I’m starting a weekly roundup that focuses on the bike trends/people/events/products/brands that stand out to me. Here’s this week’s roundup:
Can We Revisit this Month’s Outside Magazine Cover, Please?
Cycling goddess, Ayesha Mcgowan is putting in the work and racing towards her goal of becoming the first pro African-American female cyclist. In the words of Ayesha, “…if you Google outside magazine covers, you’ll see how phenomenal it is for my melanin to be popping on the cover.” See the cover.
Coalition Snow CEO, Jen, is Riding Over 6,000 km through Africa
This badass lady boss not only started her own snow sports brand (with excellent “shred the patriarchy merch FYI), she also jumped headfirst into this crazy bike adventure and launched a lending program for women who live in rural parts of Kenya so that they can access clean energy sources. Check it out.
Bikepacking Legend Lael Wilcox Picks 3 Scholarship Winners
If you’re anything like me, the applications will make you cry tears of joy/pride. Get to know the winners.
This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
On April 5th, CyclingTips sent out the following email announcing that they’re drastically cutting back on staffing and content for their female-focused sister brand, Ella. Along with the articles not generating enough traffic/engagement, one of the reasons mentioned included:
While many of our male commentators respectfully add to the conversation (and we thank you for that), many others were found ‘mansplaining’ to the author or other readers. Women tell us that they don’t even bother commenting anymore. I might need to moderate one or two comments per year on CyclingTips, but I’ve never had to delete so many sexist comments as I did on Ella articles. I’m bitterly disappointed by that.
Here’s the email in its entirety:
Dear CyclingTips readers,
Most days of the week I absolutely love my job and couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do. But recently I needed to make a difficult decision with my head and not my heart.
Nine times out of 10, when the CyclingTips team does something we all agree is awesome or important, the business side of things takes care of itself. This is what we thought over three years ago when we created Ella. We wanted to tell amazing and inspiring stories about women on bikes, cover the women’s race scene, and bring to life the stories that never got told. There was definitely a gap in the market, but was there a market in the gap? We were keen to explore that
Unfortunately this is one case where the business did not follow, and I’m saddened to say that I’ve been faced with the difficult decision of making the position of Ella Editor redundant. This sadly affects our Editor Anne-Marije Rook, who is not only a passionate and talented storyteller, reporter and cyclist, but a wonderful person in her own right.
Before you start skimming the rest, please note that we are not getting rid of Ella. Nor are we giving up on our audience who are passionate about women’s cycling. Content will still be regular on Ella, just not as regular as it’s been in the past. We still have one Editor on board (Simone Giuliani) and many contributors, but it does signify that we’re not heading in the direction that we want.
Sadly, the media landscape has changed substantially these past three years and the industry has not stepped up to support the women’s side of our business. With the exception of a few brands, it’s all been lip-service. From a commercial perspective, it’s not sustainable to keep pouring money into the content we’re producing on a regular basis for Ella. Please remember, just because content is free to consume, it doesn’t mean it’s free to produce. It’s extremely expensive.
This frustrates me, it angers me, and it disappoints me. The hardest part is that I’m not even sure who to direct these emotions at. Ultimately it’s pure and simple market forces at play. If we had the sheer numbers of readers and the engagement that forced advertisers not to look away, we’d be in a good spot right now.
Many people shout very loudly about how we need to support women’s cycling, however, not enough people read, share, or engage with these articles to make it a viable part of our business. It’s growing, but it’s not enough. In fact, we have hundreds of thousands of passionate Ella readers and that still doesn’t mean anything if we’re unable to pay our bills.
Amongst several other reasons, we created a separate Ella brand and site section so that we could lead with a women’s voice and offer a safe place for women to engage with our authors and each other. But many of our Ella articles have zero comments. Or worse, they were negative. While many of our male commentators respectfully add to the conversation (and we thank you for that), many others were found ‘mansplaining’ to the author or other readers. Women tell us that they don’t even bother commenting anymore. I might need to moderate one or two comments per year on CyclingTips, but I’ve never had to delete so many sexist comments as I did on Ella articles. I’m bitterly disappointed by that.
And so the time has come to pull back and re-evaluate Ella. You’ll still find new tales from the women’s side of the sport on the site, but there won’t be as many. After years of trying and a lot of money invested, we have failed in cracking the code in making a sustainable women’s cycling publication. There are so many problems we came up against that we thought we could solve, but sadly we couldn’t break through.
I’m a believer that a good story is a good story, no matter what gender, race, nationality etc. We will always be on the lookout for these in cycling.
Quality journalism, reporting, and content is in deep trouble these days, and doubly so for paying for women’s cycling reporting. It’s a niche of a niche. I had always heard about the uphill battle that women’s cycling faces, but now I deeply feel for their pain and their constant challenge ahead.
We are committed to telling powerful stories and this is why we need you and your ear to the ground. I encourage you to please reach out to us if you come across a good story that needs to be told, or if you see one elsewhere that you’d like to share. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those of you who supported us, thank you for your past, present and future commitments to giving a voice to women in cycling. We will keep trying in different ways and I hope you continue to join us in our journey.
Wade Wallace :: CyclingTips Founder
What did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!