It's All About the Journey

By: Molly Hurford Dec 4

Share |

It really is all about the journey. (Or just Journey, if you're referring to our 12 AM singalong to Don't Stop Believing)

Most people know Justin Lindine as the quiet, sedate Honey Badger, who gives it everything when he's on the course, wearing his heart on his sleeve. Some people know him from Jeremy Durrin's live tweets of their drive to Kentucky last season, and those who know him from that know him as the excitable pop-song blaring bike racer who is just pumped about racing. So… will the real Justin Lindine please stand up?

After making the same sojourn with him this year, I can (almost) answer that. Or, at least, I can say without a doubt that Lindine can spit out Eminem lyrics like it's 1999 and we're at a high school dance, though this time around, we get to listen to the uncensored versions.

I'll take it back a few steps, to better explain how I ended up in a truck with Lindine for 35 hours …

Many of you New Englanders (and US 'crossers in general) know the name Justin Lindine, or, as he's more commonly referred to, The Honey Badger. And you may have read his defense of his car ride/pre-race playliston this very site last year, after fellow 'crosser Jeremy Durrin outed him on Twitter as a Ke$ha-listening road trip superstar. After following both the live-tweeting of the trip and the aftermath, I couldn't help but feel like Lindine and I were kindred spirits. Any racer with Party in the USA and We Are Who We Are on a playlist seems like a pre-race soulmate to me, since my iPod features nearly the same playlist.

Jump ahead nearly a year, and that same USGP race in Louisville was on the horizon, I had moved to Lindine's neck of the woods, and the Honey Badger and his awesome wife had become regulars at dinner at my new homestead. So when he mentioned that he was planning to again drive the 17 hours to Kentucky to race, I jumped at the chance to casually suggest that we road trip down together.

He accepted, and the road trip to Kentucky for 2012 had begun.

The trip started the day of the Nor'Easter, a Wednesday like any other day. Lindine (I still can't bring myself to call him Justin after a year of writing about him strictly by last name) and I opted to take my truck since I can't drive a standard (no commentary on this, please!) and as we backed out of the driveway, I was struck with a teensy bit of trepidation: what in the hell would we possibly talk about for the 10 hours in the car before we reached Pittsburgh?

Like many awkward new friends, we turned to the obvious: bike racing and the weather. The snowy skies ahead allowed for exchanging pleasantry after pleasantry, until those "Look at the big snowflakes" turns into bleeped out yelling about visibility issues. Still, despite the fact that my driving in weather is harrowing for me, terrifying for anyone in the car, Lindine kept his wits about him.

When it was finally my turn to play passenger, I finally got to do what I'd been waiting nearly a year to do: check out the famed Pump It Up playlists on the Honey Badger's iPod.

It was exactly as awesome and hilarious as I could have hoped. But what actually blew past my expectations was Lindine himself: crank the tunes and it's like a switch flips. Gone is the quiet guy with the shy smile that I've interviewed many, many times. Instead, there's a seat-rocking, lip-syncing, rapping, partying guy, though the smile doesn't really change. Not only were there the Top 40 pop hits that Durrin had alluded to last year, there was some rap (both of the awesomely good and awesomely cheesy variety), some hard rock (Offspring was heavily featured) and even a country jam or two. There was some requisite indie tune-age as well, but let's face it, when you get the chance to croon along to "Party in the USA" with someone, well, Pixies be damned.

And when we both made the exact same hand gestures during the lines, "Now you wanna run around and talk about guns like I ain't got none / What, you think I sold them all?" as we ineptly rapped along to Forgot About Dre, I knew this was a road trip gone perfectly right.

By the end of the trip, we had accomplished what few friends can really do: we had stayed in a car for over 30 hours in the span of 6 days, lived in adjacent rooms, hung out at the same team tent, ate at the same places and spent nearly every waking minute together, and remained friends.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm in the middle of cooking dinner for some Western Mass. cyclists, including the Honey Badger and wife. Also, Ke$ha just came on and I need to dance around the kitchen.

Visit Cyclocrossnews.com for a profile on Justin Lindine's Redline race bike.

 

Having it All, Again

By: Molly Hurford Jul 31

Share |

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about women and the concept of having it all in sport. And, as usual, it was received with mixed reviews. To be honest? I don't care whether readers agreed with everything I said, or if they loved or hated it. I'm just happy that it got people -- both men and women -- talking. So, because of that and because the lack of women's media coverage in cycling has (somewhat ironically) been brought to attention by the same media guilty of ignoring it, I decided to write a follow up. The first order of business? Women at the top: as promoters.

