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 RIDE THE REVOLUTION The Inside Stories from Women in Cycling


hen I first sat down to read Ride the Revolution this summer (ironically at the top of the Mont Ventoux waiting for my husband and three boys to finish their climb), I gave myself a little pop-quiz, asking myself (a) how many famous women cyclists did I know and (b) how many books could I remember reading (and/or seeing on bookshop shelves) regarding women in cycling. I’m ashamed to write that I didn’t need any more fingers to perform these tallies. I guess it’s not surprising that my knowledge revolved around the last Olympics in London, both in naming the cyclists and their subsequent biographies. After searching the internet I also discovered that there wasn’t actually an extensive list of women’s books, especially in comparison to the monstrous numbers provided via the world of male cycling (many of which I have enjoyed, I hasten to add). Hence I looked forward to educating myself about my own sex in the cycling arena and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. (Conveniently, this book also provides a list of related books for those whose curiosity has been aroused during the read.)

hence accrue negative publicity due to the current narrow talent base. On a similar note, I also found the interview with Brain Cookson (President of the UCI) thoughtprovoking, highlighting that it can be tricky for men to comment on any aspect of female cycling without bringing out “the politicalcorrectness police” (my words, not his).

As the title suggests, the book does look at the historical struggle for female equality in cycling from Beryl Burton to Marianne Vos. All the riders mentioned share an incredible passion for their sport, be it road, track, cyclocross, mountain biking or paracycling. Their individual stories highlight their dogged determination and their ability to juggle work with their family commitments, and it is wonderful to hear them speak of their families’ support and how they were inspired by older riders. Furthermore it was interesting to learn about riders taking the sport up competitively relatively late, and experiencing ageism rather than sexism, and those who came into cycling after another sport.

Overall this book is an encyclopaedia for women’s cycling – sit down and come up with a list of everything you can think of associated with cycling and I’m convinced this book will cover the lot. For me, this book is an interesting go-to book and I will recommend it to the female (and male) cyclists in my club, especially the young riders looking for potential careers in cycling. If I were to find criticisms, it would be that it was slightly overwhelming in terms of its extensive breadth of coverage, and its inconsistent mixture of narrative and dialogue (interview) did sometimes affect the book’s overall flow.

Many of the riders’ stories were biographical accounts, including very human experiences such as De Vries’ comic account of peeing in bib shorts, and the reminders of the very real dangers encountered in racing, such as Dede Barry’s teammate Nicole Reinhart’s tragic death. I was particularly pleased to read Marianne Vos’ unbiased views on the revolution, where she states that although female cycling should be pushed for recognition, it should not be hurried and


Cycling World November 2015

Although competitive cycling is a major focus, all aspects of cycling are considered here, including the experiences and journeys of a multi-national range of females permeating all aspects of men’s cycling (chefs, soigneurs, photographers, administrators, journalists, campaigners, commentators, mechanics, the list goes on……), and I did feel that passionate readers, for whatever reasons unable to make it competitively in cycling, could use these experiences to stimulate their enquiry into alternative careers within cycling. On top of the cyclists’ accounts and those regarding the additional roles of women in cycling generally, the book also covers important issues such as mental health and even the problems encountered by some to find the perfect cycling-clothing.

Reviewer: Nicola Robinson (Wife and Mother to four OCD (Obsessive Cycling Disorder) males and member of Thanet Road Club, Kent)

Book Review

By Suzie Clemitson Bloomsbury ISBN: 9781472912916 Publication date: 22/10/15 £16.99 Hardback

Cycling World November 2015  

Women's cycling: Inspirational riding

Cycling World November 2015  

Women's cycling: Inspirational riding