After a festive break we return with a bigger and better Women’s Wednesday. This year we hope to get more women on bikes, to show that mountain biking is a sport that is hugely rewarding, and so much fun. There was a vast change in 2013 for women in cycling; Women’s Cycling, Total Women’s Cycling and Women’s Wednesday were launched. This gave ladies in the sport more coverage than ever before, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. And one woman who is outspoken, and keen to get more ladies out on their bikes is, Juliet Elliott. Juliet is editor of Coven Magazine, sponsored cyclist for Charge Bikes, former pro snowboarder and model. We chat to her about bikes, her adventures and how she ended up where she is today.
1. Who are you?
My name is Juliet Elliott. I ride for Charge Bikes, Vans and Met, I’m Editor of women’s action, art and adventure magazine, COVEN and I’m a freelance journalist and PR.
2. Tell us about you and bikes, when did it all start?
When I was living in London, I cycled everywhere; it’s just the most practical way to get around, but it wasn’t until I became interested in riding fixed gear that I really fell in love with bikes. Before that it was just a means to an end.
I built a fixed gear bike up from scavenged bits and pieces, using the internet and forums to learn what I needed and how to install stuff, the challenge being simply to make the cheapest bike that I could. I’d only ever ridden a fixed gear for about ten metres beforehand but fixed gears are so simple, and if you’re clever and not fussy they can be cheap.
To cut a long story short, I absolutely loved riding that bike and it opened my eyes to another world. I’m the kind of person that becomes totally obsessed with things and bikes turned out to be my greatest obsession. After the fixed gear I got a BMX, a road bike, mountain bikes, a cyclocross bike, tourers, everything!
3. In your opinion, do you think more women are getting into action sports, and if so, what’s the catalyst?
The internet has really helped by connecting like-minded women which helps to build communities and grow the industry.
And I do see more women getting into action sports, but there’s still an enormous way to go. Before the global financial crisis, more brands were investing in women’s specific products, teams and events, but when everything went tits up, these were always the first to be dropped. We seeing the fruit of those investments, certainly in women’s skateboarding which has grown a great deal in the last decade, but we’d have got a lot further if the investment had continued.
Girls need to see other women participating in sport in order for them to feel that it could be for them too. Kids are very impressionable, so if they don’t have positive role models, or worse yet, get wind of the sexist attitudes that still prevail, what hope is there of women ever matching the men’s level of participation?
It’s a slow process, changing the attitude that these activities aren’t for women. It’s been drummed into us for so long that we’re the weaker sex. I dream of the day where it would be totally, 100% normal for girls to ride skateparks, where no one bats an eyelid.
4. As the editor of Coven, what have been your biggest highs and lows so far?
The response we get from other women is fantastic, people love what we’re doing! I guess the thing I really don’t like is people who bullshit us – I get that not everyone has money in their budget for ads/investment, but just say so in a normal, non dickish way, don’t drag out the process leading us on!
5. Coming from a snowboarding, modelling, rock background, could you ever have imagined yourself where you are now?
Hmm, well I’ve never really had a ‘game plan,’ and I still don’t. I feel like I’ll spend my whole life just floating along, just going with it; I’ve given up trying to analyse what I should and shouldn’t be doing, where I should be, what’s right. My life has always been quite ‘fluid,’ so I’m not really surprised by anything.
6. What do you think needs to be done to help the evolution and growth of women in action sports?
I guess I answered this earlier, but in essence, women need to feel that every option is available to them, every sport, every job, can be for them. We need more coverage, we need more role models.
We also need encouragement and a slightly different approach. It’s all very well saying ‘well we put on women’s events and no one comes,’ I understand that can be frustrating, but it’s no wonder women find it hard to put themselves out there and get involved; we get stared at, pulled apart and discussed. No one bats an eyelid when a boy turns up. Until it’s not like that, we’ll always struggle, so I think we need more creative, gender specific approaches to getting women into sport.
7. If you could pick just one – favourite bike discipline and why?
Oh Christ, it kind of depends on where I am, the weather, all sorts of things really. That’s such an impossible question to answer!
8. Describe your perfect biking adventure?
I really like camping out, so I’d probably plan an awesome route up in the mountains. We end up near a lake which would have loads of jumps to ride, so we’d session those and swim in the lake before lighting a campfire and cracking out the beers. Perfect!
[quote align=”right”]I dream of the day where it would be totally, 100% normal for girls to ride skateparks, where no one bats an eyelid.[/quote]
9. What changes, if any would you like to see within the bike industry in the next few years?
I’d like to see greater investment in women’s teams. It may not be immediate, but brands will definitely see a return on their investment – we’re half the population!
10. Coming from a modelling background, did the transition to riding receive any preconceptions from both the bike and modelling world?
When I was modelling I was a pro-snowboarder so people were used to my antics! I don’t think it made any difference really; I was very happy to move into something that was not about what you look like, but about what you can do.
11. What do you have planned for 2014?
2014 is going to be amazing, I’ve heaps planned!
I’ve got a snowboarding and snowmobile trip in January and hopefully I’ll go to ‘Fixed Days’ in Berlin in March.
I’m going cycle touring in Japan in May, downhilling in the Alps for my honeymoon, doing my track cycling accreditation, training with British Cycling as a coach, all sorts of stuff, I can’t wait. Oh, and I’m getting hitched!
To find out more about Juliet and Coven, you can check out the links below:
Rachel Atheron wins – Female Gravity Racer of the Year in the Pinkbike Athlete awards 2013.
The Filthy Foxes Dirty weekend will return for it’s second year from 30 May – June 2014 set in the world famous, Newnham Park.. It aims to provide a weekend of mountain biking, trail running and outdoor fitness activities for women.
Included in your weekend ticket:
2 nights camping (with showers), Mountain bike skills tuition, Outdoor circuits, Bike mechanics tuition, Yoga, Navigation tuition, Trail running event, Trail running tuition, Mountain bike challenge event, Led road rides, Mountain bike skills competitions, Demo bikes, Goody bag and memento!
This women only cycling and outdoor fitness event includes coaching activities, camping, fun events and races, all for £55. For more information or to enter, check out the website.
If you have a women’s cycling/MTB coming up soon, and would like to advertise, please get in touch: Lauren@wideopenmag.co.uk
First up we have a video of, Katy Curd, Manon Carpenter, Jess Greaves and Joey Gough. These girls rock, and if this video doesn’t get you stoked, I don’t know what will!
Another of the Rad, Miss Curd – Shredding in the woods, showing us her return to downhill in 2014 is going to be interesting, watch this space! If you missed it, we did an interview with her a few weeks back.
Thanks for reading! If you’ve got any womens related news or information let me know, and if you think a friend of yours could benefit from reading this please give it a share!
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