One of my favorite comments from my article came from MidAtlantic Cyclocross Series promoter Marc Vettori (affectionately known as Fat Marc), who was thrilled to see the article. Marc is part of the 3 person team responsible for Granogue Cyclocross, and takes on the role as the mouth of the MAC. His reasoning for the disparities in women's cycling? It's all about promotion. "I can name the women promoters I've known over the last 20 years on one hand," he wrote to me.

Vettori isn't saying they don't exist, though, and was quick to praise his compatriot in the MAC Series, Laurie Webber. "None of our races, hell, maybe the MAC series, or any race in delaware would happen without her. The MAC board now has two women, and a third as the PR person. It's making the MAC series better, I believe."

This disparity is something that promoter Joan Hanscom of the USGP series and I have talked about before: just look at the ratio of men to women at any UCI promoters meeting. No wonder we have a hard time getting equal pay in races, when the sport is male-dominated through and through. Of course, that isn't to say that men won't argue for women cyclists to have even payouts. But I postulate that if there were more female promoters, equal payout would be more of a non-issue.

"Until there are top women promoters, I don't think women will make huge changes," Vettori says, and I agree with him. "Having women pros just complain about money ends up being a voice in the dark, sadly. Sure, they deserve the same money, but where does it come from? It's tough."

He does have faith for the future of women's cycling. Women in cycling may not be super new, but it is still a growing arm of the sport. And when the older generations start to retire (since for the most part, women's numbers didn't really start growing until the late 80s, the oldest pro racers are just now stepping back), those women can take on bigger roles in shaping the future of women's cycling. Vettori explains, "As current women racers move out of racing and into management and team leadership, and promotion, the women's influence will grow."


Part two: Women's cycling and the media.

While everyone (myself included) wholeheartedly applauded Scott Rosenfield's article on "Why We Ignore Women's Sports" publishing on Outside Magazine's website, I couldn't help but laugh a bit about the irony of the situation. Here, we have a magazine that rarely mentions women's cycling, berating other venues for the lack thereof. The article was awesome in and of itself, and hopefully will lead to a little more attention paid, but I can't help but worry that articles like that allow the magazine publishing them a "free pass." Rather than actually interview women racers about their races, the magazine is allowed to "take a stand" against sexism in the sport, thus garnering some serious props from both male and female cyclists, without having to do the grunt work of covering the races. [Outside Magazine has one cycling column that mainly does gear reviews and some minor coverage, but all of the recent gear reviews have been for men's bikes.] But hey, any coverage is good coverage, so bravo to Outside Magazine: now let's see if they can keep up the good work!

I admit it: I've been guilty of the lacking coverage as well. In my coverage of cyclocross, all too often the women's reports end up shorter. On the bright side, I get complaints about it, which means that readers actually do want more women's content. There are three reasons for the coverage gap though, and I'm about to share some trade secrets here. 1) I'm not always the one writing them, and since I'm not there, it's hard to add in more content. 2) The European races are covered mostly via the live feeds online, and unfortunately, the women are rarely featured, so coverage has to be pieced together from athlete's social media and from non-English news sources, most of which didn't have much to say about the women's races anyway. 3) When I do cover a race and the women's coverage seems to be a bit skimpy (hopefully this doesn't happen often), it's probably because I was racing the Elite race myself and missed getting one of the interviews I wanted. Turns out, writing about women's cycling is harder: back to that chicken-and-egg conundrum I've talked about and Rosenfield talks about in his article. It's hard to find a live feed of a Euro race, making writing the report hard, making it less interesting for readers, making less readers click through to read it, making advertisers skittish about dumping money into women's racing, which is why it doesn't make the live feeds. Talk about a vicious cycle.

That isn't to say that journalists get a free pass or anything like that. It’s just that women's cycling is harder to cover for a multitude of reasons, not just because journalists don't care. That's why programs like Rebecca Rusch's Gold Rusch tour are so incredible for women's cycling: I wrote about it back in May, but Rusch's plan for her tour was to bring female journalists along with her, providing a travel budget and housing, in order to allow for access to some great events to cover. This is unprecedented. Perhaps some promoters could take cues from this singular woman and actually push reporters -- male or female -- to attend and cover the women's races that they host, even if it means having to create some space in the event's budget for travel and housing for reporters. The easier it is to cover, the more reporters will cover it (find me one reporter who wouldn't jump on the free trip bandwagon and give them all of the coverage they ask for!) and the more attention it will gain, meaning the more money and ad dollars the race will eventually see. Sure, it's a bit extreme and a little pay-to-play, but again with the eggs, you can't bake a Feed Zone-approved savory rice cake without cracking a few of them (eggs, I mean.)

