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I consider myself lucky to have landed Simone Giuliani as a consulting editor for Ella. While we are both journalists, our professional backgrounds couldn’t be any more different. Simone has worked for Reuters and Bloomberg and brings with her tricks, techniques and expertise from her years in business journalism. Her input has already been of huge benefit to CyclingTips as a whole, and I’m confident she will continue to help us raise the bar in terms of coverage, best practices and behind-the-scenes systems and processes.
Until now, Simone’s connection to cycling has been limited to her leisure time. She rides – on the road and in the dirt – with several different local groups. She has volunteered her time, talent and energy to local cycling advocacy organizations and the Cycling Australia media unit. Her passion for women’s cycling is driven, in part, by her two children as her story explains below.
Simone will oversee the meet category of the website and has been hard at work interviewing the women that are ‘movers and shakers’ in the world of women’s cycling. These women include team owners, women’s business managers within the industry, race organizers, cycling advocates, other journalists and of course the professional athletes that often play a huge role in advancing the sport. Feel free to reach out to Simone via comments to nominate your favorite women’s cycling movers and shakers for future features as part of this on-going series.
The exhilaration of weaving through tight singletrack on a mountain bike, the silly grin that explodes after emerging from a mud-filled cyclocross race and the satisfaction of making it all the way up that long iconic road climb are just some of the reasons cycling has been firmly embedded in my existence for more than a decade. But it was just a simple conversation with my two young children that opened my eyes to the world of professional women’s cycling.
We had just watched the highlights package of a Tour de France stage when my daughter, who was 10 at the time, asked why they didn’t have women’s races like that on television. My six-year-old son jumped in before I could answer. “Girls don’t race bikes,” he said.
He watched his older sister’s face twist with indignation and turned to me for support, but all he saw was my mouth hanging open with surprise, so he quickly and uncertainly added: “Not like that anyway, not in big races with teams. Do they?”
Until that very moment it hadn’t even occurred to me that while my children had a strong example at home of both genders pursuing the sport and were lucky enough to have a local cycling community that strongly supported female riders and racers, it didn’t in any way transfer to their experience of the top level of cycling.
Our home was filled with cycling magazines full of pictures and articles about men, on television we watched lots of men’s races because that was largely what was broadcast, and we travelled to watch the men race because the names of the sport that we knew and followed were men. It really shouldn’t have surprised me at all that my son thought there was no women’s professional racing. He had never been exposed to it.
It was only after his comment that I really began to think about what a big part of the sport I was missing and how much impact the lack of balance in the coverage of cycling may have on how many women and girls are inclined to give it a go. I certainly didn’t want my daughter, who was approaching the impressionable teenage years, giving up on a sport that gave her so much enjoyment because those around her perceived it as a pastime for kids and men. What I wanted was for her to be inspired by seeing young women that she could relate to out there conquering the top level of the sport.
It was for these reasons that I started making the effort to find out a little more about women’s professional cycling and getting to know a little bit more about the riders, the teams and the races. Before long it was no effort at all, cycling had yet again opened up a whole new side of itself to keep me interested and excited.
Initially for me cycling was just a way of getting around. It then became another way of exploring the bush. Soon it became more about the experience of riding the mountain bike than being in the bush. Next a talented former mountain biker called Cadel Evans, who grew up near where I lived, started riding the Tour de France, so I started watching it. Then watching it wasn’t enough. I wanted to go and ride those mountains, so it was time to take to the road and train up for a trip to France. After that a couple of family members started racing cyclocross and it seemed silly to just stand and watch when it looked like so much fun, so another bike was required and another way of enjoying cycling discovered. Then, less than two years after women’s cycling hit my radar because of the innocent comment that “girls don’t race bikes,” I was reading the CyclingTips email newsletter and saw mention of plans to start hiring for a women’s cycling section.
It was the perfect opportunity for me but my first thought was simply: I can’t wait to read that. Since I had started out in journalism 18 years ago with the global news service Bloomberg, it was business writing I had turned to for work. Any cycling-related writing had either been for my own entertainment or a means of helping out my local club or advocacy group.
However, it didn’t take long for my thoughts to shift from how much I would enjoy having this new site available to how much I would actually like to be involved in Ella CyclingTips. Helping play a part in a site delivering the fascinating stories of the women’s peloton and recreational riders alike was a tantalising prospect. The decision to put in a job application was quickly made and cycling has now, yet again, opened up a new and exciting path.
It’s a path I’m eager to share with all of you.