What. A. Year. From that freezing, wet Strade Bianche, back-to-back wins mid-season in France, third at La Course, and earning a GC podium in a Grand Tour, 2018 has been my best season ever. It’s also been a big year as UCI has finally created policy to implement a minimum wage, a tiered structure, and other (what most would call basic) working regulations.
The new reforms will be enforced by 2020 so it got me thinking about what we can do now. The issues of women's cycling are complex so, while the UCI can tackle top-down policy, to see sustainable positive change, there must be diverse solutions at all levels. Actionable change can come in any shape and size including, as I recently discovered, in the form of a week-long cycling holiday tour.
When we started Rocacorba Cycling using it as a platform to help women's cycling was always at the core of our manifesto. Our first endeavour was the Girona Tour, which I personally hosted in October. It was a week-long five-stage tour. It included lots of coffee stops, all my favourite roads and a bunch of new friends. On the surface it was a cycling holiday tour, but it was also an opportunity to not just allow but also to welcome supportive cyclists and fans into the process. By making real-life connections with other cyclists, I saw how powerful one person and one connection can be.
As in any new venture, I was excited but unsure of how the week would go. Would everyone get along? How could I make sure everyone felt included? Was the weather going to hold up? As the riders arrived, I saw they also had “new experience” jitters but as soon as we hopped on our bikes, all of our concerns melted away. There was a wide range of abilities, different experience levels, and different approaches to cycling but it didn’t matter. Cycling has the unique quality that allows everyone to ride with anyone. By the end of the week we were all happily physically tired but mentally energized.
That energy stayed with me. By taking down all the barriers and allowing people in during a simple cycling tour, I felt that I had made actual change! Real lasting positive change. It seems small but I know everyone left with a sense of connection that will touch their relationship with women’s cycling forever.
The future of our sport is in connecting the dots, making deeper lasting connections, and doing that in as many different ways as possible whether that’s a minimum wage policy or a coffee with a new friend during a holiday tour. The beauty of women’s cycling is that it has the opportunity to be open and welcoming to different models and practices. There are so many different ways to advance women’s cycling and, with a multitude of attack points and an open mindset, everyone (especially professionals) can contribute to the growth and sustainability of our sport.
Ride with me next year from October 11-15, 2019. Click here for more information.