The second part of Part Two comes from Rosenfield's discussion of Liz Hatch and her use of her sexuality (the Maxim spread, to be specific) to garner attention for herself. The article, like most I've read on the subject, waffles between her choice to pose being liberating or objectifying. I have the same problem when I think about it, but my issue is that the article goes from being about a lack of women's coverage to a discussion of if sexuality has a place in cycling. Does coverage of a women's cyclocross race have anything to do with if a racer posed in a magazine? Would coverage of the Tour be different if Wiggins had posed seductively in Cosmo? A race is a race is a race, and if the subject at hand is the lack of coverage of women's racing, then why does that even have to come up?

And while it does touch slightly on the concept of tokenism (Mia Hamm is not the only female soccer player, Liz Hatch is not the only female cyclist, nor should either of them be tasked with representing their gender in their sport as a whole), I have to say: I am kind of sick of it. The Hatch example is oft-cited and tired: it was a spread done four years ago, and stands as virtually the only point that comes up when you talk about sexuality in women's cycling. Until there's another, newer example, can we let it go? I understand that women's athletics lead to the discussion of if using sexuality can help to promote the sport (and if it can, should it be, and to whom are we promoting to at that point?), but one big example does not an argument make. What Hatch did wasn't emulated by a bumper crop of U23 female cyclists, it isn't a trend, and is an outlier. Discussing an outlier event when discussing a sport as a whole is patently ridiculous, and every writer (myself included) that has tackled the topic is guilty of this. Guilty, guilty, guilty!

Lastly, I have one nitpick-y issue. Rosenfield berates announcers and writers for their use of "ladies" in their vernacular. Now, I understand the argument against using "girls," and I agree whole-heartedly. But he adds, "Often, a race will be called a “lady’s tour,” or women are said to compete on the “lady’s circuit.” This genteel word packs a punch. Ladies pose no threat to men. Sure, women may be participating in sports, but they are totally feminine. No lesbians or tomboys to worry about." I might be wrong, but I don't think that 'ladies' is necessarily a bad thing. Often, during races, the women will talk to the group and refer to them as 'ladies' (i.e, "Ladies, heads up, car on course!") and I don't think of that as a sexist thing. I wouldn't take umbrage with mentioning the "gentlemen" in a race (see: Rapha's Gentlemen's Ride as my case in point), so why would I mind 'ladies'? When I've interviewed top riders, often they'll refer to their fellow racers as ladies, interchangeably with women. Besides, the dictionary definition of "lady" is either any woman, or "a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken." I'll take it.

What really matters, though, isn't how we are referred to when in print. It's more the lack of print that's the problem. In Outside Magazine, Scott Rosenfield says, "Women's cycling is neglected throughout the year. But every Olympic season, our interest in most women's sports peaks—only to quickly wane." So let's make sure that doesn't happen this year. Those of us racing and those of us writing about cycling should make a commitment: to make sure that we, as athletes, are visible, approachable, and making ourselves heard, and that we, as journalists, make sure to capture every moment of it.

I have to say: it seems like now is the time to start the women's cycling revolution.

All right. Bring on the comments/criticisms/suggestions, but let’s not stop talking about it!

Images: Nick Maggiore

Sources: http://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor-adventure/xx-factor/Why-We-Ignore-Womens-Sports-20120717.html

 

In Defense of the Off-Season

By: Molly Hurford Jul 16

Share |

I have a confession: I like to run. Give me a hard off-road trail with sneakers, or a beach where I can ditch the sneakers all together, and I’m a happy camper. I don’t get the “runner’s high” on the bike, no matter how hard I try, but I get it almost every time I run. I also like to swim. Pool, ocean, exceptionally clear lake: give me a water feature and I will make the most of it. So does that make me a lesser cyclist, or, even worse, a triathlete?

For most racers, spring and summer compose the on-season. But lately, there have been more and more people, myself included, who elect to make cyclocross in the fall their main season. So that makes road and mountain, by default … the off-season? For me, if you compare what happens in the fall to the last few months, I suppose that’s accurate. I race every other weekend, sometimes more, sometimes less, now. In September, it’ll be a balls-to-the-wall weekend-after-weekend jam-packed race season. If you asked me to do that on a road bike or a mountain bike, I might cry. But when you spend time dreaming of the perfect dismount/remount technique, it’s pretty clear where your heart is.

