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The Cycling Podcast Féminin | Episode 20 | I ❤️ the 1980s

The Cycling Podcast Féminin | Episode 20 | I ❤️ the 1980s

[Titles] You are listening to The Cycling Podcast Féminin supported by Rapha Celebrating the sport and producing the finest cycling clothing since 2004. Richard Moore: Hello my name is Richard Moore I’m with Orla Chennaoui Orla Chennaoui: Hello Richard
Richard: Hello Orla Orla: Happy New Year
Richard: Happy New Year, yeah 2018 Orla: Oh come on a bit more excitement about that so we’ve survived another year that’s the way to look at it yeah we’re
here to take on a new one Richard: Year three of The Cycling Podcast Féminin. A big year for us we’re gonna be bigger and better and more frequent I hope – this year – that’s
the plan we’re working on that. Thank you very much for all your feedback to last month’s episode all gratefully received and we’ve got some competition winners I
will announce them later in the episode. Stay tuned for that – but this one to kick off the new year is a little bit different we’re gonna play just a couple of long
interviews with two very interesting characters we’re calling this episode ‘I love the 1980s’. That reference there gives away our age a little bit doesn’t it, Orla?
Orla: Well, you can still have like Richard: We’re kinda children of the eighties and so the eighties were when I got into cycling and one of the names, that I
remember, from when I first got into cycling reading Cycling Weekly and so on was
Mandy Jones who was the World Road Race Champion in 1982 when the World Road Race Championships were in well the last time they were in Britain Goodwood in
Chichester. And they’re coming back of course next year, 2019, to Yorkshire but Mandy
Jones won that race and that was pretty phenomenal. She wasn’t the first
British rider to be a World Road Race Champion but it was pretty incredible
actually- the first I remember yeah and it was it was you know exactly the
time where I was starting to become aware of cycling she was one of the
names one of the people that you read about in Cycling Weekly and I had
always wondered what happened to her because she just seemed to me to have vanished a
bit she wasn’t still involved as far as I knew however a couple years ago I met
her or 18 months ago I met her at the Dave Rayner dinner in Leeds – was
introduced her and I arranged to go and well, got her number and arrange to go and
interview her in Oldham where she now lives and works running a bike shop
with her husband and I went to see her on a very rainy cold day in Oldham we
sat and chatted and she was the most down-to-earth you know very unassuming
of women but an absolutely fascinating story and you know you look at the sort
of opportunities there are now for for kids and girls to get into sport is
still not necessarily easy but that the hurdle she had to clamber over back then
quite remarkable really it’s a great story so we’re gonna hear in some length
but before we hear from Mandy Jones and we’re gonna hear from another sort of
eighties pioneer somebody you spoke to, Orla? Orla: Yes, Robin Morton who was
the first woman in the history of cycling and I think still he only to own
and manage a men’s professional team in 1984 her team sponsored by Gianni
Motta became the first American team to enter a Grand Tour, she took them to the Giro d’Italia can you imagine I mean we had a little clip of her earlier last year on
the Cycling Podcast Féminin but we saved the whole interview because we wanted to
run the whole thing because it’s so wonderful but can you imagine being a
woman at the Giro d’Italia in 1984 I was a woman at the Giro d’Italia in the
naughties and even then not even the naughties post-naughties I don’t know
what we call the next decade but even then it is such as throwback to all
school European racing where women are there for a certain reason generally and
it’s not – certainly not to tell the men what to do so she was such a pioneer for
the woman sport and even there’s a story that she tells me about where the men’s
teams all had to have a meeting well… the men’s teams… just the team’s their managers all had a meeting before the start of Giro d’Italia to decide to take a vote
as to whether or not she should be allowed to be in one of the race cars…
it’s just phenomenal but yeah so she, her experience of men
cycling and in cycling in general is it’s a wonderful perspective so she very
kindly gave me some of her time from home in the States and we had a little
chat so here is Robin Morton. Orla: Robin, I wanted to talk to you about your time as a DS back in the 80s, how do you remember that time? Fondly?
