10 Mar Loren Rowney’s Interview Part III – Women’s Cycling Advocacy and Social Awareness
You have just become a StrongHer Ambassador. StrongHer started as an initiative driven by Marianne Vos in order to create a community that gives women the stage to make a difference. Could you explain us what activities and events does it include and which of those are you involved in?
Basically connecting women from all walks of life through the bike. It’s a fantastic way to meet new people, network, and feel good about yourself. The bike is empowering, and even in this modern day society where women are “equal” to men, it’s really not always the case, so that’s why we have initiatives like StrongHer to build confidence and strength in women…or rather just unlock it. Because everyone has the strength within.
You have recently become an ambassador of a cyclocross event at the Gold Coast Cycling Centre that will be held in November 2016. The event is a fundraiser for local organisation, Livin, who aims to raise awareness about mental health in the community through spreading their mantra “It Ain’t weak to speak”. Tell us how are you getting involved in it and what is the vision of this organisation and what activities do they carry out?
So the fundraiser I am planning to run in November is targeted at raising funds for a local organisation, Livin, that spreads their mantra “It ain’t weak to speak” through 24 hour events, talks and other community activities. A friend told me about them, and after some research, I decided this is who I want to help out. I’ve said before that athletes have this incredible network, ability to inspire and speak out. It’s a privilege to be in the position we are in. So that’s exactly what I want to do. Spread the word that it’s ok to talk about your issues. If you don’t talk about it, it will eventually consume you. I know this from experience. So the event is going to be called “Talk it up“, a 6hr teams CX race on the Gold Coast, raising funds and awareness for Livin.
Taking into consideration your reaction a few years ago, turning the tables on Peter Sagan’s podium bottom-pinching action it is must for us to ask you about Bira’s poster controversy. The poster in question features a short of last year’s race winner Katarzyna Niewiadoma aiming a kiss at the camera, and it has been pulled after it was deemed to be sexist. What is your opinion about it?
Any publicity is good publicity right? To be honest I haven’t seen anything about it. I think she’s an awesome role model for Polish girls, and girls around the world. If you follow her on Instagram you would realise that’s just Katarzyna being herself, so I don’t see the problem. People need to lighten up, and if that poster draws more fans out to watch the race, what really is the problem?
What advice would you like to give to young ladies who are planning on taking cycling to the professional level?
Cycling is a beautiful sport in so many ways, but it is by no means glamourous. If you truly want to pursue this as your dream, make sure you have something else to back you up. The honest truth is there isn’t a lot of money in the sport, it is bloody hard, living abroad can be tough, sometimes you’ll want to cry and break down…but honestly, it is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. And the stories you will be able to tell one day, and the memories you’ll have is priceless. Just make sure financial stress doesn’t get in the way of you living your dream.
Having practiced several sports during your childhood and teenage years, do you consider switching to duathlon or triathlon ever, as Emma Pooley has successfully done after retiring from cycling?
I mean I’ve entertained the idea of doing an IronMan at some point. Triathlon is so much fun too as a recreational sport… we’ll see, who knows where I’ll end up! I will most definitely own a mountain bike, that much I know.
When did you started living abroad? Did it all come as a result of turning professional? Or did it come in result of your dream pursuit of becoming a professional cyclist?
I moved oversea because I signed a professional contract with Specialized Lululemon, and all the pro racing is USA or European based.
Over the past decade Girona has become a world-leading training town for elite cyclists. ‘The Armstrong loop’ and the ‘Hincape climb’ are a few examples of routes and segments named after great cyclists who have lived and trained in the Girona surroundings. Bike Breaks, La Fabrica are a few examples of business who have emerged throughout those years in order to attend pro cyclist needs, facilitating their stay during the large periods of training.
What are your favourite sights, routes, activities to do, places to hang out in Girona? Tell us what does it look like a typical day for you in Girona.
I love Girona. A typical day…I think I actually wrote a whole blog on this! It starts with light yoga, reading emails, eating my breakfast, and then meeting some friends at La Fabrica for a coffee and then a ride. We typically roll out at 11am from the stone bridge in the middle of the old town. The standard meeting spot. Then we’ll go anywhere from 3-5 hours. On a perfect day, my roomie and best friend Carlee and I would do “coast loop”, which is out to Tossa De Mar, along to Platja D’aro, then cut back inland through Monells to Girona. It’s about 4.5hrs, or 4hrs if you’re hooking!
We have seen thought this past years that you are a great blogger. Taking into consideration you are living in Girona during the European season, when are going to surprise us by writing an article/column in Spanish or Catalan?
Hahaha. I might be a good blogger, but learning the language has been a real struggle. I feel guilty, but we live in this English speaking bubble that doesn’t push the majority of us out of our comfort zone. That can be another goal for me this year!
We have read you are an animal lover and thus you were studying Bachelor of Science, majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology. How is it going? How many units of study or semesters do you have left? What sort of career do you see yourself pursuing when you would retire from cycling?
My degree is actually on hold unfortunately. I have one semester left, however it is all laboratory and field based work, so my hands are a bit tied. I’m actually considering a whole new degree in journalism…we’ll see what happens there. So I love to write, I love to help people, and I want to protect the environment. To tie all these things in to one, my dream would be to own a mountain biking/yoga retreat in South America where all profits go to the community and local conservation/permaculture.
- What’s your favourite bike race? Strade Bianche.
- What has been your biggest achievement in your cycling career? Winning a stage of La Route de France
- What’s your greatest ambition in the sport? What’s on your personal bucket list? To win the World Champs and Flanders.
- What’s your favourite climb? St Hilari outside of Girona.
- Favourite teammate to have as a roommate during a stage race or training camp. Ohhhhh tough one. I love them all 😉
- Favourite Stubby: Coopers, Carlton, Tooheys, Victoria, another? None! Give me cider any day.
- Gold Coast nightlife or Girona’s? Mmmm Gold Coast.
- Favourite performance meal. Pre meal- my secret, special breakfast mix, post- burger and sweet potato fries.
- Your best attack/sprint I have quite a punch, but my kick is most useful over a distance. I’m not super fast like Bronzini or Wild, so I would have to go long and hope they don’t come over me. Great training efforts for this is 20/10s or 20/30s.
- Biggest cycling/sport admiration. Chrissie Wellington
That is the end of Loren Rowney’s interview, we hope you have enjoyed it.
Pictures: Loren Rowney