Kathryn Bertine: The Fight for Women’s Equal Share of the Road

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Kathryn Bertine. Photo via kathrynbertine.com.

This year was big for women’s professional cycling. The Women’s Tour of Britain–the country’s first stage race for women–saw upwards of 10,000 spectators lining the streets for some stages. A.S.O., the company behind the Tour de France put on La Course, a one day women’s circuit race in Paris that coincided with the final stage of the Tour. Races such as BC Superweek and the US National Road Championships started offering equal prize money for the first time. But though these steps towards equality are important and signify a little bit of progress in professional cycling, they are the exception not the rule. Prize money is still often wildly unequal. According to journalist Lee Rodgers, 2013 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad women’s winner Tiffany Cromwell won just 270 euro while her male counterpart Luca Paolini won over 65,000 euro. The 2013 Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali netted 90,000 euro. Giro Rosa champ Mara Abbot earned 450 euro. A one day circuit race ending on the Champs Elysees is better than nothing, but it’s certainly not equivalent to three weeks of the world’s highest profile racing. Luckily the cycling world is starting to open its eyes to inequality.

Perhaps as important as 2014′s big races and sometimes-equal prize money, the conversation around inequality in professional cycling was elevated further into the mainstream than ever before. And Kathryn Bertine helped make it happen. The former journalist and current professional road cyclist combined her passions for storytelling and sport with her documentary Half The Road. The film documents the vast disparities between men’s and women’s pro cycling through interviews with the top women in the sport and the top decision makers in cycling’s governing body. It played to sold out theaters around the country this year and helped spark broad conversation about the subject. I spoke with Bertine about making Half The Road, the struggles for equality in cycling, the path to gender parity, her careers as a journalist and professional racer, and much more.

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Holy Cow, The Bicycle Story is Four Years Old

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This past Saturday, The Bicycle Story hit it’s four year anniversary. The project launched on November 1, 2010 with the Stevil Kinevil interview. I didn’t have much plan for the site when it kicked off. I just knew the best part about cycling is the interesting people involved and I was pretty sure there were readers out there who agreed. It turns out I was right on both counts. The project has continued to grow beyond my expectations (I never would’ve guessed I’d some day be chatting about the intersection of cycling and women’s rights in Afghanistan). And the audience–you great people–has grown right along with it.

Over the years, The Bicycle Story has become a platform for elevating unique voices and insider insight. The interviews have delved into critical social justice and equity issues with people such as Adonia Lugo and Ed Ewing. They’ve served as an oral history of cycling culture with Jacquie Phelan and Steve Garro. They’ve gone deep into the lives of cycling’s best athletes such as Jeremy Powers, Mo Bruno Roy, Barry Wicks, Ted King, and Elle Anderson. They’ve looked at the important work of advocates such as Aaron Naparstek, Nelle Pierson, and Noah Budnick. Many great adventurers have shared their epics including Nicholas Carman, Mike Curiak, and Jill Homer. Artists such as Brian Vernor and Emily Maye have shed light on their process and creative eye to the world. And the list goes on and on.

So thank you for reading and sharing and appreciating and supporting this work. It means a lot and provides the motivation necessary to keep the project rolling. If you want to lend some financial support and look great doing it, buy one of The Bicycle’s Story’s brand new t shirts. In the meantime, I’ll still be seeking out and chatting up the best, most fascinating, raddest people the cycling world has to offer.

The Bicycle Story Has T Shirts!

Bicycle Story web shop

I am super excited to debut The Bicycle Story’s first tee. Show your support for The Bicycle Story and look good doing it with this typewriter logo shirt. These high quality and super soft American Apparel short sleeve tees were screen printed in Seattle by a great mom and pop shop. They’re available in slate gray, XS through XL. Click here to head to the shop.

P.S. This seems like a good time to remind you that The Bicycle Story typewriter logo was designed by the fantastic Robert Higdon of Bunnyhawk fame.

Shannon Galpin: Riding to Revolution in Afghanistan

Shannon Galpin Mountain Biking Afghanistan
Shannon Galpin mountain biking in Afghanistan. Photo by Deni Bechard.

Most cyclists would agree that the bicycle is far more than the sum of its parts. As a means of transportation it has implications for climate change, socioeconomics, equity. As a sport it is medicine for our mental and physical well being. As a culture it connects us to people far and wide. And though it touches so many facets of our lives and is an important tool for change, most of us in developed countries would stop short of saying that bicycling is revolutionary. In a country such as Afghanistan however, bicycling has the potential for revolutionary transformation. It is, as Shannon Galpin discovered, a metaphorical and literal vehicle for improving the lives of women and girls living in a country consistently ranked among the worst on women’s rights.

Galpin first traveled to Afghanistan in 2008 as as founder and President of Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit focused on women’s rights in conflict zones. Her work initially involved a wide array of arts and education projects. Then in 2009 she brought her mountain bike to the country, went for some rides, sparked the sort of conversations with locals she needed to have about why women weren’t allowed to bike, and found the new focal point for her mission. The intersection of bicycling and Afghani women’s rights was further solidified in 2012 when she met the newly-created women’s National Cycling Team. Now Galpin is working to support the team and use cycling as sport to shift the cultural taboos about women biking for transportation and fun. Along the way, she has written a memoir, helped produce a documentary, given TED talks, and continued advancing Mountain2Mountain’s mission. I spoke to Galpin about her work in Afghanistan, breaking norms as a woman on a bike, projects with Mountain2Mountain, the National Cycling Team, and much more.

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Alastair Humphreys: Epic Adventures are for Ordinary People

Alastair Humphreys Portrait
British Professional adventurer Alastair Humphreys. Photo by Alastair Humphreys.

For most of us, the idea of a months- or years-long expedition feels like an unrealistic dream. Maybe an extended bike tour or thru hike across mountains is appealing, but we convince ourselves it’s what other people do. It’s for someone with more time, more money, more expertise, special circumstances. If Alastair Humphreys is to be believed, however, adventurers are just ordinary people who put a departure date on the calendar and stick to their guns. Given that his accomplishments include riding his bike around the world on a four year tour, rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, walking across India, hiking and packrafting across Iceland, and dragging a specially-built cart across the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter desert, he’s probably a credible source.

Recently, Humphrey’s has worked hard to elevate the notion that adventuring is for everyone by encouraging people to take microadventures. Microadventures are meant to be easy and accessible for all. Leave from work, sleep on a hill under the stars somewhere just outside of the city, get back in time for your morning meeting. For his efforts advocating for everyday adventuring, National Geographic named him a 2012 Adventurer of the Year. I spoke with Humphrey’s about his lifetime of travels, the inspiration for pedaling around the world, how he’s managed to make this into a career, why people should take microadventures, and much more.

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