Casquette – a new women’s cycling magazine

I am really excited about the launch of Casquette, a new quarterly print magazine and website for the discerning female cyclist.

casquette cover.jpg

I’m always keen to report good news stories about women’s cycling and the media. I also love magazines, having spent much of my adult life working on everything from Just 17 to Marie Claire as a beauty editor and, more recently and at a complete tangent, writing about mountain biking for Singletrack.

So, I got my hands on a copy and also had a quick chat with editor and founder Danielle Welton.

“The content is a balance of inspiration, good humour and style and includes the fun, sociability, coffee culture and freedom that comes with cycling.” Danielle Welton, editor.

Danielle tells me that she set out to create a magazine that she wanted to read but that did not exist – and crucially it is one that she believes there is a readership for.


It is aimed at women who ride and those who would like to, and deliberately puts a decidedly positive spin on the whole experience.

The theme, aptly, of the first issue of Casquette is #JFDI (Just F***ing Do It!). There is a choice of two covers – Emily Chappell or Nicole Cooke – and the Emily cover kicks off with a boldly placed quote ‘ Back yourself: How to look fear in the face and win’. The editor’s letter on page 3 – on what motivates female cyclists to make stuff happen – includes the words ‘peeing it down’. So, it’s not Woman’s Weekly then.

Instead Casquette is kind of cycling’s version of Stylist or Glamour – a slick, pro-women lifestyle read with aspirational photography and a clean, confident design. This is, however, most definitely a cycling publication – so when they refer to ‘Brad’ they mean Mr Wiggins and not Mr Pitt.


This issue kicks off with a Lust List spread of cycling accessories – basically a cycling centric mix of everything from the fantastic Grand Tour Cookbook to a limited edition Ass Saver.

There follows an interview with blogger and cycling girl-about-town Jools Walker, before moving on to contributions from and interviews with inspirational women who ride including Alicia Bamford of Queen of the Mountains, Kimberley Coats of Team Rwanda, Emily Chappell, Nicole Cooke and British Cycling coach Holly Seear. There’s also a piece on Drops Cycling with some great photography by JoJo Harper.

The features are interspersed with more usual women’s magazine content, although all of it skewed to cycling: style, recipes, fashion and beauty and travel all get a look in, as do lots of lovely road bikes.

It’s not easy or cheap to get a magazine off the ground so its good to see the following advertisers supporting this new venture: Assos (yes them, the brand who have gone from bad to badass!), Neals Yard (I use their rose facial oil to make my own moisturiser, but that’s another story), tokyobike, Chapeau!, Brooks England, Vulpine and Condor Cycles.


If you love women’s cycling then I urge you to get your hands on this first issue before they all get snapped up. It is a good looking magazine, a great read and a great big confident leap forward for women’s cycling.

Casquette is available for free at selected stockists or by post with a small p&p charge. Check it out on line or find out where to pick up or order a copy of Casquette here.



Positive light: women’s mountain biking and the media

Portraying women’s mountain biking in a positive light – three great media campaigns you have to see.

I’m always on the look out for ‘good news’ media that understands women’s mountain biking and portrays it in a really positive light.


The latest to drop into this happy file is this short film by British mountain bike component brand Hope. Its part of its #Hopetechwomen project to inspire women to push their boundaries and get together to ride.

This new, spectacularly beautiful short film made me want to jump out of bed very early indeed and greet the dawn on my mountain bike (and believe me, usually I like a lie in!!).

Hopetech Women are also running a series of women only mountain bike rides around the country, coordinated by brand manager and enduro rider Rachel Walker (who also features in the film above!). The rides are fantastically well organised and lots of fun, whatever level you ride at – I urge you to go along even if you’re a bit nervous (I can virtually guarantee you won’t be the only one with butterflies!). Read my review of the one I joined in Peaslake, Surrey here and find out where the next rides will be held too.






I can’t write a post about women’s mountain biking media without mentioning Sealskinz #iamendurance campaign. Featuring rider Traharn Chidley, it is a powerful story of this athletes journey from darkness to light, in part thanks to mountain biking. Be warned – it may move you to tears.



Finally, from the archives, I come back to this photo post on Pinkbike from 2014 – Endless Biking: Mother Huckers documents the lives of a group of mountain biking mums, the importance of taking care of yourself and the value of friendship.


It really struck a chord with me when I first saw it because it was so unusual to see women mountain bikers – never mind mums – portrayed in such a real and aspirational way. It continues to be ground breaking and I recommend you read it – link is here

I’ll continue to update on really amazing, positive portrayals of women who ride. If you know of any great examples, let me know!!!!


