Friday, 8 July 2011

Women in Cycling - New CV Grant

I am watching this one from the side line, with interest. It was on the cards that CV would be successful in gaining funds (Vic Govt Sport and Rec I assume) to develop opportunities for increased participation of women in cycling.

For  most of us, that phrase "increased participation of women in cycling" immediately makes us think of chicks on bikes, preferably racing, because we are CV members and we race. I don't think that's an unreasonable assumption. But I did have my doubts as to whether that is what the CV Board Executive had in mind for this money.

My doubts were validated when CV put a call out for "all women officers "  to attend a forum, to be held at MSAC. This rang alarm bells for me in regard to 1. the cost of the venue and 2. CVs intention and direction for increasing female participation. When the grant was announced, a few Facebook buddies and I joked about more women to bring a plate. Looks like we weren't wrong.

I heard off the record that 10 women and 6 men attended this function. I am not sure what was discussed explicitly, although the St Kilda model was presented. My understanding of the St Kilda model is to get as many female members as possible. This helps support future grant applications, by demonstrating growth in female participation in the sport. The cynic in me asks, how many are racing ie what percentage of total female membership is racing. From my knowledge of previous membership figures, I'd estimate only 25%. Not a very high transition rate from bringing a plate socialising and coffee rides, to racing.

I'm looking forward to more publicity regarding CV's intentions with this grant, and perhaps an agenda of events/project planning so that the CV membership can see where this money will be spent, what the projected outcomes are, what the measurements will be, and to determine what real world results will be achieved.

But I ain't holding my breath. I suspect another project officer may be employed, and more functions for women who bring a plate at expensive venues will be on the board. I hope I am wrong and look forward to being proven so.

PS if the CV Board Exec are serious about women in leadership/sports administration roles, they could start at home. Currently there is at least one spot on the Board available, and I think two, to which women could easily be seconded. Let's see the Exec back up the rhetoric with action.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Vale Moonie.

One of the special ones died peacefully in his sleep yesterday morning, in the short hours before dawn. Despite the Cushings, he was well, bright, chirpy and cheeky as usual in the days prior. He went as I had hoped he would: painlessly, without decline, peacefully and dignified as such a horse should. Moonie was a part of my life for 19 years, a good part of my adult life. He taught me much, and even in his death, he is still teaching.

I met Woodbine Moonriver when he was three, at his breeder's property where I agisted my Northern WB mare. He had been returned to Jan and Chiffa High by his then owner, a good friend of Jan's. Their personalities did not meet and Moonie was returned to find a more suitable home. I rode him in the months while Jan decided what to do with him, and she finally put him on the market. I hadn't the money at the time, and held my breath each time a campdrafter or showie came to try him out. None committed, and I kept riding him. Luck was eventually kind, and after a timely little pay out came my way, I bought the black grey with silver mane and tail.

Through Moonie and the Highs, I "met" Ray Hunt, and Tom Dorrance.  My interest in dressage grew, and I had lessons with each clinician Jan brought onto her property, and travelled with her to others. I began to read the Classics and the Greats of dressage, and to put that into practice with Moonie.   Moonie was always tolerant to a point, but was happy to tell me when I was wrong, or not quite right, or unbalanced, or annoying him. Canter aid not to his liking? He'd squeal with delight and pigroot. I found out by accident his potential for piaffe coming home one day from beach riding. He was doing his usual homeward jigjog (which he never grew out of, and was frequently as annoying as hell!) and I asked for more,  but on the spot. Moonie was happy to give it. He thought he was pretty clever!

Moonie was always gracious with those he liked and trusted. He was constantly referred to as a complete gentleman by most he met, from vets and farriers to fellow competitors and parents of patting kids. People often mistook him for an andalusian, or a warmblood from a distance, and refused to believe he was registered full stockhorse. He seemed to radiate bigness in size as well as personality, despite his 14.3 hh stature, particularly when on show. In the dressage ring, he would become larger than life, and double in size and power, channeling his inner stallion More often than not, I was barely in control as he kept telling me "hang on woman, I know what I am doing, more than you do!!"  His showing off led to some amazing offerings in the training arena, where he would frequently blow me away with his cleverness, making one plus one equal not two, but three, and then four. He taught me to trust my horse and to allow space for self expression, as well as negotiation, to the point where I was happy to let him tell me if today was an arena day, or a bush riding day. If you give a horse room to be, and to give, they will.

