Australia’s Chloe Hosking wears the white jersey as she poses on the podium with Qatari Hamad al-Qahtani, member of Qatar Cycling Federation, after she won the second place of the first stage of the Tour of Qatar women’s cycling race in al-Khor, north of the capital Doha, on February 1, 2012. The route of the first stage covered 97 kms from the Camel Race Track in Doha to the Corniche of al-Khor. (Photo by Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)
One of my favorite parts of interviewing women riders is hearing the story of how they started bike racing. Because it’s always something. It’s never a straightforward story of starting to ride the bike when they were six years old and dreaming their whole lives of winning the Tour de France or the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Always, there’s something.
I’m going to make a controversial statement; cycling gets a bad rap. In my opinion cycling is one the sports doing the most to clean up the sporting landscape and other sports would do well to follow in it’s footsteps.
We’re not the drug fuelled athletes painted by the media. We are the sport which tests the most and therefore catches the cheats.
I have a reoccurring dream (or nightmare) where I miss the start of a bike race and I’m forced to chase the convoy to try and rejoin the peloton. Sometimes it’s set on a farm and I’m running because I can’t find my bike, don’t ask me why though.
Today one of my dreams came true, but two almost did. I raced the first ever edition of the women’s Strade Bianche but I very almost didn’t. I missed the start. A last minute wheel change saw me climbing the hill to the start of the race in the centre of the beautiful hill top town of San Giminano about 5 minutes before what I thought was the start of the race. I’d glanced at my Garmin a minute before and seen 8:52, ‘oh it’s okay the race doesn’t start until 9′. But as I made my way toward the start line more and more people were yelling at me. At first I just thought they were being typically Italian, loud and excited. Then I saw the very last car of the convoy driving away.
I often shake my head when I watch things like downhill mountain biking. I can’t comprehend how these guys have the guts to throw themselves down a mountain like they do. But when you actually pause to think, what we do is ten times more stupid.
While they have body armour, full face helmets and have ridden the course multiple times before they race, we have skimpy little lycra outfits, tiny tyres, light as feather helmets and generally have never seen the descent before in our lives. Still we kamikaze down them with little thought.
CYCLING Australia has issued Chloe Hosking a punishment of sorts - a suspended $200 fine - for calling the head of the sport’s world governing body “a dick”.
“We took into account the fact that the women, and in particular Chloe, earn bugger all from the sport. And if in fact we imposed an immediate $200 fine that would be a very severe penalty.
"For the blokes a $200 fine would be a slap on the wrist. And if the guys earning the big bucks did something similar they could expect a much more savage outcome, but Chloe would be on 10,000Euros or something a year, she has to pay for all her own accommodation, all her own living expenses.
"Chloe was very contrite and we said to her ‘we respect your right to savagely criticise the attitude of the UCI and things that Pat McQuaid has done and said, but you can’t attack the messenger. You can attack the message, and we respect her right to do that, but calling someone a dick or a dickhead just doesn’t elevate the discussion at all and she knew that.’”
This is probably my favourite story this week! Remember Specialized-lululemon cyclist Chloe Hosking called UCI President Pat McQuaid “a bit of a dick” because of his comments about women cyclists at the Worlds? Well, Cycling Australia have decided her punishment… in a way that not only has some uniquely Australian phrasing, but also recognises that she was making valid points. I love the Aussies! This put a huge grin on my face - well, apart from the last paragraph, but you can’t have everything - have a read, it’s a lot of fun
“I’m constantly disappointed when I log onto cyclingnnews.com and see little to no coverage of the latest women’s racers. While there are websites like Podium Cafe and cyclingtips that try to report on most of the big women’s racers a lot of the best stories come from the racers themselves.
"Below I’ve compiled a list of ‘racers who blog’ (thanks to twitter!) so you can go straight to the primary source and get the inside story on how Ellen van Dijk attacked the peloton to win solo or how Rabobank shattered the peloton in the crosswinds.