Robin: Oh definitely fondly I think it was an experience that I wasn’t totally
prepared for and probably if I had been maybe older and more experienced I may
not have done it but definitely I look back on it fondly I really went into it
having no prior experience managing a team especially a men’s team. I didn’t
come at it from a lot of other directors where they were previously athletes or
had been involved in the sport maybe even in some coaching capacity so for me
it was just a little bit uh you know kind of going into it not with my eyes
wide open the other way around and I wasn’t totally prepared for some of the
things that would happen both financially and you know in in different
ways I mean it was a great experience it was a learning experience and I wouldn’t
change it for anything but definitely I was not prepared. Orla: So why did you go into then Robin? What brought you to that line of work? Robin: Well, my husband had raced as an
amateur with a local club it was a pretty like kind of storied historic
club in the area what’s called the Pennsylvania bike club and he had raced
and I got involved with the club both on a sponsorship level and helping them put
on their races their club events and through the bike club I met – who was a
professional then – John Eustace and he had just come back from racing in Europe
and you know started talking about how he wanted to put an American team
together to race in Europe and again not really knowing what I was getting myself
in for it was one of those things like oh yeah well okay I’m game this sounds
like it could be really great and so kind of led me off into a totally
different career path one that I would have never anticipated getting involved
in but it seemed like an adventure at the time. Orla: To listen to you speak Robin it sounds like you maybe had a bit of a baptism of fire can you give us some of
the stories from that time that made you realise that maybe you got into it with
your eyes wide shut.
Robin: well you know we went from you know we
organized the team here was a composed of American pros – free agents at the time –
which we had a lot more of them I don’t even think that you can do that now free
agent American and European pros and we had secured sponsorship from Gianni Motta he was an ex-professional had won the Giro just about every classic in Italy
was third in the Tour de France and he was exporting bikes to America and
wanted to get an American team into the Giro so I went from organizing this team
in the US and doing domestic racing to going to Italy and racing the Giro and
so I was the only woman at that point you know in an entourage of a couple
hundred men they didn’t even have women’s soigneurs yet, 7-eleven was the
first one to have that and they hadn’t even kind of embarked on their European
campaign so when I got to Italy and you know found myself in my late 20s in the
middle of this sea of masculinity they actually you know we got there and they
had the directors had to vote as to whether or not I was even allowed to be
in the caravan I don’t know what I would have done if they said no you know I
wasn’t prepared to go home but they actually had to take a vote in the
managers meeting as to whether or not I could even be there! Orla: Who brought that up? Who decided that they would have to vote? I mean it sounds soo antiquated now
already. Robin: Well I think you know I I don’t even know if it was a UCI regulation but
I think it was something that they had never experienced before and I cannot
actually recall I don’t know if it was the president of the jury of the UCI if
it was Vincenzo Torriani who at that point was the director of the Giro but
yeah they had to take a vote like actually a raise your hand yes or no can
she be here. Orla: Did you find out whether the vote was unanimous or were there any
objectors? Robin: If I recall I think it was unanimous
Gianni Motta probably paid everyone off no kidding but because it was a great PR
vehicle for him and for the team to have me there so I’m not sure why they did it
but yeah they did have to take a vote and then we celebrated with a glass of
champagne so it was very Italian. Orla: What was it like being the only woman at the
Giro d’Italia? I’ve covered it myself a few times and even though let’s say
there are a few cultural differences in Italy whereby well by some standards it
would appear a little bit sexist but I put a lot of that down to culture and
that’s today back in the early eighties it must have been another level?! Robin: well I will say that you know they were the writers and the directors were pretty
respectful at the same time you know I was a young woman and it was a whole
different experience for them and it was very old world I mean they would not let
me sit or eat with the riders you know they made me sit at a separate table
with the support personnel and I didn’t really speak Italian so for me that was
just like well okay you know I’m in the car all day I’m not speaking English I
have to sit here you know and the riders wanted me there so I thought we kind of
breached protocol and that was a big deal because I would eat dinner with the
riders at night versus the team personnel and so forth and you know that
was kind of scandalous but yeah it was it was it was a different experience I
can remember at one point you know in the morning before the stage start
Rancilio who was a espresso machine and espresso maker
they had their trailer that came there and all of the team captains would go in
there every morning before the start of the stage is to kind of just sit around
and you know shoot the breeze and have an espresso before the start and so one
morning they had invited me in there and said well you know you’re kind of one of