He was incredibly affectionate and cuddly. It was an in-joke that Moonie loved his food, but he loved attention, and just hanging out with his person,  as much if not more.He was absolutely a people horse. If your horse asks for you to scratch his rump, take the time to do it. I'm glad I did late last week despite being in a bit of a hurry. He caught me that day with the twinkle of his eye;  always the charmer.

One particular incident, that happened only last year, exemplifies for me my relationship with Moonie. He was off colour one evening, and I wasn't comfortable about it. At 10.30 that night, we got up and went out to the agistment to check him. He was exactly where we left him,and obviously not quite right,  a bit colicky. So after a little tummy massage, I began to walk him up and down his paddock. I didn't need a halter, he came with me, with his muzzle by my leg, glued to my hand. We walked like this for some time, up and down in the moonlight. When I left him that night, I knew he was going to be ok, but somehow he left me a little richer for the experience.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Gratuitous Blog Post

Because it's been two months since the last one!
Such is life. For those who may be interested, and too bad for those who are not (and if not, why are you reading this anyway???hehe)

  • Yes I am still riding
  • no I am not training
  • which means no, I am not racing
  • but yes, I am once again MelbRoobaixing this year (woohootsville!!!)
  • yoga is good for the soul as well as the body
  • as is meditation
  • study is drag when the course material is poorly written and the assignment questions have little pedagogical value
  • but I then have fun answering the questions literally, and then providing the real answer to the question as I have rewritten it. (I wonder where my son gets it from??)
  • my dog is getting old, which means when we go for walks, we walk like an old dog
  • I can't deadlift as much as I could in January, but I don't really care too much (unless I think about it in these terms)
  • Facebook is same old same old. Maybe I am reading too many Buddhist texts instead
  • I am tweeting more than I am blogging. Pithiness has its place. Meet me there.
  • I finally found a comfrey and aloe vera plant, so my life is complete
And now for some cycling politics:

Max Stevens has garnered some more comment below. Check it out. This guy seems to be a right piece of work, and is STILL writing media releases for Cycling SA. Go figure. The Boys' Club prevails.

And more on the Boys' Club: Cycling Victoria (apparently there is no sport in Cycling and that part of the name has been dropped. This also serves to make it look like Cycling Vic is THE lobby group for cycling in the state. Or, hopefully, so the Minister for Sport will believe). The State By-laws are under review and have been rewritten. Check here for your reading pleasure. I am yet to read them, and compare them to the existing by-laws for comparison. I plan to in the very near future (ie the weekend) and then I fully intend to take up my membership right and make comment in writing via email to the GM Kipp Kaufman. I strongly recommend that you do too, if you race bikes in Victoria. Be political, get involved and have a say while the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise your voice will be more readily ignored, and you will be labelled a noisy rabbleous type like me when you speak outside of designated opportunities, such as this one. So do it.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Dear Anonymous

Dear Anonymouses

if you want to comment on my blog, please at least have the courtesy, and balls, to add a name to your thoughts. I sure as hell do, so why not reciprocate.

After this post, my new policy is to ignore all anonymous comments. Unless I want to have a laugh by publicly ridiculing (which I will if I can get a cheap joke out of it), or it makes a truly genuine contribution to the discussion (even if you disagree with me). If you don't know how to comment un-anonymously, learn. It's not hard! You can also simply add your name to the text of your comment. Not only is it not hard, it's not rocket science.

So dear Anonymous, get a name and stand up for yourself.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Which license is it today????

The Victorian Female Masters Cyclist of the Year has just raced World Cup in Manchester this last week.

Jess Laws is living the dream, and all kudos to her for putting it on the line, stepping up to her goals, dreams and ambitions and doing what most of us just fantasize about while at our work computers. This post is not about Jess, but about process, and those who govern our sport, and transparency.

