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.
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.