the guys now and we want you to come in and come down and have an espresso with us so I went in there and it was like Moser and
Visentini and Fignon on and you know Roger de Vlaeminck and all these riders
that I was really in awe of and so we’re sitting there and they said well you
know now we think you’re like one of the guys and we have something that we want
to give you what I’m thinking okay this is great it’s gonna be like a sign
Maglia Rosa or some kind of juror memorabilia and they came out with a
tray of vegetables in the shape of male genitalia and presented me with like you
know eggplants and all kinds of weird things so yeah but they did have her
photographer there so it was totally a setup. Orla: I read an interesting story as
well about a particular haircut that you were given I guess tell me about
that… Robin: Ah well so I went you know I had long hair and I guess that was something too that you know you get to be this was
back in the eighties get to be over a certain age and you’re married and you
don’t really wear your hair that way anymore and so one day something said oh you know we’re gonna take you to this stylist and you know you can get your
hair cut and whatever so I’m thinking okay I’ve been here for a while you know
get my hair cut and blown out I’ll look great so they took me in there and my
hair was down in the middle of my back and literally I looked like David Bowie
when I came out it was horrible really horrible yeah. Orla: David Bowie that’s a look on a woman in terms of actually the day-to-day job of being a DS how did
you find that because there’s so much to that and as you say you had little to no
experience, what was that like? Robin: well I would say it was somewhat different in Italy than in the States I mean I did manage a team for probably eight years
and in the end in the States it was much more of the directeur sportif role in
Italy it was more of the general manager and I handled a lot of the business
whereas Gianni Motta acted really as the DS I mean I was in the car with
him and I dealt with a lot of the rider issues but in terms of the strategy the
racing strategy for the Giro that was actually him I would say but at that
point I was more of the general manager of the team. Orla: and what was that experience like then I mean you had brought the first ever American team to the Giro
d’Italia that in itself was blazing a trail really
wasn’t it? Robin: it was it experienced for sure as I said I I did have a lot to base it
on I had no previous racing experience I had been to Europe once and experienced
a number of races and the World Championships and and whatever so you
know it was a lot of it was just learning by making mistakes there
weren’t any other teams. 7-eleven came along in 1984, 1983 there weren’t a lot of
other teams to be able to learn from or to sort of you know take that follow
their lead so it was really trial and error I have to say it was a small
budget team so we really ran things sort of by the seat of our pants
we were lucky for the first few years that we had decent sponsors the first
year it was Gianni Motta the next year we did the Vuelta and had
a different sponsor with Xerox that was in Europe and Benotto and then for a few
years following that I worked with Fenini and some teams in Italy. Orla: When you finished that first Giro d’Italia did you think to yourself yep I’ve been
bitten by the bug this is fantastic or did you think – well that was wonderful to survive it maybe I’ll do something else now? Robin: well halfway through the Giro – I mean it was fraught with issues – I mean there
were issues between myself and the other team management because I was very
strong-willed and wasn’t willing to just sort of sit back and let them take over
the team so there was that issue there were some
money issues with the sponsors so halfway through the Giro I was actually
ready to pack it in I was you know planning on coming back I was going to
just turn the team over to Gianni Motta and the rest of the the management of
the team and my husband had come over I had been gone for a few months at that
point and my husband had come over to visit and he said to me look you know if
you if you decide that you’re gonna pack it in that’s fine we can leave tomorrow
but if you come back you’re never going to be able to do this again this is like
a once-in-a-lifetime experience and so I decided to stay and it was very
difficult but once I think I got through that point then there was no turning
back and I’ve been doing it now for 25 years. Orla: Did you feel like you were blazing a trail back then did you feel like a pioneer of sorts?
Robin: No, I didn’t even think of it like that I didn’t think of it like that and I think that’s that’s
probably why I did it like I did not think that it was going to be sort of
viewed as such a monumental thing like okay well I mean that’s how my parents
brought me up bike come up from just a family of women you know and my parents
were like well you can do anything you wanted…wanted to do there are no
restrictions and so once I became involved with John Eustace again he
became my partner and this was his idea and he didn’t say well you’re women a
woman and I don’t think that you know this would work I just felt like it
wasn’t an issue I mean I got over there and it was “Hey! Hi!? Why does everybody
think this is so weird ?” I mean you know I don’t have a problem with it but yeah so
no I I did not feel that I was a trailblazer it was just something that I
I set about to do I wanted to do it and I was determined to make it happen. Orla:
Are you proud now though nonetheless- looking back and realizing that you did
forge a path to a certain extent for women in cycling?