The selection process for Victorian Cyclist of the Year is usually straight forward. A selection panel composed of a number in the know would count how many wins/placingss Victorian cyclists in each category (JW/JM/EW/EM/MW/MM) had in a designated time frame, within the state for road, and for track. Apparently World events used not to count (although Steve Sansonetti won Male Master a few years back based solely on his World Masters Track Champ wins, because he didn’t win or beat any other male masters athletes at the local opens).  Nationals are contentious but are sometimes included. It is assumed that eligibility for each category is dependent on the license held by the cyclist. Ie a master’s licensed cyclist is not eligible to be considered for the elite category, even if they race elite at some events.

So this begs the following questions in regard to selection of Vic Cyclist of the Year:

1.      Who is on the selection panel?
2.      What criteria are used? Ie what events, results etc?
3.      Is each category governed by license type? Masters can change categories once during the year – how does that impact their eligibility for a category? Are they eligible for both categories in which they raced then? If so, is that fair and reasonable?

I suspect the recent selections were without clear criteria, which resulted in Jess’s award. If Jess is on an elite license (and I would gather this is the case, considering the international and national events she raced in 2010) then the criteria used for her selection should also apply to the likes of Helen Kelly etc. It certainly makes a bit of a mockery of Cyclist of the Year award in the masters’ category.

Lack of clear and transparent process results in a situation that leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths, and in the current climate of women’s cycling being slapped around the face with a dead fish, it does nothing to engender faith and confidence by female cyclists in our state sporting organisation. Add to this the fact that only ONE elite woman was selected for the Victorian track team to race elite nationals (the same woman who was Masters Cyclist of the Year), it says a lot about the approach CSV has to women’s racing, and team selection. Why would women train hard, spend hours of time, energy and money competing when they know they have very little chance of being recognised for their efforts (via Cyclist of the Year) in their respective categories, let alone being selected to represent the state to compete at nationals (despite any wins/placings at state titles, and major open events). Better off riding down Beach Road for a coffee, or even yet, doing CSV’s rec rides!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Max Stevens - please explain

Max Stevens is looking like a bit of an embarassment for Cycling SA. Poor man has been in the news a bit of late, with his latest efforts at being unintelligent consisting of driving the Cycling SA van whilst disqualified for, of all things, drink driving, as well as loss of demerit points (lost before the drink driving charge apparently). A little bit hypocritical in light of his statement re: Dale Parker's drink driving charges. Pot, kettle, black anyone? Obviously Stevens thinks that identifying cyclists on the road will provide greater protection from drink drivers, such as himself.

Perhaps Stevens is a bit under the pump at the moment with domestic issues?

That might explain these comments he made recently about women's cycling in SA?

It would appear Max Stevens has helpful friends in convenient places so it's unfortunate for him, they were not able to assist with his lack of demerit points.

Or is it simply a case, as Stevens claims, of being harassed and persecuted by Adelaide news media?

How to get funding....

Equestrian Australia's High Performance Plans were released today. What's this got to do with bikes? After reading the first few lines, I was struck by the similarity to the structure and pathways surrounding Australia's new pro team GreenEdge Cycling. (Cyclingtips is as good as any to read about GreenEdge). If one cares to take a look at the pathways structure around GreenEdge, it's incredibly similar to that prescribed by EA, needed to meet government funding requirements.

When I saw GreenEdge's pathway, with all it's links to NTID programs, State Institutes of Sport etc, I smelt ASC money. Now that smell is stronger, with EA's version of how they will spend their government money. There is nothing wrong with that, but let's call a spade a spade. Just because Shane Bannan said the team wouldn't be using government money, doesn't mean it isn't a viable prospect because of government money. I'd bet on my hunches with this one anyday. At least EA is up front and transparent about their bucket of money and how they plan to justify spending it.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Let them eat cake

It is with great glee I read this via a tweet from @csv this morning.

It brings a sense of closure to me, after butting heads with a stone wall ever since I failed to regain Board membership at last year’s AGM, I have been a persona non grata within CSV ranks. This includes no longer receiving notifications, agendas and minutes of Race Commission meetings, despite being advised I was still a member of that commission.. Well until last week that is, when I was told the Commission had been dissolved some time ago. Funny, as members of that Commission were asking if I was attending meetings in January, and the Commission Chair seemed to think the Commission was still in existence a just under a month ago. But apart from those verbal discussions, I’ve had nothing but silence, and last week complete denial. How do you get rid of people you don’t want from a Commission? You restructure, change the name of the commission, and tell the people you don’t want on board that the commission no longer exists. In business such restructures happen all the time. The process fails in credibility when the advertised new position looks and sounds just like the old one, with a minor tweak to the position title.

