Juliet Elliott is part of the fabric of the women's cycling world. She's a sponsored cyclist, former pro snowboarder and model, as well as boasting a dark past playing the guitar and singing backing vocals and playing guitar in bands. These days she frequently vies for awards for her blogging. She's the Founder and Editor of women’s action, art and adventure magazine, Coven Magazine, she contributes to national and international publications, makes regular appearances on the telly and is an outspoken advocate for women in sport.
In her first guest blog for us Juliet interviewed Marit Huisman - a remarkable woman launching a new women’s cycling hub shortly, backed by an impressive range of ambassadors:
'As a woman in the cycling industry, I’m forever faced with questions about why there are fewer women involved in the sport, why women don’t get paid as much and why women don’t race. And I’m often asked what needs to be done to get more girls and women on bikes, either for leisure, for sport or as a viable career option.
One of the things I’ve come to realise over my years as an outnumbered female athlete, first as a snowboarder and skateboarder and latterly as a cyclist, is that something like that doesn’t just happen organically. Women themselves need to actively make changes that will see the sport grow for themselves and for others. We need to stick our necks out and get involved, whether that’s by inviting a new cyclist out on a ride, or entering a women’s race in order to show there’s a demand for them.
One woman who is working hard to establish a community of female cyclists who can help promote the benefits of cycling is Marit Huisman, who is launching a brand new women’s cycling hub this summer with the help of a diverse range of ambassadors.
Her biggest aim is to get more women on bikes and to develop the sport further, something she has been doing for the last year under the banner ‘TakethestageCC.’ With an array of exciting events on the horizon, including a festival in Rotterdamn, I chatted to her to find out more about her plans.
How long have you been working on your new women’s cycling initiative and when can we expect the launch?
We have been working on it for a year now and we should be launching in May or June. First, we started with some events around Marianne, then we started creating some channels like ‘Takethestagecc’ to create a buzz and so we could use all the content to let people that there is something going to happen. As soon as we launch, Takethestagecc will change it’s name.
When we launch, we will ask everybody around the world to help us to get more women on bikes. We have many ambassadors from grassroots to professionals and they will spread the world. It is a community for women through women. We will launch a new app and during the World Championships we will have a new concept for bike stores as well. We want to create something cool that every girl likes (so that they) are inspired to get on a bike.
What are the main aims behind the initiative, and why do you feel this is needed?
What started as an initiative driven by Marianne Vos and her management Zeloo has grown to a rapidly growing group of 300 ambassadors.
It’s led by professional cyclists and supported by a diverse and experienced network of ambassadors who want to connect theprofessional and grassroots worlds, letting them learn from and inspire each other. The idea is to unify all the various global women’s cycling initiatives under a shared and common goal and create a community that gives women the stage to make a difference! It will be one of the most unique and important initiatives in the history of the sport. A shared goal to get more women on the bike and into the world of cycling!
Our biggest aim is to get more women on bikes and to develop the sport further. By connecting the grassroots initiatives with the professional levels we reinforce the synergy between the two. They are both reliant on each other to succeed. A successful professional women’s cycling world needs a thriving and vibrant grassroots scheme! We want to increase the exposure of all the professional athletes and reveal the people and characters of the sport. Part of the success will be reliant on making it more commercially attractive and bringing on board sponsors, companies, coverage and fans!
What were your criteria for selecting ambassadors?
Ambassadors need to be very much involved with women’s cycling already, they need to be cool, appealing, have a great story and be enthusiastic about the initiative. Every woman can take part!
What can women do to get involved?
Women can tell their stories - not only the pros but also everyone! It is important to show that cycling can be done by every girl and by telling the stories of the girls we want to show this.
What is the festival We Own Yellow?
We Own Yellow is an initiative of ours around the Tour De France. There are many things for men but nothing for women. We want to celebrate and ride with all the girls around the world for one day and that is why We Own Yellow was created. We called it We Own Yellow to make a statement that a Tour De France or something similar can also be done by women. As well as that, we want to bring women around the world together, to let them be inspired by each other’s stories.
What other initiatives can we expect to see around the world?
We will soon launch #roadtripusa and an initiative for bike shops. We will also launch more unique rides like ‘Date At Speed,’ ‘Full Moon Ride’ and we are organising rides and courses all around the world through our ambassadors.
What do you think is stopping women from cycling, and have you seen any changes over the last few years?
Women are scared and don't know what to buy, where to cycle, what to cycle or with whom to cycle. Some women ride with men but some women find that very intimidating. Every woman can ride a bike. You need to believe in yourself.
How long do you think it will be before the women’s pro peloton is as big as the men’s?
Women cycling the top of the sport has developed every year, but we need to develop it further and by getting more women on the bike this is possible. We need to take many more steps but with initiatives like Takethestagecc, sites such as this and Total Women’s Cycling, Breeze, Ella Cycling tips and La Course, we are making progress to create a stage for every woman!'
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