Robin: Uh, I feel like I accomplished a lot I don’t know if I forged a path I don’t know how many
people have actually followed you know my crazy idea I think that
women’s cycling hasn’t actually come far enough I’m surprised that there aren’t
more women involved on the men’s side of the sport there are women you know physical therapists and women trainers but there
are really no women with the exception of Rachel Heal and that isn’t a
full-time job for her on the men’s side but with the exception of Rachel I
really don’t know anybody else that is directing a men’s professional team so
in that regard I think women’s racing in terms of the level of competition and
the number of teams and with the Women’s World Tour I mean I think that’s
fabulous and it’s come a long way but I still think that women haven’t made
enough inroads on the men’s side of the sport.
Orla: why do you think that is?
Robin: I just think it’s very old world it’s still very chauvinistic sport I mean you still
you look at any major league sports even in terms of the commentating or the
announcing and there aren’t in the US there really aren’t many women that are
involved there are a few women trainers there’s no women coaches of any major
league teams there’s a few announcers commentators on a channel like ESPN –
they’re kind of relegated to interviews occasionally you know post event locker
room kind of banter and things like that so you know sports is still very chauvinistic and male-dominated – the only way that women would get hired to actually
run a men’s team is if a woman on the team. Orla: Like you did!
Robin: Right well with the exception I will say of UnitedHealthcare, Rachel is the only one
that I can think of that her director that is the director that her general
manager and the team actually totally supports that endeavour. Orla: Do you think from the sports side of things that we need more female DS’s in the men’s and on the
women’s side of the sport does it make a big difference? Robin: I think that if there are qualified women they should be able to work with whatever team they want or
accepts them but they should be in the mix to be hired for those roles I don’t
think that the the gender part of it should matter it’s a level of experience
and intelligence and management skills and I think that if you’re a good director and can manage and direct a team of women you can do that with a team of men and vice versa because look at all the men
directors that manage women’s teams there shouldn’t be a difference. Orla: Is there anything you think in the female makeup psychology if you like that would give
them an advantage really as a DS over over men? Is there anything about women
that they can bring that man can’t necessarily offer?
Robin:I think women tend to be more consensus builders you know and I think that
that’s important often that the directors I find are very autocratic
and I think that the teams now the riders want to have more say into
certain aspects not necessarily the selection of the events or who is
selected to be at a specific event but I think that in general the riders have a
bigger say in what goes on with the teams now than they used to
it’s not such a dictatorial kind of environment and I think that women are
generally better consensus builders than men. Orla: So what would you say is your
fondest memory Robin of your time working as a DS? Robin: I think there were a few things one when we were involved and in Italy and when we rode the Giro
that all the Americans finished the Giro under some you know kind of odd and
adverse conditions and so they all finished and then in terms of in the
US there was a race in Philadelphia it had been a men’s what was then the World Cup
and a team that I managed won that so they were kind of two highlights. Orla: What
about the lowlights dare I ask? If there was anything that
if you had visualised in isolation before you’d become a DS and you knew it was
going to happen to you that maybe you might have thought – I might not do this after all? Robin: I think in terms of the racing aspect of it
no but in terms of actually putting the team together and owning the team in the
beginning it was really financially burdensome and taxing for myself and my
husband because once we made commitments even when sponsorship had fallen through
we felt that we were obligated to meet those commitments so financially it was
really the first few years were really terrifically difficult to keep the team
going obviously without the support of my husband he had like a regular
corporate job without the support of my husband the endeavour would have been
over a lot sooner. Orla: And you’re glad you did it in the end? Robin: Oh yeah I am glad I
wouldn’t have changed anything you know every experience even the bad ones
contributes to kind of what you become and who you are as a person and cycling
really opened a lot of doors for me I think it’s made me a much stronger
person and able to deal with a lot of adversities and a lot of problems and
and variables and do things on the fly I transitioned from working with the teams
to event production and I’ve been doing that now for a long time so I think it’s
really provided me with a lot of opportunities that I wouldn’t have
anticipated. The Cycling Podcast Féminin is supported
by Science in Sport – Science in Sport, fuelled by science Richard: Thank you very much
to Science in Sport for sponsoring The Cycling Podcast Féminin again this year, you can still get 20% off all your Science in Sport products with the
code CPAUG20 that will change at some point but it still works just now if you
enter that code at the checkout at science in sport dot com you will get
20% off we heard before the break from Orla in conversation with the remarkable
Robin Morton and now we’re going to hear from another remarkable woman Mandy
Bishop who 36 years ago as Mandy Jones became the world road race champion at the tender age of just 20 – an astonishing achievement. These days she’s married to
Nigel Bishop who himself is a former professional rider and he served us
cups of tea when we met in the bike shop that the couple run in Oldham just
outside Manchester here she is – Mandy Jones Richard: So Mandy, we’re here in Oldham, in your bike shop how long have you had this place? Mandy: we’ve had this place about six years yeah there mail order side, yeah. Richard: Now, I met you the Dave Rayner dinner briefly and it was one of those moments where
it’s such a familiar name because I got into cycling in the eighties and you
were you were one of the names you know and there weren’t many in British
Cycling who were performing on an international stage. Mandy: no no.