Remarkable Women Who Ride

I’ve been working on an ongoing project for Evans Cycles Coffee Stop blog recently, for which I am interviewing a series of women who inspire us to ride. I’m thrilled to be part of it because I believe that highlighting the positive energy in women’s cycling is as important as discussing the not-so-good stuff that occasionally knocks us back. Every single one of these cycling athletes is awesome – and each in different ways. These are my favourite quotes from each interview (although to be honest it was very hard to choose!).


My first interview in the series was with former The Hour world record holder Bride O’ Donnell who told me:

“I wish we were braver in our 30s and 40s, and worried less about ‘what if?’ – our children need to learn that women’s bodies are strong, capable, resilient and fast; that being a mother or a wife doesn’t mean your physical and mental health and wellbeing needs to be discounted.”

You can read the full interview with Bridie here.

Next in line is British and European CX champion Helen Wyman:

“I have basically given up my career as a physio and possibly the whole family thing, possibly the expensive Bahamas holidays, newest car etc. But I don’t really see this as much of a sacrifice. Sure I have had moments when I have had to sell stuff to pay my rent or when I didn’t know how much money I have to spend on food that week, but I have also had the most amazing experiences a person could ever have.

Right now I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I get to ride my bike every day, travel the world, meet incredible and inspiring people – and do all of this alongside my husband – while calling it my job. Seriously who wouldn’t want that? My life is hugely rich in experiences and for that alone I would say I haven’t really sacrificed anything just switched philosophies!”

You can read the full interview with Helen here.

I spoke to British Downhill Series champion Manon Carpenter who gave this excellent piece of advice on braking (and yes, I am certainly guilty of this when I ride!!):

“Have fun and, once you are confident in your skills, trust yourself and let go of the brakes: comfort braking will slow you down, tire you out and make the ride rougher, so only brake when you need to.”

Read the full interview with Manon here.

Paralympian Lora Turnham gave a fascinating insight into her life as a professional athlete, as well as her relationship with her tandem pilot Corrine Hall:

“As soon as Corinne and I got on a bike we just clicked. We’re similar I guess but we also have slightly different strengths which compliment each other. She is an extremely good bike handler and also very good in a race environment as she has done it all her life. I sense her confidence and this reassures me.

Although we are good friends it is important to confront any problems we have straight away so that it doesn’t become an issue. We spend so much time together that we are like a married couple at times: we can finish each others sentences and also at times will say exactly the same thing. It’s also good to respect each other and recognise when we just need a little space or sometimes a good talking too and I think we’re both good at this.”

Read the full interview with Lora here.


Queen of the Mountains launch

The confident face of women’s road cycling: first glimpse of the new Queen of the Mountains road cycling range for women.

queen of the mountains womens cycling

The launch party for the Queen of the Mountains range reminded me of the beauty and fashion press launches I used to attend when I worked on women’s magazines.


West End location, suitably glamourous? Check (in this case, an art gallery)

Champagne and exquisitely tasty nibbles? Check (lots of this, by the way).

A nice selection of kit to inspect and brand ambassadors to promote it? Absolutely.

The chance to bump into fellow journalists and industry type and have a not-for-publication gossip ? All that too.

And a moving speech – complete with tears – by the (female) founder? Got it.


Queen of the Mountains founder Alicia Bamford


As I’ve said before, female cylists are not all the same – and this launch was all about what it means to be a stylish, confident and capable female road cyclist. Every brand is a reflection of its founder, and Alicia Bamford (BA Commerce, BA Finance, Chartered Accountant – ICCA, and almost a decade in the corporate world, according to her Kickstarter page) is a fresh faced superwoman who loves cycling big mountains (we have that in common, if not the accountancy qualification) and Iron man competitions (five, in total).

Although Bamford emphasises that she is keen to get more women into cycling, at this point the brand seems to be all about riding hard and riding in style. She had the idea for it when she was cycling from Geneva to Cannes over the French Alps and it is aimed at the sort of woman who will pay £120 for a race jersey, and maybe even stump up almost £2000 for an 8-day ride and yoga retreat break with the brand at Lake Annecy this summer, or maybe sign up to the Kickstarter campaign which has already reached its initial target (“I expected the backers to be people I knew” Bamford told me, “But they are mostly people I have never met”).

The collection is, as you might expect, is driven by exceptionally high standards. Its designed by Bamford and her creative Designer Katy Hopkins in London, and produced in Italy at a factory with over 50 years experience in making performance cycling clothing, using performance technical wicking fabrics. In keeping with the mountain theme, it is inspired by the colours of Mount Ventoux: you don’t get more ‘chic road cycling’ than that. Crucially, the kit is also designed for the female form and all its curves, and the riding position.

