Letters to the Future of Women’s Cycling
A bicycle is a gateway to a boundless world. A ticket to freedom, independence, and confidence; a bicycle can take a rider to towering heights, and guide them through the lows of life. A bicycle is a vehicle for change and a mode for empowerment.
In this spirit of progress, we asked that our riders, ambassadors and employees pen letters to their future selves, or future daughters. Together, they shared their hopes and aspirations for women in the sport of cycling. From a young girl’s first ride from their parent’s doorstep, to racers turned mentors, and a shop in Florida on its second generation of female owners, these are their stories, this is our future. Together, we can build the Futurestate.
My Beloved ME 😉,
How could I ever imagine you would still be riding bikes after all these years? For that, I am truly proud!
During all my life, when people see me at events or family gatherings, they love to ask the ironic question:
“OMG, and you Bia, still riding bikes, eh?”
This behavior bothered me for ages. What is this question supposed to mean? That I'm still a child? That I'm a woman and therefore, I should be doing something else by a certain age, like being at home with babies, watching Netflix or cleaning the backyard?
I am sure that nowadays, you can confidently say that this is water under the bridge. First of all, because women on bikes are awesome, shredding is awesome. And if some people think anything other than that, they are the ones needing to change some concepts in their own life.
Riding bikes brought me to the most beautiful places on Earth, made me meet incredible people, great friends that I will carry inside my heart and remember for the rest of my life.
Biking is not only about fitness and concentration. It is about freedom. That first feeling you have when you're a small child, of riding your little bike away from your parents, hiding behind bushes, taking that first downhill adventure at your home street.
“Am I still riding bikes?” Oh yes for sure, still fostering that freedom feeling inside my soul, never sitting in a comfort zone, always seeking new challenges and new mountains.
If I had a wish for the future, it would be that more women could have this sensation in their life, despite any prejudicial opinion. It can do no harm, only a few scratches and a face full of smiles.
Trinidad & Tobago
When I look back at how much I have developed, the pathways I have possibly started creating. I see a strong, courageous, determined West Indian woman from the islands of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I see a woman who has stamped her name in her country’s history books. A woman who has unlocked the doors of hope for many local, Caribbean natives and ethnicity.
A woman who became the first female from the English-speaking Caribbean to qualify a spot for her country at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. What it took to accomplish my achievements was a relentless drive to succeed. I never believed I was talented until I won the double gold in the Junior Caribbean Championships in the Dominican Republic. That fired me up to constantly want more. After all, I liked being known as a champion, a dominant force and I took great pride in hearing my country’s national anthem play. Year after year, I kept rising, I kept fighting, I kept improving and I kept thriving. Dominating races in the Caribbean and the local circuit became a norm.
But then things changed.
25 degrees to minus 14 degrees, I arrived in Aigle Switzerland. Who would have thought that this lil’ lanky Trini kid from this lil’ Caribbean island where cycling is not a developed sport would be bumping shoulders with the top women cyclist in Europe? I went from being a champion to a sore loser, a stray in the peloton just trying to survive and arrive at the finish line. Mentally frustrated, crying, wanting to go home, feeling lost and uncertain but still I rise. It must have been my perseverance to keep pressing on despite the odds, despite the naysayers, my self-belief, the small but mighty entourage I had surrounding me followed by a change of mindset. Now, here I am several years later, a professional cyclist for Valcar Travel and Service living in Italy. Along the way, I have made a lot of international friends. Some of who I even consider close friends. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does.” I, Teniel Victoria Campbell, aspire to be Legendary, to have an impact on this sport, to be boundless and grasp all the opportunities that come my way. I have high aspirations of stimulating the growth and development of cycling in Trinidad and Tobago, in the Caribbean and beyond.
Come along and ride with me.
To My Daughter,
Fiercely independent with an innate motivation to accomplish things “by myself”, my mother sought wisdom from the book “The strong-willed child” to help navigate raising me. Though it may be a challenging journey, I’m hopeful that I’ll need similar advice for you someday. This “strong will” has made me what I am today— more often a leader than a follower– someone who has deep-set beliefs and opinions with a strong sense of right and wrong. This strong will attracted me to cycling and channeled an indomitable mentality toward a healthy and robust life. It’s empowered me to push my mind and body farther than I knew was possible and shown me that I’m capable of accomplishing big and audacious feats.
Pedaling a bike has a magnetic effect on human relationships and this spirit has a way of supporting acceptance across lines of gender, income, race, or nationality. My successes in this sport have been in part thanks to this diverse community of cyclists who’ve accepted me, taught me, and believed in me. I believe deeply that every human being is intrinsically valuable. We all have something to share and something to learn. I hope that you too experience diverse friendships and opportunities, allowing yourself to be inspired and be willing to show others the way.
