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.
FINDRA REVIEW: Muddy fun vs stylish cycling wear.
Performance sportswear brand FINDRA make stylish mountain bike shorts as well as innovative merino outdoor apparel for women riders. Their Ms-Mo Relaxed Shorts look great – but how will they cope with a mud-splattered soaking on a typical winter ride? There’s only one way to find out!
‘Just ride straight through the middle of the puddle”.
I’m halfway along one of my favourite trails, riding it as I have done a thousand times before – only this time I have a photographer in tow – and I’m trying to soak the shorts that FINDRA has sent to me in mud, in order to give them a thorough review. But despite the fact that conditions are distinctly wet, I’m not getting the result I expected.
Ride a slippery, muddy, puddle strewn trail without a mudguard and you end up with a bum covered in mud, right? Not in this case. While the bike looked as if it had been spray painted with sludge, the shorts seemingly refused to get as dirty. And any splatters of mud that did settle could be wiped away. No matter how hard I tried, these shorts resisted. Even by the end of the ride the water repellent fabric was still remarkably mud-free.
While this may be tricky for photography, it is a bonus for mountain biking in wet conditions. A soggy bum is a sure fire way to spoil your ride and it was lovely to be able to get round in comfort instead. So, thumbs up for that – unless, of course, you regard a muddy backside as a must-have badge of honour in which case, and from personal experience, I suggest you try lycra shorts.
Performance in mud aside, I also love the look of these shorts – and not just because the orange contrast zips coordinate with my bike (actually that’s not quite true – it’s a major reason why I love them!). I also love this navy blue shade – a really nice alternative to black. They are also available in Chocolate (the colour, not the confectionary!), and Indigo Denim with white contrast stitching. The branding is subtle but stylish, which makes a welcome change compared to the gear offered by many mountain bike ranges.
The two-way stretch fabric feels quite lightweight but is plenty tough enough. I will layer these shorts over tights in the depths of winter, and then wear them as they are for the rest of the year. The stretch makes them very comfortable to ride in and there is plenty of room to pedal.
The cut is streamlined – they are not all baggy, so no chance of looking like a 12-year old school boy in them – and shaped at the hip for a more tailored look. Lengthwise they finish at the knee but fit over my knee pads easily. Finally a word about the tailored waistband: it is super smart compared to an elasticated version, but, thanks to the stretch, just as comfortable.
Like many mountain bike shorts, Ms-Mo Relaxed shorts are not padded. I wore mine with padded pants (link) but you could just as easily wear a padded liner beneath.
Verdict? Best looking mountain bike shorts I’ve seen, with performance to match.
£90, exclusively from Wiggle.
Read my review of Findra’s merino range (and see more images of the shorts!) here.
Photos: Paul Mitchell
Why best selling Betties are putting the sexy back into cycling pants.
(This post originally appeared on Total Women’s Cycling but is now updated here).
What’s a girl to wear ‘down there’ cycling? Lets face it, ordinary pants soon wipe the smile off your face, especially as it’s impossible to adjust wayward elastic at a red light when surrounded by commuters. And no one wants to ride with bulky cycling shorts beneath their J-Brands or Whistles work skirt.
Delve deeper into this dilemma and imagine you have secured yourself a cycling date with the man of your dreams. A couple of circuits of the park and a few beers later, then its back to yours and the realisation that it’s impossible to remove a pair of cycling shorts in a seductive fashion (this applies to both genders, by the way), especially when they leave a non-too fetching imprint of a gripper band on your thighs.
And then there’s your birthday: your other half secretly wants to surprise you with something a little bit ‘va-va voom’ – but needs the comfort man-blanket of knowing that he’s also getting you something practical for the bike. Surely there is an alternative to receiving a fluffy red g-string and a bottle of Muc Off?
Or what if you just like wearing nice pants and riding your bike? Or want something discreet but effective to wear beneath workout gear for your spin class?
Hurrah! Here comes Bettie to solve every one of these pressing women’s cycling issues!
Created in Texas, Bettie is, basically, a really nice pair of pants with a slim (think panty liner) cycling chamois inside. The pad is flexible, breathable, quick drying and moisture wicking. It’s also invisible beneath clothes. And, while I wouldn’t recommend these pants for a day on your road bike, they are brilliant for any other type of riding: I’ve worn mine for mountain biking many times. Hey, I’ve even got QOMs in them (though frankly my legs are taking ALL the credit for those). The pants also feature extra stretch round the leg openings to avoid chaffing. They are easy to wash and quick to dry (much quicker than conventional cycling shorts!)
They are also quite beautifully to behold: silky fabric with mesh side panels and a ruched detail mid-back gives them a lingerie look and feel. There are ‘sister pants’ too: The Brigitte is a hooped black and white design with a bit more of a vintage look.
At £42 Bettie is, price wise, a world away from an M&S pack of five. However wear them as an alternative to cycling shorts and they start to look like a bit more of a bargain: so much so that I’m reliably informed that they are now a best seller at Velovixen.
In short, if you’re a lingerie lover and a cyclist, then they’re a bit of a must have. Buy them here:
* Further update, prompted by a friend who failed to realise that you need to wear shorts over the top of your Betties …. You need to wear shorts over the top, you really do.
My photo blog from the Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling team launch, which took place in Stoke on Trent last week at Staffordshire University.
I grew up in Stoke – which is also where team sponsors Matrix Fitness are based – so it was great to go back there for the day, meet the riders from Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling and hear about the team’s new professional status as a UCI women’s cycling team: an incredible achievement which will allow them to race against the biggest teams in the world this year. It was good to see familiar faces including Chris Garrison from Trek and Polly Farrington from Vulpine – both brands are amongst the team’s sponsors – and Hannah Ustell from Total Women’s Cycling, who I occasionally write for. I also spent much of the day building up the courage to ask for a selfie with special guest and cycling legend Jens Voigt (to cut a long Jens story short, he’s very nice, has incredibly long legs…and I got the selfie*).
But back to the launch, where the team of eleven Matrix Fitness Pro Cycling riders – from superstar Olympian, World and European champion Laura Trott to Development rider 17-year old Lucy Shaw – were the real stars of the day. They were joined by sponsors, the team’s families, local cycling organisations and a LOT of media. It was amazing to see so much support for this team and women’s cycling, and I can’t wait to track their progress through the season.
Below are some of my pictures from the day.
*And here it is :0)