I'm not sure if you know of Laura Scott, but you should. She's a rad chick, who also rides bikes (in much more insane situations than I, I fear), and she's also a Vegan! Surprisingly (or not) just because we're both vegan women who ride bikes, doesn't actually mean we have similar day to day lives. We both ride, we both eat, but what we do is very, very different.
We got together at the start of January, firstly to celebrate Veganuary, secondly to catch up after the holidays, and finally, to talk about working on a comparative look at what our days and weeks look like. This is the product of that! We both spent a whole day with a camera by our sides, documenting what our routine is like in terms of riding bikes, going to the gym, eating food, and working full time! I've also documented everything I ate for a week to give you a better idea of vegan sportspeople's diets.
Let me prefix the meal-overview by saying that I am cutting (losing weight) to get to race weight. Over Christmas I was pretty lazy, and was in intense eating and holiday mode. I was busy enjoying all of the restaurants and snacks I loved and missed from Australia, as well as drinking a LOT of wine. I gained probably around 8kg since my last race in October, so the need to lose a few holiday pounds is reflected in a pretty low calorie meal plan. This is also a slight amalgamation of two weeks, as one weekend was very non-standard (I had a friend from Aus here, and spent the weekend eating toast and riding around London).
A Day IN my life!: What I Eat, How I Live!
So there we have it, a week in my life, and a day in my life. I don't really know if anything in there is particularly surprising, and parts were definitely non-standard. I am a pretty big creature of habit, and the only things I tend to change is what I do at the gym, and the veggies in my salad bowls.
Next weekend I am off to Cambridge with Lina, which will be fun, so I will have some cool photos of us riding through the countryside to show you guys! Look out for Laura's #AWeekIntheLife, and I'll be sure to share it too!
EDIT: Oh, and let me know if anyone is taking on Veganuary, or even if you want help transitioning to vegan food even for a week to try it out! I'd love to help!
2016 is here!
Here we all are, staring into the light of something brand-spankin’-new.
It’s pretty overwhelming.
That’s why we make resolutions; not because we need to promise ourselves something– but to give us focus in the revelation that we have a whole new year to achieve it! Where do we start?!
I can tell you where I’m starting this year… or at least, what I’d like to achieve before I’m staring into the face of 2017!
My 2016 aspirations
I think it’s always important to keep measurable goals, and include things like numbers. I’ve also put a pretty strict training plan in place that helps me to achieve in things like my races, and also combines getting Velociposse involved!
Sam from Velociposse's sock sponsor, The Wonderful Socks, met up with Lucy and Tara when they were at RHC Milan (jealous!)
Check it out. So proud
Oh my gosh!! It's been how long since I wrote? Crikey! This isn't good form. I have just been so effin' busy!! Apologies, apologies.
Anyway, I am writing today to brag about my new bike! HELL YEAH, guys. I love #NewBikeDay, and I seem to have them all too often...
The reason WHY though, this time, is not just N+1*.... A few months ago I entered a crit where I kind of crashed (figuratively) and burned and I was super upset, and I cried, and I made Matt get me ice-cream, and then I drank a few pints and I still didn't feel any better. Pretty much immediately after that I decided that 1) I needed to calm down, train up, act like a grownup and 2) get a new road bike because, sadly, the Genesis wasn't cutting it for road races anymore...
Those of you who know the relationship I have with Genny (Mon, another of my Velociposse team members, and epic heroine in my eyes) will know how much of a struggle this was. That bike was the second bike I got in the UK, but it was the first road bike I have ever had (everything prior was a single speed beater), and it was the real introductory bike of my 'cycling life'. I had built/changed/modified everything on it and ridden over 6,000km around the UK and Europe on it. Oh man.
TLDR; Big shoes to fill.
I started looking around for something new, talked to a few people, and almost settled on a matching Cinelli road bike for my track combo (#socool)... but then I found Bowman. I reached out to Neil and he was so lovely and helpful straight away (I just checked, and realised we ended up exchanging 30 emails before I even decided to buy - that's a LOT).
Also, those bikes are made with love. Each frameset is designed in the UK, painstaking time is spent on each area, and then they are made and shipped in ultra-tiny batches to their new owners. That's special.
Neil, incredibly kindly, built me up a test bike, and even came and had a ride with me on the LVV Road Circuit with it. We talked bikes, track racing, cross, women, and the future of British Cycling. The Bowman was responsive, light, stiff, zippy, and beautiful. I was sold straight away. I went home, talked about the frameset for about 3 hours, and then spent my entire savings right then and there.
Sadly, after it arrived I had to move house, so didn't get the chance to build it up for wayyyyy tooo longgggg... but, finally, last weekend, I got her goin'! Take a look! I'm excited. So beautiful.