Anyway, I feel a sense of closure, and that it is time to move on from cycling governance and politics. It’s been a funny week, with women copping a fair blow in track racing, losing the diamonds from the Ladies’ Diamond Stakes, junior women failing to be acknowledged in racing lists in the fixture, and dumbarse, patronising comments from Max Stevens of Cycling SA in regard to the type of women he wants racing in particular events in that state. Mothers, aunts and bunnies do not qualify, need not enter.

It’s frustrating and bloody annoying to look back on the time and effort and work put in over the last 4 or so years, and realise that the dent made is invisible, quickly puttied over when you turn your back for a moment. Ground hog day. What did I achieve in that time? Nothing.  An omnium that will be non-existent in its current format as of next year (including being a girls only day out if the new format Race Commission has its way). As I won’t be there to argue the case, the format WILL change, guaranteed. The boys win, nothing changes and the System keeps grinding on.

What do I see as the main issues with Cycling governance in Victoria?
·         Poor communication
·         Lack of transparency
·         Lack of focus (core function guys!! What is it?? )
·         Poor communication (oo did I say that?)
·         Lack of understanding of grass roots racing (ie club level, not marginal groups that attract Vic Sport and Rec funding grants)
·         Egos (personal and between individuals)
·         Lack of acknowledgement, true, genuine meaningful acknowledgement of the volunteer base that actually does the work of running races
·         Burnout of those volunteers
·         Lack of support for those volunteers – many pay their own way the whole way to officiate at races, provide their own resources and equipment to do their job properly
·         Patronising lip service only to issues of importance to club racers ie all talk no action, no real care

I had a nice chat with one of my mentors over the weekend and it was clarifying. It made me realise it really is time to move on. The sport administration/governance is not ready for women, not ready for shifting too far from what it is comfortable and familiar with, which is looking after its very own, and doing its own thing in what is actually a highly dysfunctional manner. If cycling governance was a small business, it would be broke and without customers. Currently it survives because people want to race, and they make it happen.

As for me, I’ll race when and where I feel like it, and enjoy my chosen sports. I have a full time job, part time study, a new business to get up and running, two horses to look after and work. I think one race this season is pretty good going, and I achieved more than I had planned. As for those who govern our sport, I wish them luck, because they are going to need it.

Friday, 21 January 2011


And now for something completely different. The handsome fella above is coming back to me, to stay permanently. I am stoked and excited to have Moonie back, after 6 years away. We are coming full circle, and what was started 19 years ago when I bought Moonie and began a journey of understanding myself and understanding horses, and who we are together, will be returned. Now I can take those 19 years of learning and give them back to a lovely mature soul who will need some TLC in his last decade.

He will be expecting some fanclub visits too. That means you Sue! ;-)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Victorian Women's Omnium 2011

photo by Leanne Cole

What do you do when, late on Saturday afternoon a bunch of people start goading you into racing a state championship the next day, when you’ve not been training for it (ie minimal intensity work), haven’t raced for 9 months, haven’t even contemplated doing it and therefore haven’t sorted gear, food etc? Why you go see the Chief Comm and enter of course!

So that was the state of play for me on Saturday, when I went into DISC to watch the final events in the Men’s State Omnium Champs. And it started: why aren’t you racing? You should be racing. So you are going to bring your bike in with you tomorrow?? No, NOT the road bike, the other one! As I was helping Nancyboi to pack the car after he’d finished racing, the little seeds of goading encouragement started to sprout, and I decided I’d do it. Put my bike where my mouth was. Numbers were lower than in previous years, and the WMAS division was very sparse, and would benefit from an extra number. So I did it.

