Fans Backed Womens Cycling

While part of professional cycling implodes, shall we turn our attention to something more (ahem) positive?

When I Grow Up I Want To Ride Like Marianne Vos

Back in July, after returning from the Tour, I stood in the pouring rain in the newly opened London Olympic Park watching The Greatest Cyclist In The World be pushed all the way to the line by a vegetarian from West Yorkshire. Enthralled, excited and motivated, I rushed to the Olympic Park Megastore to buy a Great Britain branded cycling shirt and vowed to buy a road bike. I wanted more. The Olympic Velodrome opened and Queen Victoria stepped off the throne to be succeeded by a young pretender from just up the M11. But I still wanted to see more. So I stood in the baking Kentish sunshine at Brands Hatch and unashamedly cried as Sarah Storey destroyed not only her own race field, but also that of the mens’ race that started 3 minutes in front of her. I sat in Look Mum No Hands with a lump in my throat watching the Road Race World Championships as The Greatest Cyclist In The World won the rainbow stripes, thinking how privileged I was to be watching her race. Thinking about how I would tell my children about watching her in the same way as my Dad told me about watching The Cannibal. Having lost my way with football, having got tired of the air of suspicion that hangs over men’s cycling, I realised I had found a sport that truly moved me. I wanted more. I needed more. Much more…

But the joy of this discovery was overshadowed. I found articles about Emma Pooley having to consider retirement because of the lack of support she was getting. I went to watch an event at the historic Herne Hill Velodrome where the lack of female cyclists entering was openly criticised. I read Sarah Storey imploring more women to get involved in cycle racing, so I nervously entered a sportive. And I trawled the internet looking for more women’s Pro Cycling events I could go and watch, but they just weren’t there. So I asked for help…

Tweet from Sarah Storey

Which is when I discovered #fansbackedwomensteam and #fansbackedwomenscycling, an intiative started in part by an article on Cyclismas by Stefan Wyman from Matrix Prendras about the role of fans in women’s cycling. This quote spoke particularly strongly to me:

“In many ways, women’s cycling lacks history; certainly compared to the men’s side of the sport. This era of raised interest in women’s cycling is a chance to make a new kind of history for the sport, in a new, interesting and socially inclusive way.”

The opportunity for a community based model for cycling really excites me, something inclusive and accountable to the fans but also a fantastic opportunity to give these talented sportswomen the platform and audiences they deserve. And to give us more of the fabulous, enthralling women’s cycling that I am so desperate to watch.

The Fans Backed Womens Cycling project is continually evolving, but I strongly suggest you follow Stefan Wyman and #fansbackedwomenscycling on Twitter for progress. This is a massive opportunity for cycling fans, to take back pro cycling from the dominance of dodgy Texans, dubious media magnates and questionable governing bodies and make it in to something that is true and exciting and ours. All of ours.
My magnificent Marianne Vos T shirt, pictured above, is by Freebird Velo

One thought on “Fans Backed Womens Cycling

  1. they need to get this going again for a start, cycling weekly in the late 80s used to cover it widely (Jeannie Longo was a machine – even better than Vos is today) just 59 national titles for her and she is – I think still going – strong.

    Also check out Beryl Burton for a bit more women’s cycling history.

    Oddly never ever heard of a woman cyclist failing a drugs test but after 25+ years of following cycling I’ve given up the number of times I’ve had my illusions shattered. From the PDM team of the mid 80s to 90s who suddenly all got “food poisoning” before a stage in Le Tour to Armstrong’s holier than though attitude nowadays, I reckon I’ve seen it all.

    I just hope that Sky and Brailsford are as squeaky clean as they say, having read the European press, it makes uncannily familiar reading when compared to what their opinions were in relation to US Postal.

    Anyhow always liked Lemond better anyone who can be shot and then win by 8 Seconds in the most dramatic tour ever gets my vote

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