Second part of the confession (while I’m at it): mentally, much more so than physically, I find it nearly impossible to whole-heartedly commit to two serious seasons focusing on specific sport. I’ve tried the road and ‘cross thing, the triathlon and ‘cross thing, and now, the road and mountain biking and ‘cross thing, and so far, the best has easily been this summer. I gave myself permission to not take racing too seriously, to train hard and race hard but take weekends off. I bought a good mountain bike and … learned how to mountain bike. I raced road, I raced mountain, often with very mixed results. I got beat up, crashed out, crashed on, and I just plain crashed. Because I’d given myself permission to not take the season seriously, I wasn’t upset with a lack of major results on the road (some solid, some “mehhh”) and I was thrilled to not totally bomb at mountain biking. But for someone used to spending summers focused on triathlon, it felt like there was still something missing.

Then, last week, I was practicing my cornering skills in the park near my house. I rolled into my normal parking lot, expecting it to be empty, as usual. It was full, and I quickly saw why: the empty pool I had thought was a monument to summers past (who has community pools these days?) was full of crystal clear water and happy looking kids. “Just finish your cornering,” I told myself, sternly, out loud, eliciting a few weird looks. I finished the corners in another parking lot but the pool was first and foremost on my brain. It was actually a physical pang. So I did what anyone would do: raced myself home, ran in tot he house, past my confused housemate, tore into the basement and grabbed a bike lock, bathing suit and goggles, as well as my ‘cross/commuter bike, and rushed back out of the house.

Jumping into that freezing, glassy water was the best feeling in the world. Swimming laps and trying to adjust to the ice-cold temperatures, looking at the way the light was reflecting on the water, seeing the droplets flying up, executing my first flip turn in well over a year, it was magical. Diving low to swim under a pain-in-the-butt 12 year old who thought it would be funny to cannonball right at me, less fun. But when you’re a triathlete and used to starting races in what essentially passes for a washing machine, dealing with irritating pre-teens is nothing. I remembered: I love this.

The next week, I got another wake-up call. I was at the beach and after lying on the beach with full blessing from my coach to relax and recover from my crash at the mountain bike race in Windham a couple of days before, I realized what was missing. “I’m just going to run to the first hotel,” I told my dad. It would be a mile-long run, not exactly much of a trek.

“Sure you are,” he replied sardonically from under his shades.

He was right. A couple of blocks in, I felt it: the rightness that is barefoot beach running, for me. I ran, ran, ran, and found myself 30 blocks down. Still not a super-long run, but 45 minutes instead of the 10 I’d claimed. When I got back, I jumped in the water and paddled around. Dad was out there. “So, how was the first hotel,” he asked.

It seems that despite renouncing triathlon two years ago, my body is still screaming to go back to it. And I know, cyclists hate triathletes, as a whole. But does that mean we’re all bad?

Maybe, I’ve been thinking, it wouldn’t be so bad to be a triathlete in my cyclocross off-season. Not a super serious one or anything, but do a few local races, maybe an X-terra or two. I’ll still race some road, some mountain, and still be a bike racer, but is it so bad to want to swim-bike-run a few times? I can hear a chorus of people I know yelling, “Yes! It is bad!” but if it motivates you to keep training and working hard, can it really be that morally terrible?

There is an argument to be made that a little trail and beach running will get cyclocrossers ready for the inevitable running sections of races. And swimming works core and upper body, which helps with the remounting, dismounting and carrying during a race. Add in the X-terra element, and the mountain biking will only help with technical sections of a race. Of course, that only works if running and swimming are entirely secondary to riding, riding, riding, but nevertheless, I think it’s a reasonable proposal. I wouldn’t expect to be the triathlete that I used to be, where my swim and run were oddly stronger than my bike leg. I’d hope the opposite is true now. That said, I found that when I first started cyclocross, technical incompetence aside, it was a natural fit for a triathlete who wanted to have some fun: I was able to handle running sections (often longer for me, see above ‘technical incompetence’) and picking up and carrying my ludicrously heavy Surly wasn’t too difficult, thanks to the aforementioned upper-body strength I had that a pure cyclist wouldn’t.

To qualify: I am no longer a triathlete, nor would I want to define myself as one, ever again. But is it so wrong to want to get off the bike and into the water every so often?

I think everyone deserves an off-season. Or, in the absence of a real off-season, you, the racer, darn well better be loving every race that you do (or at least, be excited about each race that you do).

 

« Newer Posts | Older Posts »

© Copyright 2013 - Embrocation Cycling, INC