The race jersey is made in lightweight 4-way stretch fabric, with UV 50+ protection that is quick drying and anti-abrasive (though it obviously has its limits should you be planning to fall off). The shoulder fabric has increased elasticity for extra movement as you ride, and the rear pockets are designed with easy access in mind. There’s also a waterproof zip pocket for your phone. It’s quite short which could be a problem if you’re 5’ 9” (like me) and although the range is available in sizes XS to L (size 16) I think this top is proably best suited to the more athletic figure.


The classic jersey is longer with a (slightly) more relaxed fit and there’s a super lightweight and white gilet (unlike me, women this stylish never accidentally spill their energy drink down their top, of course). The shorts are made of something called Lycra Power (so Jane Fonda!!) to reduce muscle vibrations and fatigue, with a Cytech pad suitable for 4+ hours riding. There’s also a wide waistband so no digging in and soft leg grippers to avoid the unflattering sausage legs look (my description, not their’s!). You can accessorise with matching arm warmers (£30) cap (£25) socks (£15) and a tan if you want to look like you just rode off the sports page of Vogue.


It’s lovely kit, created by a woman who is good at business and an experienced cyclist. She knows her niche in the women’s cycling market and she’s done her homework. I wish her the very best of luck, and I cant wait to see what comes next from this exciting brand.

To find out more visit the Queen of the Mountains Kickstarter site.



Look Mum No Hands Podium Pants

Women and the cycling media

Last night I joined the panel at a London Bike Kitchen WaG event to discuss the ways in which women are portrayed in the cycling media. This isn’t actually us, but it is a great way to get your attention.

Look Mum No Hands Podium Pants

The wonderful ad for LMNH Podium pants


It was a privilege to sit alongside eloquent and informed speakers Jools Walker (cycling blogger and presenter), Laura Laker (cycling journalist) and Chris Garrison (cycling marketing expert) on the stage (which was actually a very wide window sill!) in front of a packed room of cyclists at Look Mum No Hands! What followed was a truly inspiring debate. Here’s a quick summary of some of the key points I put forward (not because I’m more fascinating than everyone else – clearly I’m not – but because I’d be here all night if I included everything that was said!), followed by a link to an excellent post about the whole event which highlights more of the topics we discussed.

On the panel at Look Mum No Hands

On the panel at Look Mum No Hands. Pic credit Yoko Aokee

First, I’m as passionate about the media as I am about cycling. I’ve been a magazine journalist for most of my career and it’s been fantastically rewarding work. Because my background is in women’s magazines – where women are the focus of everything that’s written – I’d like to see women represented more widely in the cycling media too.  I’m not used to being an afterthought!!

“It’s not women’s cycling, it’s cycling”.

I’d like to believe we can reach a point where we no longer feel the need to discuss ‘women’s cycling’ in the media as if it is something separate from general cycling. Unfortunately our cycling media, on the whole, currently feels like it is an exclusive men’s club. This may not be deliberate editioral or marketing policy, but it is still the case.

“For me, mountain biking is about freedom, joy and mini adventures…”

Imagery or copywriting that objectifies women has no place in cycling either. I’ve written about this before for Singletrack World, when I wrote an open letter to Maxxis in response to some of their more sexist advertising.  As a mountain biker and road cyclist, I’d prefer to see brands use their marketing material to reflect how it is out there on the trails/roads where, in my experience, cycling is largely a friendly, supportive and inclusive community of people having fun. It would be great to see that celebrated across the media instead.

“Focus on the good…”

If we see media coverage that we like then acknowledge it, share it, talk about it and reward the brands with our hard-earned cash! Which brings me on to the fabulous advert for Look Mum No Hands! podium pants (above). It is fun and it works – brands take note, the pants sold out off the back of this ad. And then there is this film, below, by Sealskinz about the power of mountain biking: a beautiful and moving acknowledgement of the fact that we all ride for different reasons.  Both ads are a refreshing, exciting glimpse of what our cycling media could become.

“Ordinary women doing extraordinary things”

Women cyclists are not all the same: we don’t share the same levels of participation, experience or areas of interest within cycling. We don’t all want to read the same blog posts (one woman will want to know about getting started, another about training for ultra cycling) nor buy the same kit.  What we do want is to  celebrate our diversity by sharing our stories. We don’t have to be world champion to have a great story to tell.