I see my job as your mother to demonstrate how passion and hard work can have a positive impact on the world around you. For me, cycling is medium to teach you, it is one of my passions. You too are capable of big and audacious feats and I will support you as you discover your own passions and interests.
You’ll soon be along for the ride with us and will see firsthand how we try and pursue a balance of work and play in our travels, adventures, and pursuits. Hard work has its place, but I hope you also experience the value of play and the joy, fullness and community that cycling can add to life.
Dear Future Self,
Today I was asked what do we need to do to get more women riding bikes?
I dream of seeing more women discovering the absolute joy of two wheels in whatever form they choose. Growth of women’s mountain biking must be at an all-time high at the moment, I hope we can continue on the same path. The best way to do this has to be to inspire each other. Inspire and be inspired. It’s amazing to see the push for women’s specific events, rides and skills camps, making it so accessible. Let’s encourage girls to be out on bikes from a young age, help them discover the adventure and thrill bikes can provide. Show them role models, the endless amazing women already doing epic things and pushing boundaries. The more young riders we have, the brighter the future of the sport. I think we have a duty, as females already in the sport, to build upon the community of riders and make sure everyone feels welcome to join in the fun.
Cycling has shaped the person I am. Taught me to break everything down and think rationally, much like a section of trail. It’s given me a focus; a purpose; a career, the confidence to constantly push my ability, and an excuse to travel the world. See more, experience more. It feels like freedom. But the most valuable thing cycling has given me is undoubtedly the people. How many people can say their friends both empower and challenge them?
Racing mountain bikes is such a big part of my life and I hope more women have the opportunity to make this a viable career. It’s a tough path to follow and we need to see more support from the industry to help make it possible. We already have incredibly exciting, close racing among women across disciplines and the depth of the field is continuing to grow. I hope that will fuel more interest from brands and media, to give riders the support they deserve.
Ultimately, my vision for the sport is that one day there are so many girls and women on bikes this question doesn’t even need to be asked, we can all just ride. Because that’s the beauty of cycling – it doesn’t matter who you are once you’re riding.
Rachel and Sandy
Dear Mom / Boss / mom boss? Boss mom?
We’ll begin with a quote from Susan B. Anthony.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel… the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
Oh Susan, how beautifully you explain something that causes so much perplexity to the bike industry.
Every day we hear stories with titles like, “how can we make cycling better for women?” “How can we get more girls on bikes?” “Why are women afraid of bike stores?”
Mom – You and Susan cracked that code a LONG time ago.
How lucky and blessed we have been to be three women in an undeniably male dominated business.
Bikes. Of all things, who would have thought?
Who would have thought bikes would be the reason we’d travel around the world? Who would have thought bikes would be the reason we’d meet so many people who in turn would enrich our lives and make them full? And lastly, bikes. Who would have thought they would be such a vehicle for change? Locally in Miami, and globally.
What a blessing it’s been to use Mack Cycle to share our love of fun and fitness and time outdoors with mother nature.
To ourselves, and to you, and to anyone who might be listening.
For whatever your question may be… we truly believe bikes are the answer. We’re going to save the world, and it will be while riding a bicycle.
Your two most lovable and stubborn employees & your not-so-little, little girls
Rachel and Sandy
We love you mom.
Dear Future Me,
I hope you are now sitting together with your family watching the women’s Strade Bianche on national television. Maybe your daughter has a favorite rider in the peloton that she is cheering for. A pro rider your daughter has seen a lot in the big newspapers because of her achievements as a professional sportswoman. And I hope that the woman who wins the race can share the victory and the prize money with her professional team in the same way the man who wins the same race can do. I hope that the women’s world tour now has three Grand Tours just as the men race. And that the public all over the world can watch the women’s Tour de France on their summer holidays.
I know that you will look back at your cycling career feeling lucky to have had the opportunity to live your dream, riding and racing bikes and being part of an exciting era of growth for women’s cycling. You got the opportunity to turn your favorite activity into your work and you gave it all to be the best possible you, as a rider and as a person. Riding your bike and being out on the road made you happy. You loved the speed and the action a bike race gave you and you wanted to see how far you could go as a rider. It was very motivating to push yourself to your limit and at the same time find the fine balance you need in an athlete’s life. You learned how to work towards a goal, and you met a lot of inspiring people in the sport. Some even turned out to be lifelong friendships. It was the best way to learn how to work in a team and you learned a lot about yourself. Especially when you did not succeed or you faced injustice. You learned to handle the disappointments, to be patient and to never give up. You learned to appreciate the process and be happy about taking those small steps in the right direction. When you create a good environment in a group where everyone has respect for each other and a shared goal, everything is possible.
