anna brones

writer + artist + producer

Posts Tagged ‘bicycle

Marianne Martin

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“Achievement is not success if it comes at the cost of goodness.”

-Marianne Martin

In 1984, Marianne Martin secured not only a yellow jersey, but a place in sports and cycling history: the first ever American to win the Tour de France.

But indicative of the gender inequality that still exists in many sports, particularly cycling, you may never have heard of Martin. After all, some of the greatest sporting feats have gone unnoticed simply because they were accomplished by women.

I read about Martin last year in a Peloton article that I came across around the start of the Tour de France. That led to a Guardian article, where I read the following:

“In 1984, one of the Tour de France’s organizers, Felix Levitan, decided to hold the Tour de France Féminin. News of women joining the Tour de France in its 71st year was met with opposition by many in France, according to Christopher Thompson in Tour de France: A Cultural History. The 1983 Tour winner, Laurent Fignon, was blunt in his assessment: ‘I like women, but I prefer to see them doing something else.'”

If that’s irritating, consider the opinion of Jacques Anquetil, the five-time Tour champion, who is quoted as saying: “I have absolutely nothing against women’s sports, but cycling is much too difficult for a woman.” I wonder what Anquetil would have to say about Alexendera Houchin, who just rode the entire Tour Divide on a singlespeed, setting a new record.

Things have changed over the last few decades, and today there is an ongoing growth of women in sports—in part thanks to policy changes—yet women still struggle with many inequities, like pay gaps, making it every more important to highlight some of the changemakers in sports history.

When it comes to one of the most quintessential bicycle races, Bicycling notes, “for the majority of its history, the Tour de France kept women squarely on the sidelines, with the only female roles being played by a loyal wife or fresh-faced girlfriend… Over the years, podium hostesses remain one of the most visible roles for women at the Tour.”  The same went for essentially every big bike race in the early and mid 1900s, although in 1924 Alfonsina Strada managed to fool the organizers into thinking she was a man and rode the Giro d’Italia.

While there was an attempt at a women’s tour in 1955, in 1984 the organizers behind the Tour de France launched the Tour de France Féminin, a notable moment in sports history. A moment of change. The overall race was shorter than the men’s, 18 stages instead of the men’s 23, yet despite the difference in distance, the course followed the men’s, and took the women up all the same climbs, each men’s and women’s stage ending at the same finish line. For their efforts, the men enjoyed ample prize money and an apartment even went to the cyclist claiming first place. The women however, couldn’t even cover their expenses. Martin told Peloton, “I won $1,000 at the Tour and had to share that with my team. I paid for my own flight to New York, to get to Paris. I funded everything myself, bought my own bikes, got into debt to fund my career.”

Many years later, and the Tour de France Féminin is defunct, now replaced by La Course, a daylong race (compared to the men’s 21 days). I was at the inaugural event in 2014 and got to cover it for Bike Portland. I’ll always remember that day, not just because the riding was just as exciting as any men’s race (and it was), but also because of the camaraderie that was displayed during and after the event. The entire thing felt so inherently different than the men’s race, and for me, that’s what made it special. In 2018, a group of women riders took on the entire Tour de France course on their own terms, no podiums, no prize money.

Where does that leave us? The push for equality is essential, but in our interview, Martin notes that for her, equality does not mean “sameness.” That’s a similar sentiment that Sally Jenkins wrote about in regards to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team during the recent World Cup: “The lame idea of sameness is actually a “profoundly conservative goal” for women. Replicating male sports structures with their baked-in disenfranchisement of athletes in favor of “owners,” with their lousy assumptions and values, has never been what the women in the U.S. soccer program were really interested in.”

Whether it’s cycling, soccer or any other sport, we need to value women for their contributions, and continue to promote a culture in which women and girls are encouraged to pursue any athletic goal, and provide them the means to do so.

Thank you so much to Martin for saying yes to doing an interview for the Women’s Wisdom Project, it is an honor to feature her.

What does wisdom mean to you?

To me wisdom is the deep knowledge of how things really are, and the ability to see the good in it.

Is there an influential woman in your life who passed along a piece of wisdom to you?

My mom was a really good, good, person. She was mentally ill and that would come and go and made her life very, very challenging for her….but despite all of her challenges, she remained a deeply good, loving person.

When did you start cycling and at what point did you start racing?

I started cycling to race. I was in my early 20s, and I saw the Red Zinger, and a local race that my sister did, and I said “I want to do that!” I always loved sport but have no eye to hand coordination and most sports were ball sports. Bike racing was fast, colorful, and seemed so do-able to me. I loved the excitement of it all. I did ride a bike in elementary school quite a bit to get places—that I wasn’t supposed to go!!

How did riding a bicycle and racing make you feel?

More than powerful, the bicycle made me feel empowered. Even today, without sport or physical activity I feel my soul is less empowered—I cannot be happy and whole without fitness.

Laurent Fignon, who won the Tour the same year you did, is infamously known for saying, “I like women, but I prefer to see them doing something else.” How do you think our culture around women’s sports has changed since then, and in what ways do you feel that we still have work to do?