“Onwards and upwards…”

I’m glad to report that the audience in the room last night were as informed and empowered as the panel!!  There was a wonderful energy and a shared passion for cycling. I came home to read a huge number of supportive comments on social media. This is such an exciting time for women who cycle and it is a joy to be part of the discussions to move it forward in the media.

Thanks for inviting me, London Bike Kitchen!

You can see and read more about the event here.



Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling team launch 2015

Join the debate: How is women’s cycling portrayed in the media?

I’m excited (and a bit nervous!) to report that I’ve been invited to join a panel of speakers to discuss how women’s cycling is portrayed in the media. The event is the first in a new series of WaG (women and gender variant) events and will be held at Look Mum No Hands in partnership with the London Bike Kitchen.

Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling team launch 2015

The riders from the Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling team, including Laura Trott (in white) meet the press.


The other speakers – experts on women who cycle, both of them – are Laura Laker, who has written for The Guardian, Cycling Weekly,, Cycling Active, Bike Radar, Total Women’s Cycling, Bike Hub and Good Housekeeping, and cycling blogger Jools Walker who has also appeared regularly on ITV’s The Cycle Show and is also operations manager for Vulpine Cycling Apparel. And then there’s me – a former fashion and beauty editor for women’s magazines including Marie Claire and Just 17, and now a regular contributor to titles including Singletrack and Total Women’s Cycling as well as cycling brands including Velovixen and Evans Cycles (oh, and I still write ‘non-cycling’ fashion copy too!)

With my background in an area of journalism that has women at its core,  I’m really excited to discuss how – and why – the cycling media needs to get up to speed with women who ride. I’m expecting some forthright – and well informed – views from both the panel and the audience.

The event is open to all and free to attend, and it takes place on Wednesday 3rd February at Look Mum No Hands, 49 Old Street, EC1 9HX.

Hope to see you there!!

ride the revolution

Review: Ride The Revolution by Suze Clemitson

Ride The Revolution, edited by Suze Clemitson, is a new anthology of writing that gives a brilliant insight into the world of women in cycling.

ride the revolution


The contributors and interviewees list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of women’s cycling. It includes World Road Race champion Marianne Vos, campaigner Betsy Andreu, Wiggle Honda boss Rochelle Gilmore, Olympic Gold medallist Connie Carpenter-Phinney, and UCI Vice President Tracey Caudrey.

It’s also one of the only books I’ve ever read where I kept thinking ‘I’ve met her…I’ve met her too…we follow each other on Twitter…and I’ve met her…” – Penny Rowson, Helen Wyman, Jessie Walker, Harriet Owen, Sara Olsson, Mel Lowther from the Matrix Team, Helen Wyman, Caroline Stewart who I met via Twitter and then through the Matrix Team, Ottile Quince, Chris Garrison from Trek, cycling writer Sarah Connolly – which only makes the book more engaging!

The beautifully written content represents so many different – but highly informed – points of view, from women who are fans to women who are World Champions, as well as photographers, key personnel, journalists and presenters.

It opens with a tribute to Beryl Burton. This down to earth Yorkshire woman (who famously once commented ‘Come on lad, you’re not trying’ whilst overtaking one of her male competitors) was a competitive cyclist in the 1960s and 70s – and became the best rider in her sport for an astonishing 25 years in a row.

There follows, in Beryl’s awesome wake, another 29 chapters, each sharing individual women’s experience in cycling.

It is a wonderful book with so many stand-out moments that it’s hard to pull out favourite chapters but I found Clara Hughes words on her life in professional cycling, her retirement and her battle with depression particularly moving:

“The goals I have now are small and most likely invisible to others…Goals of simply enjoying what I do, no matter how small the deed…Not simply moving forward like a freight train through all the beautiful moments, forgetting to stop and feel the wonder of it all’.

The contributions from women who work within cycling – Emma O Reilly who was Lance Armstrong’s personal soigneur for four years and Hannah Grant, team chef for Tinkoff-Saxo and author of the excellent Grand Tour Cookbook, for instance, make fascinating and insightful reading too (so, Alberto Contador ‘absolutely loves potato frittata’ – who knew?).

This is a book full of cycling adventures, struggles, successes and optimism : it is a joy for anyone who enjoys going ‘behind the scenes’ and finding out about the little details that make all the difference. It’s a perfect read to enjoy on dark evenings in front of the fire, and completely inspiring too.  I couldn’t put it down (cliched, but true!) and I 100% recommend it to anyone who loves cycling (although a note to mountain bikers: the content is largely road and CX based).

You can read more about Ride the Revolution and purchase it here.