As I write this I realize that I am now into my 20th year of cycling being my full-time job, my full-time passion, a huge part of my life, and I can see that over the past 20 years so much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same. The landscape of women’s cycling is changing, evolving, growing, more races are being broadcast and to bigger audiences, and there’s a push for increased professionalism and structure. But the heart, the drive, the competition, the raw energy that has always been a part of women’s cycling is still there, the competing for competition's sake, riders pushing themselves and each other to the absolute limit. My hope is to see that continue, I want the sport to keep growing, to reach a bigger audience, to inspire more young girls to ride bikes, to race bikes, to see female professional cyclists as role models, as heroes whose footsteps they can aspire to follow in, but I want to see if keep the grit, determination and passion that has always been at its core.
Women’s cycling has already given me so much, I’ve met so many amazing people, my now-husband included, I’ve traveled the world, seen places and people and cultures that I might otherwise never have experienced, and I achieved my childhood dream of representing my country at an Olympic Games. For me cycling has bigger feelings, higher highs and lower lows than “normal” life, from the euphoria of crossing the finish line first, or the pride of seeing the team execute a race plan to perfection, to the disappointment of abandoning a race or the fear of hearing those fateful words over race radio: crash, caduta, chute, to the butterflies I still get in my stomach at 5km to go when that result is within grasping distance. I have learned to step outside my comfort zone, push myself further than I ever thought possible, achieved things I never believed I could, and for that, cycling, I thank you.
Remember when you were 15, and you very nervously walked into the bike shop in town to ask for a job? You were fully in love with the feeling of freedom that riding a bicycle brings, and you needed to know how this amazing machine worked. You were quickly, and gruffly, turned down by the owner. Fortunately for you, the other person working in the shop—and the only woman working there—was watching that interaction happen. I don’t know what words were exchanged, how the conversation went, but it wasn’t long before a job offer came your way.
If Noreen Hogan hadn’t seen how desperately you wanted to work in the bike shop, how much you wanted to be a part of that community, and invited you to join in, I don’t know where I’d be.
At times, it’s been exhausting fighting for my space in a place created for men, having to justify why I deserve to be here. Having my expertise questioned, in a way that’s always unspoken but understood, it’s because I’m in a different category than my male coworkers.
As a way of saying “thanks” to Noreen, I’ve spent my career trying to make space for others, trying to remember to extend the invitation. Hiring women to work at my bike shop, being intentional about creating a welcoming and open atmosphere for group rides, simply showing up for work every day. For a long time, it felt like I was in that fight for space and recognition all by myself, but it’s been a while since I was the “first woman who’s worked here” or “the only woman” working in any place. When I look around the cycling world now, I’m inspired by the folks I see taking space and making room for others. My hope for the future is that momentum continues – more space created, and more people welcomed into this community. So, if you’re reading this or hearing this, please come for a bike ride, or come work with me. This is your invitation.
Dear Future Daughter,
Today I’m writing to you because I want you to know that I want the best this life can offer you – physically and emotionally. Although I am only 18, and I don’t have a lot of life experience yet, I do want to share with you the love that I have for cycling and what I wish for you in the future, if you decide that cycling is your love, too. People are now seeing the future is female. Women will be able to play sports and make a living, they will be able to do things that most of us still can’t right now. My parents moved to give me the best opportunities in life, especially in sports because that runs in our blood.
When I was younger, equality for women never crossed my mind but I have now realized that fighting for equality has become such a big part of my sport, I am now seeing changes happening which keeps me hopeful for the future. My hope is to give girls the best possible opportunities to achieve greatness in cycling no matter the gender. I would hope the future would bring equal pay and give the same opportunities that men are given so women feel stronger, more independent and confident within themselves. The sport has changed a lot since I started racing. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep growing as a racer and see the cycling world grow even more to make it equal. As every year passes I see improvements for the better and by the time a new generation in cycling has come up the hope is for girls to not have to think about equality at all. No matter whether I’m still racing or not I want to be a part of the upcoming generation for women in cycling. Young athletes deserve to know that hard work will pay off and that this is an opportunity that can be for everyone.
Cycling has been my biggest outlet in life. It has shown me the world and given me some of the greatest mentors and friends. Cycling is brutal but so rewarding. It’s hard work but it has given me the best possible support system to keep emotionally and physically strong and happy. It’s given me the confidence to believe in myself and strive for nothing less than greatness. I will forever appreciate how far cycling has taken me. It takes a village and I have the best possible one. It has made my connection with my family and friends stronger than ever and I will forever be grateful for that.