I think some men (falsely) feel more powerful than women so that helps them feel strong and needed, and therefore powerful. When they are around women who are strongly independent—in sports or career—they feel less so. It is so deeply engrained in some cultures it will take decades to shift… if ever. I meet so many men who feel they are enlightened and above that, but have no idea how deeply they still believe it.

I believe there are differences and men and women can’t always be equals in sport…. I mean we aren’t. The Tour is a great example: the men’s race has a huge history, it is even a tradition. To bring women in to that same tour is unrealistic and wrong. Society these days says women and men need to be equal. Equality, yes, but not the same. Having a men’s race that has been going on for 100 years does not mean that all of a sudden we have to have the same for women. I think it is great to bring women into it and I would LOVE nothing more than to have the women’s tour the way it was when I did it, because then they would grow their own following and create and prove their worth. But to demand it is not the way to go, and to be the same is not the way to go. Women are women and I think we need to embrace that and bring a different element and grace to sport.

What lessons would you say you learned from racing and winning the Tour in 1984? And to add on that, what lessons from cycling do you feel that you have taken on into the rest of your life?

1. That we are capable of way more than we ever believe.

2. That our beliefs are a huge part of what is holding us back.

3. That some people only want to know us because of something we’ve done, not who we are. I won the Tour but that is not who I am. I am (or at least I strive to be) a kind, funny, thoughtful, loving person. Winning the Tour is only something that I did. It might say something about me—my drive, my abilities—but not who I am. For example I really respect Lance Armstrong’s athletic abilities; drugs or no drugs, he is an amazing athlete. But I don’t respect how he treated others and handled himself—he showed himself to not be a good person. When I meet someone and they are aloof… then they find out I won the Tour and then they are friendly, I don’t like that. I lose respect for that person when they only want to get to know me because of something that I accomplished.

From your perspective, what do girls gain from participating in sports?

Empowerment, self confidence, inner strength, maturity.

What wisdom would you share with your younger self?

Even the best of the best have self doubts so just acknowledge that you have them, they have them, and we are all equal. What someone has done does not make them a good person. Kindness, thoughtfulness, honesty, generosity, friendliness: those are the qualities that make a good person. Achievement, in sports or work does not make you a good person, and to me, achievement is not success if it comes at the cost of goodness. Above all be a good person.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

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Written by Anna Brones

July 12, 2019 at 06:51

Annie Londonberry

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“I am a journalist and ‘a new woman’ if that term means that I believe I can do anything that any man can do.” – Annie Londonberry

I learned of Annie Londonberry several years ago in Peter Zheutlin’s book Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonberry’s Extraordinary Ride.

Born in 1870 in Latvia, Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky was the first woman to cycle around the world. Despite never having ridden a bicycle before, in 1894 she set off on an adventurous journey, promising to circle the globe in 15 months (with the help of a few trains and boats too).

She pedaled off with a change of clothes and a revolver, and in exchange for $100, promised to place a placard for the Londonberry Lithia Water Company on her bicycle. Today, sponsorship might be the norm for many grand adventures, but at the time, it certainly challenged the era’s gender norms.

The 1890s were a time when the bicycle was intricately linked to feminism, and as Annie set out she became a symbol of the movement. Annie was a savvy storyteller and promoter, telling tales wherever she went, some true and some not-so-true. Eventually, she completed her journey, calling it “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman.”

After her return, she wrote a column for New York World, with the byline “The New Woman.”

What was a “new woman” in the late 1800s might be seen as a modern woman today, and yet, we still struggle with some of the obstacles Annie faced over 100 years ago. Annie left three children behind to take off on her journey; today female athletes and adventurers are often questioned about their mothering skills, and can experience severe gender bias. Women suffer from a pay gap, both in sponsorship and professional sports salaries. In some countries it’s still considered improper for a woman to ride a bicycle.

Annie is reminder that society doesn’t get to dictate who we are or what we do. We can set our own goals and our own definitions of success. We can be who we want to be.

This papercut is a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a yearlong project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

 

Written by Anna Brones

April 17, 2018 at 12:11

Book Special: Signed Copy of ‘Hello, Bicycle’ + Limited Edition Stainless Steel Pint!

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Hello, Bicycle + Limited Edition Stainless Steel Pint Glass

In honor of the release of my new book Hello, Bicycle, I had a few limited edition stainless steel Klean Kanteen pint glasses made up in celebration (the graphic is actually a papercut that I made). Why pint glasses? Because book releases deserves some cheers-ing, and if you’re celebrating a bike book, then you want to be cheers-ing outside. Practically unbreakable pint glasses help to facilitate that.

Oh, did I hear you say that you want one too? Well lucky you, I’m pairing up a copy of the book and a pint glass for a super sweet summer bike deal. You can snag the two for $25.

Hello, Bicycle Limited Edition Stainless Steel Pint Glass

Why do you need this pint glass in your life?

Stainless steel pint glasses are perfect for summer bike picnics! Toss them in your backpack or pannier, and don’t worry for a second if they’re going to break. They’re also good for ensuring that you don’t use any single-use disposable cups from here on out. A win all around.