Richard: tell me how you right at the beginning how did you get into cycling? Mandy: my parents were cyclists – simple as that really but I’d got younger sister Carol who’s five
years younger than me so when we were little they’d packed in cycling and
then when we actually moved to Rochdale and I would have been ten they joined
the local cycling club which was the West Pennine and got Carol and I bikes I
don’t think you’d really call mine a bike I was on a Raleigh Chopper which my
mother used to use during the week for insurance round but I think dad
obviously weren’t loaded didn’t want to spend lots of money on bike for me
because I was still growing as well and didn’t know if I’d like it but we
started off doing little tours and you know you little youth hostel weekends and things like that and and then he took me down to bike shop in Manchester and bought me
a Wes Mason frame I remember bringing it all the bits home
and us building it up together. Richard: what age were you then? Mandy: I would have been about 13 – fixed wheel Richard: Was racing something that interested you then? Mandy: No, it didn’t interested me didn’t even cross my mind at the time I mean my
dad had he used to time trial when he was riding previously but was more of a
distance man so it’s like the 112s but he’d never ridden any road
races they were club cyclists my parents really and it was my dad who encouraged
me I mean said that to start and I just started doing things like the local 10 mile you know the club night on Wednesday night ten mile time trial kind
of thing and just gradually started doing time and again racing was
different wasn’t it there wasn’t as much on so at weekends if it was a time
trial I’d do with ten miles for instance and I think eventually did a twenty five
probably the medium gear 25 on Cheshire or something like that but there was no
I didn’t do any road racing and there was you know no circuit racing and all
that I didn’t start road race until Oh 16. Richard: So, were there many other girls
racing in those sorts of races? Mandy: no not really and when I started racing
road racing – I bet if there were twenty ladies racing. Richard: Throughout the whole country or?
Mandy: in road races yeah I don’t remember the bean that many probably 30…40…I mean
gradually as time went on it did get more and better and you did get bigger
fields and of course the thing was we had no categories ladies did we which is
a good job because otherwise the fields would have been very small
but all categories rolled in the same race so right from your elite so what’s
riding you know there was like this Swinton sisters and Pauline Cave
and Joy Pots and so on and they were there as I was coming into it already Richard: Obviously Beryl Burton had been a great champion but were there any other female riders role models I suppose people who you could look at and
you know be inspired by?
Mandy: it might sound really awful this well that’s not what
kind of thing inspires me I don’t know why I’m I’m just competitive and wanted
to win and it didn’t matter to me who they were I know it sounds really awful
but it haven’t even Beryl who I admire you know fantastically all I saw is that
I can do that I can do that you know I mean it
wasn’t a and not a conscious thing either wasn’t a conscious thing it was
just there at the back of my mind she was just a human being she was just
somebody – all he likes yes did at the Richard: the time trials and 10 mile TTs
did you, you must have been a few the boys? As well did you? Mandy: Eventually yeah I mean one of the things that one of the competition’s I used to have was
Julie Earnshaw of course she was local to me as well in Shaw and Julie and I used
to battle it out cuz we’re the same age like in the Junior Ten you know she beat me
and you know things like that I think we’d got the junior 25 she beat me in
the junior ten we actually got join ten mile and it was again only gradually
because I really I was only riding the bike the weekends I didn’t really start
training until it was late seventeen I was that made a massive difference it’s
amazing what riding your bike more regularly does for you
I’d actually started training and then I started training with Ian Greenhouse
and I was going out all the time training and that was the big difference
because of course everybody worked didn’t they we’re all amateurs they
work they rode at night if they could they raced at weekends and I went from doing
it part-time to just doing it full-time and effectively from there was an
amateur i trained like a pro I’ve trained with Ian everyday and he was
riding in the pro ranks how did you do that were you working or studying or no
I’d finished college and basically the the government sponsored me! Richard: You were you were on the dole? There are a lot of writers in the eighties yeah rode like
that. Mandy: My parents supported me you know at the end of the day they supported me
by taking to me to to events you know what my dad paid for entry fees and
things like that and without them I would have not been able to get anywhere
it was a massive amount of support my dad was quite happy for me to ride full-time and
that was the big difference because like Julie who really was because she’s my
age as well Julie was a fantastic rider but Julie worked as well as tried to race
and obviously these days they don’t do that or they they train full-time and it
makes a big difference massive difference. Richard: there wouldn’t have been much of a career path for a female rider in those days so what
driving you what were your ambitions? Targets? Mandy: I wanted to win the world’s.
