicole Cooke ‘sceptical’ of Bradley Wiggins and hits out at ‘sexist’ cycling
“When asked whether she felt sexism was culturally embedded in British Cycling her reply was damning. “Yes, I do.” – The Guardian
Victoria Williamson: ‘You could see my bare spine. The skin had torn away’
“The 23-year-old sprint cyclist suffered horrific injuries in a mid-race collision last year but has her sights on next year’s Commonwealth Games and Tokyo 2020” – The Guardian
Abuse of power in women’s cycling, an all too familiar story
“Given the UCI has remarkably strict regulations around so many facets of its governance, it’s bikes, clothing, anti-doping, team ownership etc etc etc some of that regulation would be well served ensuring that we look after the psychological and physical wellbeing of its most vulnerable members: the young, unpaid men and women athletes who are ripe for exploitation, abuse, mishandling and destruction.” – Bridie O’Donnell for Ella
Rochelle Gilmore: Women’s cycling will go to another level in 2017
“Women’s cycling is still developing at a very fast rate, and I think that it will plateau in the next few years. But, for now, the investment that is being put into women’s cycling teams is making our sport more interesting for television, because the racing is more interesting…” – Cycling News
Team Africa Rising aim to build women’s race squad from the ground up
“Watching last year’s Olympic road race Kimberly Coats was struck by the fact that there were just three women from Africa, and not one woman of colour, lining up to tackle the course in Rio. Not that this came as much of a surprise. Having for many years worked with Africa Rising and Team Rwanda, Coats was well acquainted with the state of cycling on the continent…” – Cyclist
Dave Brailsford hits back at allegations of sexism at British Cycling
“Former British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford has responded to Nicole Cooke’s allegations of sexism at British Cycling, saying that he ran a regime that was “not sexist, but definitely ‘medallist’…” – Cycling Weekly
Has Team Sky’s success come at a cost to women’s cycling, and the taxpayer?
“…in evidence given to the government’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry into combatting doping in sport, Olympic and World Road Race Champion Nicole Cooke revealed how she believed British Cycling has always treated women as second class riders and that the development of Team Sky exacerbated this as publicly funded resources were directed towards the privately owned team…” – Cyclist
“I’m a cross rider; I’ve dipped my toes into the water (pretty deep) in road and ridden 3 World Championships, I’ve even medalled at nationals, but it just doesn’t hold the same appeal. So on the face of it, I’m all for summer CX. However, riding ‘cross in high temperatures is basically awful. I average a heart rate in the mid-190’s for a cross race….when the temperature is super hot, that’s passing out territory. In terms of local league racing, I think it’s great. It gets people back on their cx bike, focuses us on skills again, and also provides a nice set of intervals before you start the cx season proper later on…” – Helen Wyman
News, 2017 plans and that
“After a bit of consideration of how I am going to approach my next race season and thinking I would most likely be racing independently, something unexpected happened and I was approached to join a team for the 2017 fixed gear crit season. This year I am going to be representing Cadence Colossi collaboration and we have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline…” – Lina B.
Rider Interview: Harriette Machin
Our first interview of 2017 is with Harriette Machin who rode her first racing season in 2016. Having progressed quickly to get some good results leading to confirming a cat 2 license she speaks with us about her season, top tips for any new racers as well as her plans for the future…” – Lucy Sturgess for Love Velo
52 Cycling Voices – No.3 Caroline Martinez
“Before I started cycling seriously 11 years ago, I thought cycling was a sport of gods. It was almost too good for a little 5 foot nothing (150cm) girl like me. There was no way I could ever do what I saw those super-humans do on TV during the Tour de France!” – Maria David interviews Caroline Martinez
Take 5 minutes to help women’s cycling in 2017
“It’s 2017, and a lot of us are really looking for positives, and one of the best ones I’m finding is doing something to help women’s cycling. We can all do this – just set aside 5 minutes a week, get online, and you can really make a difference, to your favourite riders, teams and races. You can do this at lunchtime at work, on the bus or train – I do it in ad breaks, when I’m watching TV!” – Sarah Connolly tells us some easy ways we can help the sport