Why do you need a copy of Hello, Bicycle?

  • It’s a signed copy
  • You’re supporting an author
  • You’ll get some good recipes for tasty bike snacks (HELLO peanut butter bars)
  • You’ll feel really good about yourself
  • You’ll want to get on a bicycle immediately
  • You’ll turn into a superhero

$25 gets you a signed copy of the book and a limited edition pint glass+ shipping and handling depending on where you live. When you click on the link below, you’ll be taken over to Paypal to complete the payment. Thank you for supporting!

Buy Hello, Bicycle + Limited Edition Stainless Steel Pint now.

Written by Anna Brones

June 15, 2016 at 12:31

Posted in Bike Love

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Preorder My New Book: Hello, Bicycle

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I am on the less-than-a-month countdown until my new book Hello, Bicycle comes out. Starting to get the pre-book birthday jitters.

As you might gather from the title, the book is all about bicycles. It’s illustrated by the talented James Gulliver Hancock and is a guide to embracing the two-wheeled lifestyle. How to change a flat tire? That’s in there. What you should look for when you are buying your first bicycle? That’s in there too. How to plan a bike trip? That’s in there as well. Recipes for bike snacks? Oh yes.

The book is officially out June 7, 2016, but you can preorder a copy now now and ensure that the book arrives at your doorstep at the beginning of June. That way you know you will be set for all of your summer cycling adventures.

I am working on planning a pedal-powered bike tour for later this summer – more on that later – but if anyone has any recommendations of great bookstores and/or bike shops on the West Coast that would be good for an event, please tell me!

Now, get off your computer and go get on a bicycle (after you order the book that is).

Preorder Hello, Bicycle now.

Written by Anna Brones

May 12, 2016 at 10:34

Posted in Bike Love, Portfolio

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The Culinary Cyclist on the Outspoken Cyclist Podcast

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I was happy to chat with Diane Lees of The Outspoken Cyclist recently about The Culinary Cyclist. The show is deemed “radio for cyclists by cyclists.” And here I bet you didn’t even know that cyclist radio was a thing? Well now you do.

Check out The Outspoken Cyclist podcast and catch my episode here. Don’t worry, you won’t just be bored by my ramblings on healthy eating; I’m also on there with frame builder, bike designer and author Lennard Zinn, which is pretty cool.

Written by Anna Brones

August 25, 2015 at 09:59

Preorder the Second Edition of The Culinary Cyclist

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Two years ago, my first book, The Culinary Cyclistwas released. When I first started writing it, I wasn’t really sure if anyone would be interested in the topic of bikes and food. Turns out they were. So much so that the book is coming out in a brand spanking new edition, with all the recipes updated in both volume and weight measurements (that means it’s user-friendly for anyone measuring in cups, ounces or grams), and a few tweaks here and there, as well as a new cover.

It’s my first book, so maybe it will always be my favorite. Even now I keep a copy in the kitchen and reference it regularly. Sometimes I’ll flip through and read a few passages. They still make me happy. And they make me want to get out on my bicycle.

“The rules for living well, if you can call them that, are simple and a pleasure to follow. Eat local and mostly plants. Ride your bike, even on rainy days. Say yes to dinner invitations. Always bring your signature dessert. Invite people on picnics. Bike in the sunshine. Follow a morning ride with a strong French press.” -The Culinary Cyclist

The new edition will be released on September 15, 2015, and you can preorder your copy here. All the recipes are gluten-free and vegetarian, and there’s a whole lot of vegan stuff in there too. In other words: lots of healthy, real food.

Of course, if you want the original, they’re currently 40% off over on Microcosm Publishing, the lovely independent publishing company that is behind the book (while you’re on the site, check out their other titles too). A fantastic deal for the original print of a cookbook, wouldn’t you say?

Written by Anna Brones

August 14, 2015 at 08:12

Happy Birthday ‘The Culinary Cyclist’

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The Culinary Cyclist by Anna Brones

It was about a year ago that my first book The Culinary Cyclist came out.

It’s crazy to think that a year has gone by. In fact it’s amazing to think back to when I was writing the book. I remember when the outline first came together, sitting in a cafe in Portland on a work date with a good friend. I had a blank sketchbook with me, which I like to use to write sometimes because the pages are big and blank and I can sketch little drawings as I go along.

I sat and stared at that blank page for a long time, then went to work on something else as I couldn’t get the ideas into place. But then eventually they spilled out onto the paper, and quickly. I scribbled quickly in order to keep up with the pace of my thoughts.

The book unfolded in a way that made me think that maybe I’d always had The Culinary Cyclist in me, that it was just a matter of putting a name and an official project to it in order for it to come out.

Maybe that’s how books are sometimes. The Culinary Cyclist is no work of great literature – it’s a cookbook after all. But the experience has left me with the desire to write more, be it a short story or thoughts on food.

So, happy birthday dear little book, I hope you celebrate with lots of coffee and peanut butter cookies.

Written by Anna Brones

August 29, 2014 at 11:29