Ayesha McGowan has joined a Liv Racing training camp in Italy where she will spend two weeks getting to know her new teammates and to train in preparation for her debut as a trainee with the team later this summer.
McGowan is the first African American female professional cyclist and recently launched Thee Abundance Summit (opens in new tab), 'a virtual celebration of Black and Brown joy in cycling and the outdoors', that will be streamed on YouTube on March 26 and 27.
"It’s exciting. There’s a lot of training and racing, and eventually I found my way here. I have this amazing opportunity and I’m going to go for it," McGowan said from her team’s training camp in an interview with Hannah Walker as part of the UCI’s International Women’s Day series on Instagram.
"I’m looking forward to riding with other people, drafting again, pushing myself and seeing how the other women ride and learning from them. This is an amazing squad of pro cyclists and I’m just so lucky and excited to be here."
Liv Racing announced in February the addition of McGowan as a 'satellite rider' for 2021. McGowan will train with the WorldTeam for the goal of racing after August 1 - the UCI's date for teams to add trainees - according to a team press release.
McGowan has been a member of Liv Racing while competing domestically in the US, and has competed in top events such as the UCI 2.1 Joe Martin Stage Race, finishing in the top 10 in a stage into Fayetteville and 33rd overall in the 2019 edition. She also raced at the women's-only UCI 2.1 Colorado Classic.
"I met [my teammates] yesterday and today was my first training ride at camp for the next two weeks," McGowan said. "This is the first day of school for me. There will be long rides, intervals, the usual, this is my first WorldTour training camp."
In the interview, Walker cited a quote from McGowan: "If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. I’m still having a good time even on my bad days," and when asked about the significance of those words, McGowan spoke of the importance of positivity.
"Positivity has been the thing that keeps me going," McGowan said. "I always try to remember that if I have a hard day training, that will make me better on a race day, because if I suffer now, I’ll suffer less later- that’s my go-to thought when I’m having a rough time, I’ll thank myself later."
McGowan was named to Cyclingnews' The Power List: The 50 most influential people in cycling in 2020. She has been advocating for better representation in the bike industry for years, using her voice to support and speak up for increased diversity inside the sport's brands, organisations, events, teams and media.
She is also well-known for her work in building and maintaining A Quick Brown Fox website that includes her blog along with The Quick Brown Foxes Podcast (opens in new tab). She has made outstanding progress in inspiring, influencing and leading the next generation of African American women in cycling.
"Representation is super important, and authentic representation is super important, and it's more than just the tokenism of putting a Black or Brown face and thinking that it’s done," McGowan said.
"I am not here because I am Black. I am here and I am Black. That is a difference that a lot of folks aren’t fully aware of or accepting of, yet. It’s really cool to be able to represent in a positive and authentic way and I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got and I’m really excited."
Thee Abundance Summit
McGowan has launched Thee Abundance Summit, 'a virtual celebration of Black and Brown joy in cycling and the outdoors'. She will co-host the summit with author, presenter and cyclist Jools Walker, and bike mechanic and advocate, Olivia Williams.
The event is supported by Zwift, Liv Cycling, SRAM, and Backcountry.com, and will be streamed on YouTube on March 26 and 27.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary that I host a celebration of joy. All too often we are only invited to share our pain, our struggles, and our sorrows. This is a space where we, as Black and Brown people in the cycling and outdoor communities, can bring our full selves with the sole purpose of having a good time," McGowan said in the announcement.
"The event is for, by, and about Black and Brown folks, though everyone is welcome and invited to attend."
There will be an opportunity for voluntary donations to a mini-grant programme that McGowan has developed to help provide a pathway to inspiration, experience, and upgrade points for Black and Brown women who are amateur or beginner road racers.
McGowan announced that the mini-grant programme will support five to seven women of colour with free entry fees and support to race the Tour of America's Dairyland (TOAD) racing series held from June 17-12 in communities throughout South-east Wisconsin.
Thee Abundance Summit will include:
- A Keynote from Courtney Williams of The Brown Bike Girl and the NYC Bike Mayor
- Workshops include Storytelling on Instagram with Rachel Olzer, Basic Photography with Eric Arce, How to Purchase a Bike with Laura Solís, and Creating Zines with Christina Torres
- Panels on insights from youth cyclists and OG adventurers in the outdoors, including US Olympic Silver Medalist Nelson Vails
- A Group Ride on Zwift led by The Black Foxes
- Tea Time with Ayesha McGowan featuring special guests
- A Live DJ Dance Party with DJ Black Daria
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.