The Paceline Podcast #53

The Paceline Podcast #53

This week we take on one of cycling’s thorniest issues: women. Why is it that a sport so loved by women is served by an industry so bad at understanding and serving women? We’re going to dig in. Elden is away this week and in order to keep the mansplaining to a minimum we’ve asked our friend Diane Lees of the Outspoken Cyclist to join us.

One small warning: This episode runs long (1:41, yeow!). This is a one-time thing, but we felt this was something important enough to be justifiable.

As it turns out, once we began digging into the issue and making a list of everyone we wanted to talk to, it became apparent that this is likely to be something of a series we return to periodically. There are just too many bright people making a difference for us to fit them all in a single episode.

First up, we talk to Bill Strickland, editor in chief of Bicycling Magazine. It’s been under Bill’s guidance that Bicycling began hiring a number of women in a gradual overhaul of its staff. Padraig talks with him about the why, the how and most especially the results of that effort.

Our next interview is with pro downhiller Amanda Batty who has been an especially sharp—and insightful—commentator on how women are treated in cycling. Amanda caused quite a stir a couple of years ago when she accused one of the editors of Pinkbike (of which she was a contributor at the time) of writing a review that fostered rape culture. We agreed with her and Padraig wrote this piece in support of her. She has continued to offer an enlightened perspective on women and equality—not just for women, but for everyone. We knew we couldn’t do this episode without her voice.

In our final interview for this episode Padraig interviewed Christine Culver (pictured above, right), former executive director for the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. She currently sits on the board for the SCBC as well as the board for REMBA, the Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance. He was interested to hear her perspective on how being a woman has informed her work in advocacy.

We are just going to warn you now that this episode runs long, much longer than usual. And because we didn’t get to half the interviews we want to do on this topic (how do you run out of women to listen to?), this will become a recurring series with new interviews informing and shaping our perspective on a regular basis.

The Paceline is supported by: Health IQ. The people at Health IQ believe in cyclists and believe that healthy people should be rewarded with lower life insurance rates. Check them out here.

The Paceline is supported by Eliel Cycling. Crafted in California, the Eliel brand combines the latest technology with cycling tradition to deliver an experience that is authentically California. View their retail gear and custom program at




Bicycling Magazine

Amanda Batty

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition

The Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance

Skratch Labs

Elly Blue: Taking the Lane

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  1. Pingback: The Outspoken Cyclist – February 4, 2017 « WJCU

  2. Peter Schueth

    I’m a dedicated listener of cycling podcasts, and recently started listening to yours. I’ve enjoyed the information and lively banter greatly, until this one.

    My issue is you mentioned – and, in fact, effectively apologized for – being a white guy multiple times…I think I lost count at 12. Oh my gosh…I get the point, I really do…but you are not guilty of a sin because you are a white guy discussing important issues regarding gender, race or any other minority issue of which you have no direct experience. Your purpose was to discuss, highlight and draw out the experiences of others who do have direct experience as the minority in question. You admirably let them speak for themselves, and they did great. The PC culture has made even cycling podcasts reluctant to discuss important issues without the requisite apology. As a society, this has gone absolutely too far.

    Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive (as I’m a white guy too), but mentioning it the number of times you did effectively took away from the importance of the issues being discussed. I urge you to focus more time and episodes on women – and other minorities – in cycling. Their stories and experiences are fascinating, and deserve to be told. Prize money should be equal. Opportunities should be equal. Lots of effort should be expended at the grass roots level to get folks of all ages, races, gender, etc. out on bikes. If successful, society would be so much better off, I believe.

    I am biased about one thing for which I plead guilty…I enjoy watching women’s cycling more than the men. The cross season has been fascinating, Chloe Dygert Owen is now my favorite cyclist ( I watched her play basketball when she was in high school) and I think all women’s races should be broadcast. Am I a dreamer? Certainly, but proudly.

    1. Author

      I can respect that some people might conclude I was apologizing for being who I am. My purpose was to state my clarity on my position with respect to the subject at hand. I like who I am; I like my life, but as a white male born in the United States I’ve been gifted enormous privilege and I believe have a duty to acknowledge that to listeners. Also, based on my previous experiences in sticking up for other people, there are those who will always be suspicious of both me and my motives. In short, those disclaimers weren’t for you and I hope you can forgive me for addressing those people in our audience who might have had concerns about the legitimacy of my voice on this topic.

  3. Jeff Dieffenbach

    Important topic, glad you tackled it. I agree with Peter–important to note once (maybe even twice) the “white guy caveat,” but more than that (mildly) hurt rather than helped.

    There was a bit too much stereotyping for my taste. Are women inherently more diplomatic than men? I don’t know–is there evidence to back that up? I consider myself to be much more diplomatic than confrontational. I get that I’m just one example–I’ll trot out the old saw that “evidence is not the plural of anecdote.”

    I love how Diane Lees put it: “Women want what men want.” Cycling companies would do well to offer ranges of products that meet the size, style, and discipline demands of the entire customer base, not just the part with the Y chromosome.

    I also enjoyed Bill Strickland’s take on casting a wider net for talent. It takes more effort, but it yields better results.

    It would be great to hear more about how the industry might broaden its reach and knock down barriers to entry.

  4. Katie Massen

    I love listening to this podcast! Thank you for having the women speak on this podcast. I listened to another podcast which also discussed women and cycling. The three presenters were men and their efforts to discuss the matter fell flat and felt disingenuous. This podcast was a breath of fresh air as many topics were covered that are a barrier to entry for many women. Please do more of these episodes and talk with other amazing women.

    1. Author

      Thanks Katie. This is a challenging issue to broach and one on which I really wanted to be respectful. We’ve got other interviews in the works; I can assure you this won’t be our only occasion to address this. I plan to make this a recurring theme.

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