Finally... Bowman have, in no way, given me any reimbursement or discount for the views given above; I just love the bike. I am so happy I decided to move from the Genny to the Bowman, and the whole experience was rad because of the incredible service I received when getting what is a really nice product, with a great idea behind it. THANKS Neil and the team, you guys rule.
*The N+1 theory is the number of bikes anyone needs is ALWAYS N+1 (N being the number of bikes you currently own)
After Velociposse’s successful launch and post launch races, I don’t think anyone wants to hear me go on and on about how I found it, so I decided to interview one of the girls in the team, Imo. She’s a BMX (at heart, we know it) come-everything rider, artist, teacher, dog-walker, Buddhist, seriously sweet human, and she is really kicking some serious ass out on the velodrome.
I’m so proud to know her, not only because she’s a great cyclist and really rounds out the skills in the team, but also because her personality and caring nature is so fucking tip-top. I don’t think anyone could say a bad word about our Imo, and we’re stoked she wants to be a part of what we’re doin'! Anyway, enough mush... let's get to the interview!...
How did you get into fixed and track bikes?
Unintentionally! Two years ago, almost to the day, I walked out of an east London pub to find my LeMond road bike had been lifted. Man I loved that thing!! I'd rebuilt it several times over, survived the worst accident of my life on it and now it was gone. All that remained was a misplaced wheely-bin-come-stepladder and a signless sign post. A year later, during my teacher training; strapped for cash yet desperate to get back on the road, I recognised my need to deal with a certain amount of arrogance I held about the fixed community having fallen in love with the Dolan Pre Cursa- yes it may be an entry level frame but it's still a beautiful piece of design!
Track racing followed naturally. I used to train with Zappi's in Oxford and wanted to get back to pushing my fitness further and being part of the community. We certainly have that at Velociposse and Herne Hill.
Favourite event (on track)?
Bah! Do you even need to ask me that!? RADisson of course! There's something about being thrown around the track that feels very similar to carving a good bowl on a BMX.
Who/what inspires you?
Well I've been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for 12 years so that has always been the foundation that's helped me to find the drive to achieve a lot of things in my life. I'm fortunate to know lots of people who are making dedicated efforts in their daily lives to achieve their own aspirations that may initially seem impossible. Without a doubt, such people never fail to reinforce my own conviction in myself, both with my artwork and on my bike.
What scares you?
Succumbing to my own self doubt. It's basically a question of whether I can win over that really!
Where do you wanna be a year from now (bikes wise)?
So we've just finished the Herne Hill track league which went really well and I've decided to move up to Cat A next season. It's a big jump and there's lots of work for me to do particularly in terms of endurance and tactics. So I'd like to see myself making progress there! I'd also like to feel a lot more confident and experienced riding indoor and I'd love for us to be racing at tracks outside of London too!
I experience a lot of anxiety before races and have to really take time out before hand to get myself to a place where I can just turn up and enjoy it. I'm determined that a year from now I am going to be pro at embracing and dealing with this; totally confident that in each race that approaches I'll be able to perform at my best while being myself. 100%!
I'd also really like to do some teaching on the track.
Oohh I don't know! Pretty happy with my Dolan, I mean It's fucking matt black! I fetishise most things matt black. I'm waiting for our Velociposse all black skinsuit! (Editor's note: never going to happen. Pink 4 lyf.)
Having said that, a shorter frame would be helpful for my wee arms.
How did you get involved in Velociposse?
I met Jess at the Herne Hill women's training session back in May. We smashed it on an Italian pursuit together and the bond was made; she invited me onboard and we went from there.
Had you ever thought of joining a team/club prior to Velociposse?
As I mentioned I previously trained with Zappi's in Oxford. They have an awesome crew of women riding out there.
Had you heard of Koochella, or anything similar?
No I hadn't heard of Koochella, which I was a bit ashamed of actually! In the BMX world I've often followed groups or individual riders that create powerful grass roots social change. (More info, Imo's blog posts on this! #1 + #2)
How did racing go on at HVV League?
Really well. It was incredible to be racing together with the team for the first time. Seven of us out on the track working really well together and looking out for each other. What really made me smile was that I felt our positivity extended beyond Velociposse and really embraced all riders there. It was by no means insular.
But yes all the great results signalled that it's time to move up to Cat A!
How do you think we get more women participating in sport?
To be honest I've often understood that my own keen participation in sport has always owed a lot to the fact that I have quite a flexible gender identity, or rather, gender identity did not have a significantly influencing factor on me growing up. I could watch sport on TV and be inspired by both male and female athletes without really seeing any difference in terms of what I would be able to achieve myself. Had it not been for this I would never have been able to start and persist with riding BMX, still a highly male dominated arena, physically and culturally.
