Jessica Cutler at Nationals in Boulder. Photo by Lori Brazel.
Like many women in the American pro peloton, Jessica Cutler came to cycling fairly late. She didn’t really start racing competitively until her late 20s and signed her first pro contract at 32. She’s been making up for lost time over the last three years, though. The time-trial specialist has notched dozens of time trial wins and lots of top-5s and -10s in stage racing, cyclocross, and track. And–again like many of her pro-racer colleagues–she’s accomplished all this while holding down a job at home; in her case as a family lawyer. I sat down with Cutler in the weeks between the end of road season and the start of cross to talk about her race career, riding through injuries, balancing law work and cycling, the need for pro women to find outside financial support, the tough path to gender parity in cycling, and plenty more.
Kat Sweet at the I5 Colonnade mountain bike park in Seattle. Photo by Meg Valliant.
Though mountain biking has been a male-dominated sport from the get go, there have always been a small contingent of women along for the ride. Jacquie Phelan, Juli Furtado, Rebecca Rusch, Marla Streb and many others all played pioneering roles in mountain biking’s development. Like them, Kat Sweet‘s mountain bike career has helped break down barriers for women and clear a path for today’s riders, especially in downhill where she was one of just a handful of women racing in those early days.
Sweet’s bike life has spanned nearly three decades of professional racing, freeride competitions, contest promotion, and coaching. These days her focus is on the latter two with her Sugar Showdown contest series for women freeriders and her Sweetlines Coaching business. Specializing in freeride coaching for women and kids, Sweet is working to foster the next generation of mountain biker rippers and grow the “sisterhood of shred.” I spoke with her about her long history in mountain biking, her unexpected foray into coaching, breaking down barriers to entry as a mentor for women riders, and much more.
Photo by Michele Zebrowitz.
Cycling in the United States has a pervasive gender gap. Solid numbers are hard to come by, but some studies suggest that there as many as two or three men riding for every one woman on a bike. A search of “cycling’s gender gap” brings up a slew of articles theorizing the root cause, from gear to safety issues to infrastructure to socioeconomics. In the last few years, the conversation on why there’s a gap and how to address it has been elevated–if not to the mainstream, then certainly a lot closer to it. Accompanying efforts are popping up around the country to help get more women on bikes. National, state, and local advocacy groups are launching women’s initiatives. A new documentary called Half the Road examines the current state of women’s professional cycling and their struggles for equality. This year’s Tour de France feature’s a one-day women’s circuit race on the Champs-Elysées (admittedly a baby step towards an equal Tour de France for women, but a step nonetheless).
Sarai Snyder is an active and prominent voice among these women’s cycling efforts. She is the founder of Girl Bike Love, an online publication dedicated to all aspects of women’s cycling, and Cyclofemme, an annual, global cycling event celebrating women and bikes. I spoke to Snyder about her work with Girl Bike Love and Cyclofemme, the opportunities and challenges she sees for advancing her cause, the potential power of unifying cycling’s separated voices, and much more.
Posted in Bike Industry, Cycling Media, Interviews, Racing
Tagged boulder colorado, cyclofemme, gender gap in cycling, girl bike love, professional women's cycling, sarai snyder, women and bikes, women and cycling
Photo by Ed Felkerino.
From policy wonks working to effect change to trail builders giving mountain bikers a place to ride to a cyclist helping a friend buy a bike; advocacy comes in many forms. Mary Gersemalina’s version of bike advocacy falls somewhere on that spectrum with a marriage of coffee and cycling. Mary created coffeeneuring, a formalized coffee shop ride series that plays on the rigid rules of randonneuring (Mary is also an accomplished randonneur). Though the whole thing may sound a little odd at first blush, coffeeneuring is catching on and getting people out on their bikes and last year expanded to include participants in Canada, Europe, and Australia. Mary and her husband, Ed Felkerino, are also behind Washington DC’s Friday Coffee Club, a weekly, pre-work event that encourages DC’s bike commuters to stop and get to know one another.
In this interview, Mary discusses her inspiration for coffeeneuring and its quick growth, the impact of Friday Coffee Club, the attraction of 750 mile bike rides, her randonneuring adventures in the US and abroad, and more.
Photo from theroaddiaries.com.
A relative newcomer to the sport of cyclocross, Elle Anderson came into this season swinging hard. She bagged four wins in a row, taking the top step on both days of the Trek CXC Cup and both days of the Grand Prix of Gloucester. To the casual cyclocross observer, it seemed like Anderson had simply appeared out of thin air. I spoke to her about her success so far this season and how it’s shaping her cycling goals, her short career as a cyclist and long history as an elite athlete, balancing a non-racing career with her high-level racing, and much more.