It’s an odd feeling packing for a state championship as though it’s another Saturday morning Perko training session, but that’s basically what I did, except I would be training on my race wheels, on a bigger gear, and had to pack more food, and wear my Sam Miranda kit instead of my training kit. I didn’t take aero bars, or my aero helmet. I kept it simple and sweet, no pressure. It’s a bit of mind shift to be absolutely not racing one minute and packing to race the next. And not just racing a TT or a scratch, but five very different events in 4-5 hrs.

Normally I am on the other side of the fence for the omnium, so it was pretty exciting to be experiencing it from the perspective of those for whom I help run it. First event was the 500m. I ended up racing the same gear as I did at States and Nationals last year, and kept that gear on the whole way through. It was great – I didn’t have to fuss and bother with the bike once it was set up. My time for the 500m was the same as States, and a bit slower than Nationals, but I was stoked. No training, no racing,  and I haven’t lost anything there. And then I realised.. I’d won the first event. That was a bit of shock, as I hadn’t even thought about winning. I was just there to ride my bike.

Next was the flying 200 and I was really happy with my entry; a good line and held it in place. My time ended up being a PB, and again, I was in first place. I was stoked! The two events I was really interested in, I did times I was happy with, and won both. It wasn’t until someone mentioned to me that all I had to do was win the next event….. and it hit me. I was racing. This was the real thing, not just “training”, which is how I was thinking when I walked onto the track for the TT.

Scratch race, and I attempted a breakaway by hitting them from behind. But I wasn’t fully convinced myself, and ended up with an observant Claire Campbell seeing my move early, and Bec Williamson jumping on Claire’s wagon, leaving us fighting it to the line with a little under a bike length between Claire in first and me in third place. It was on! The two girls are faster than me over distance, and my only hope was to catch them off guard and hit them at speed, gapping them.

The pursuit was going to be a non-event for me. It’s been three seasons since I have pursuited, and there is a reason for that! I had a plan just to get through with some legs left for the final event: hold a particular speed and increase it slightly every couple of laps. It kinda worked, although I couldn’t lift it in the final laps and hold it. Second place for me.

 photo by Leanne Cole

Our final event was a 10 lap points with a sprint at 6 and 1 to go. Claire and I were breathing down each others’ necks on the leader board. I had a plan, chatted with Coach Gary, mentally rehearsed the first part of my plan, and hoped like hell my legs could do the work. We rolled half lap turns and with 7 to go, I was on the front, as planned. And then I started it: backing into the girls, slowing them right down, 34 kph, 33 kph, 32 kph. In the back straight I jumped and hit the accelerator with all I had. I gapped them, managing to hold them off over the line, with Claire just catching me after I passed the line. First sprint mine and a declaration of this is my race, come get it from me. My plan was to do the same two laps from the finish, and as we rolled into the first bend with two to go, I slowed right down: 31kph was on the dial. I was getting edgy, thinking they are going to jump, surely I can’t get away with doing this again? As we came to corner two, I couldn’t wait any longer, and I jumped with all I had for a second time. This time, the girls were waiting for my move, and it was a battle all the way to the finish. I swung a hook or two (one was excessive and I am lucky to have not been relegated), kept Claire up high on my hip, and into the home straight she slowly edged her way past me to take it right on the line. A couple of metres out from the line, I had nothing more to go with, and I was thinking we’d be up for a photo finish. What a way to finish the omnium – right down to the wire! But as it was, Claire beat me by a third of a wheel with Bec hard on us for third.

 photo by Leanne Cole

For me, it was fantastic to be racing an event I’ve supported since its inception, and haven’t had the opportunity to race because I have been busy on the floor. It was also a great confidence booster as well, as I have been avoiding racing because I’ve not been “training” and thought I wasn’t “race fit”. I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be racing. It was also awesome to realise I have lost no speed in the last 6 months, just speed endurance and some general “race” endurance.  And somewhere along the way, I’ve picked up a race brain …..  

 photo by Leanne Cole

Thanks to Coach Brad and Coach Gazman for the teasing, goading, encouragement to get me to enter. And thanks to Coaches Paulee and Gazman for the racing wisdom. Thanks to Domestique Nancy for unpacking and packing up my playpen and making sure my picnic basket was full of goodies. And finally a big thank you to the officials and girls/women who put their money where their mouth is, doing the very real and hard work of making the omnium a reality each year.