But I understand that a lot of women don't feel this way and find it hard to identify with a lot of sport media. I think we really need to reconsider what we bring to sport as women. How can we simultaneously use sport to realise our full potential while being true to ourselves? And we need to be far more celebrated by wider society for doing just that. When women can see others doing so then I think we will have powerful forward momentum.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILLIAMS PHOTO
When I was organising my plan to get Velociposse off the ground I was super excited about making our kit. Here I was thinking how creative and fun and easy it was going to be. BOY WAS I WRONG. Designing, approving, manufacturing, haggling, fitting, everything for kit is incredibly difficult and time consuming. Thankfully, Velociposse's kit just arrived at my house and I flippin' love it. All the hard work and tears were worth it - and I have a bunch of people to thank for that.
First - check it out!!:
DESIGN: My good friend, and ABSOLUTE BABE, Steve Sanshwe spent a ridiculous amount of hours making mood boards and designing the crazy pattern you see above. He sent me through the frames and creative brief for the design above before we moved on to production. Without him, and his friend Chris, I would honestly have a pretty shitty looking kit.
APPROVAL: At this point I needed to make sure that British Cycling were happy to have us mental women riding around their events wearing the above. Thankfully they were, but not before a few revisions (remove the small cartoon boobs, remove the knuckledusters). Additionally, our sponsors had to get in contact with BC to pay for their logo to appear, which was a bit of a struggle to explain - but thankfully we have strong support who gets the value we can add by having their logo on there!
MANUFACTURE: This was the toughest part for us. I had to find someone that I trusted to make quality kit, that would give me my creative freedom, let me be a little bit controlling, and could be trusted to manage the process while I dealt with team admin. Thankfully I have a rad friend in Jack, who is one of the lovely folks who runs Jehu. Jack and I got a beer and discussed chamois, fabric, cut, grippers, printing, blahhhh for hours. The kit ended up being perfectly made to our specifications, like - seriously. Jehu doesn't usually/ever do custom kit, so I recognise this was a huge favour for the ladies in the team - that's why you will see so many secret Jehu "Js" all over the pattern of the kit, they're not just our manufacturer they're a part of the team.
Amongst this process was a whole lot of waiting, sizing, looking at different photos of printing, blah blah blah. I have so much respect (not that I didn't before, but you know) for people who design and make kit - it's not easy at all. But it is SO rewarding when the tangible results of all the hard work show up neatly packaged and ready to ride!
Finally, on Friday 7th August, I will have the kit on all 15 of us during our team day, and I am so excited to watch us scream around a velodrome for 2 hours - it's going to be INTENSE to watch.
I have so many things to write about at the moment and to be honest I have been quite lazy (sorry). I got back from Croatia this week to some really lovely emails and comments (thank you for these, I love them so please keep sending them). One of the emails mentioned a blog post that they wanted me to weigh in on. I gave the post a read and, with no insult to Juliet who I have raced against once, I respectfully disagree with the attitude & opinions.
Let me explain why, and hopefully I can avoid putting my foot in it, all the while encouraging the healthy debate that the post in question announced it was all about.
The post: “Why do I have to Race Men or Not Race at All” sounds sensationalist because it is, it’s an opinion blog post, not a subjective news-article, and that is fine. I have written a bunch of sensationalist blog posts about things I am passionate about too so no harm there.
Essentially, I feel that the post can be summarised “riding my bike competitively is hard/annoying because I am a woman and no one seems to be doing anything about making it better for me.”
BLAH. It’s just not true. Or at least, in my opinion, it’s massively over emphasised in the post. I really want to know what specific event triggered the rant-esque post; maybe that would help me contextualise what she was trying to say.
I admit, things are still shit sometimes in that there is still work to be done and work is hard and I wish everything were already done for me because I am lazy just like everyone else. I wish I didn’t have to start a women’s team to have confidence I would be part of a solid track field. I wish I didn’t have to ride all the way to Redbridge to attend all-women training. I wish that women’s sessions were more frequent at all venues across London.
BUT just because I wish that life were easier doesn’t discredit or weaken all of the awesome, and very hard, work that literally hundreds of women and men across the UK are doing for women’s cycling, and even less specifically, women’s sport. Juliet was at the BikeBiz Women of the Year Awards with me earlier this year, so I know she knows.
Race organisers love women’s events, they have them all the time, but women don’t show up. That’s the problem. It’s not that there is some secret vendetta against us; there isn’t enough interest from us. That’s what needs to change, and race organisers can’t do that for us, I’m sorry to say.
Let me tell you a short story: A few months ago I entered a track omnium at Herne Hill and I emailed the organiser to check the women’s field. He said that he was concerned because if there were less than 9 entries on the day we would have to race with the men. Fair. That’s how this works, and it’s how it works even with men. So, I went on twitter and encouraged people to enter, I emailed my friends who may have been free.
I arrived with Emma on the day of the omnium and we realized that we had just scraped in with 9 women. I went home that night and said to Matt, “I am going to start a women’s team so that we don’t have to worry about that anymore.” And you know what I did? I started a women’s team so that I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
It was a fucking pain in the ass, and it continues to be a drain on my time and finances, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because I got to race against 4 of my team mates at Red Hook. Because there are now 15 of us who can arrive at races together and I can be confident that I will get to race against a good field of women. Because some women in the team may have never raced before, and now, with the positive encouragement of the group of us, they are competing (and, may I add, they are doing AMAZINGLY WELL). Because we have a fun time and we’ve put a big dent in the problem we faced. A problem that a race organiser couldn’t have done a better job of fixing.
I am not the only person who is making strong and positive steps to improve women’s competitive cycling and I would like to publically thank the following people for their contribution, and continued efforts to make a positive impact. I see things getting better every event, I really do.
Huw Williams (BC coach and all around legend)
Isla & Steve Rush
Tanya Griffiths (organiser of the most fanastic women’s road training events, and a very talented rider)
Emma Hornsby (who shows up to more 3/4 women’s races than most people I know)
Lesley Pinder (fan girl of hers, to be honest)
John Scripps (who fights tooth and nail to keep all-women’s track sessions at Lee Valley)
Jack Davey at Jehu
Anna Scwinn (my mentor and fucking bad ass)
Every member of Velociposse (these girls are amazing)
Lucy Gardner of Fierlan
Joseph and all of the staff at Herne Hill Velodrome
Vox Women Network
SO many more I am positive I have forgotten, please let me know who your shout outs go to!
Essentially, it comes down to this: I cannot do much more other than encourage women to attend training, come to races, join teams, reach out to each other, go riding, have fun, and make a positive impact on something you care about. I am doing all that I can, and I am doing it arm-in-arm with some absolute legends.
I have so much faith in the bright, bright future of women in cycling. I’m fucking excited to help pave the path.
Red Hook Crit was unbelievable. I am obsessed.
For weeks before the race I couldn't sleep because I was having stress dreams about doing terribly/crashing/misc. other scenarios. Now I cannot sleep because I am so excited about racing my next Red Hook.
Not only am I proud of myself for pulling my nervous-ass out of bed last Saturday and going to hurl myself around a bendy, narrow course on a track bike - but I am SO proud of the Velociposse girls who raced along beside me. I have received a lot of emails, comments, tweets etc from people who saw us on the day. Hell yes you did! Being the obnoxious people that we are, we made sure to set up the team area with somefake grass, deckchairs and rollers (hilarious), so it was kind of hard to miss us visually, but also we managed to be the largest London Women's team. #niceone
Despite the fact that the girls and I were having an hilarious time at our team area I was dying inside; this was my first track crit (and my first ever real 'crit race', to be honest) but once I got out on the starting line for the qualifying race I felt a hell of a lot calmer. The course was technical and narrow, but somehow it was a relief when I saw it was less bendy than I had anticipated, less cobbles, less crooks and cutaways.
Qualifiers was at 1.30pm and super fun. Unfortunately there were a few setbacks (crashes, windy course blah) which made me unhappy with my time (33rd). Even though my time wasn't great, I was happy that I practiced cornering on the course, and working in the small groups that formed. I was pretty happy and comfortable with my ability to navigate the course, and that was the most important thing to me at the end.
Things I have learned for next time: It's worth noting here that I had only ever cornered on my track bike on the Wednesday night before the race. I was kind of an idiot and didn't train on my track bike at any point because it's not drilled for brakes, and I wasn't keen on taking it to a circuit. Once the course map was sent out I had to get some cones out and go do some cornering practice for the first time ever. Idiot move.
Qualifiers were over, and all of us were lined up in a row bycomplete coincidence. We had a big 6 hour long wait between qualifying and getting on the line. By the time the race rolled around most of us were exhausted.
Avoiding beers for the following 6 hours proved to be my biggest test of the day.
Race time. I wasn't happy with my starting point, up the back and against the inside wall of the course. My group riding wasn't aggressive enough to push through the bunch before the first corner so I got spat out of the back. I was happy that I managed to make up 4 places by the end of the race when we were lapped by the leading group. That said, I know I could have done better as I felt super strong and fit; well and truly capable of a better time and result.
After the race was over I just felt so happy with myself for how much I have been able to achieve in less than a year. I rode my first ever track bike in January, and despite being disappointed in my results, I finished the London Red Hook Crit with the biggest ladies' team in London, which I managed to build from the ground up (with a LOT of help, I should add). Fuck. Yes. Girl power. Bike power. Will power.
ANYWAY. Stopping with the sappy crap: Velociposse will be ready for round two at Red Hook Barcelona, you betcha!! Will you be there? Let us know, we would love to get a beer!
*That is absolutely a lie/pie-in-the-sky, but apparently it's the average speed of the race.
Jess M H.