Richard: Really? you’d set your heart on that? Mandy: Well funnily enough again it’s that
subconscious thing isn’t it? When I was at school doing my O Levels
I remember that one of the teachers saying to me she got annoyed with me ’cause she’d say like “you know you’re not working hard enough” and she
said something to me about you know oh she knew was a cyclist because she lived at the end of our street and she said you spending too much time cycling what kind
of thing what you gonna do with that and I said I’m gonna be World Champion and I
walked out the I think she was a bit stunned – I was stunned and I walked out of the classroom and I remember thinking to myself “Where did that come?!” from because I
hadn’t consciously thought it but obviously it was at the back of my mind
and yeah that was what they I mean when I was training with Ian that was
always the plan three years you know at that point in time so it’s three years
to Goodwood UK we’re gonna aim to win the worlds. Richard: so it was very much an ambition? Was that
also saying to teacher that result that also a way for you to justify that your
attention was elsewhere in the commitment and the time you were putting
into it? Mandy: Possibly, possibly and I knew there was no career in it but we need
that age you don’t think about things like that do you at the end of the day
to me I knew I wasn’t gonna go on to a professional career like a man possibly
would I just had a name and we hadn’t even thought and I haven’t thought about
where I was if you win what do you do after that it was just simply that was
the goal and that concentrated on it and obviously the racing in between then and
then you know planning what races you’re going to ride and and now you’ll build up
over the winter and things like that I didn’t consciously think about what
would happen after… Richard: You were setting your sights on Goodwood and the World
Championships. Mandy: Yeah and I think really in some ways very naive about a I certainly was I mean at the end of the day I was twenty years old and like today of course they’ve got that
support haven’t they they even teach you how to talk to the media and so on and so forth
and we have no plans for if I won it was almost even though we’d planned it it was a shock. Richard: We’ll get will get on to winning it in a moment but. Mandy:
just think afterwards what do you do now? Richard: How did you get yourself ready for that I mean can you tell me about the couple of years leading into that what sort of
races did you do and how did you get yourself into position
you might be in contention? Mandy: I mean the thing I did was we trained all year round so even in the winter winter was doing lots of miles even Youth Hostel
weekends but we do regular suddenly runs of like hundred and twenty mile in the
winter not probably much in the week because at work I actually used to work
over the winter get a job over the winter and other than that it was ladies
road races so you plan the calendar round the National Championships and I
used to ride the time trials and the Road Race and the Pursuit so we just
rode everything and then we used to get usually an invite May-ish to go and race
abroad which was usually France or Belgium but we only really got them in
the early season like that there was nothing in the middle of season and so
other than that I’d probably ride the time trial on a saturday then a road race
on a Sunday and then I was still at Leicester track I did some training behind the
motorbike usually a couple of weeks before Leicester and a lot of it was trial
and error Richard: So, you had no way of really measuring yourself against the
international competition other than those brief early ones? Mandy: in those brief early ones which were were internationals and I obviously did well at them and we rode
well as a team together but they were only early on in the season so although you
could be going well early on in the season when you met them in May you
didn’t know what was gonna be like in September and I would say what kind of
race is they actually in the year and we come back home and be riding and they
weren’t many ladies races riding ladies races so if there was no races I’d ride
a Time Trial and I’d ride out to the time trial if it was nearly enough so if
it was on Lancaster if it was on Cheshire I ride out ride the event ride
home so I always kept my milage up because I was probably doing about 350
to 400 mile a week Richard: how did you get on when you raced internationally?
Mandy: Internationally, I had no problem at all Richard: So, you knew that you could compete you there was nothing to frighten you there when you came up no when I came up no did you ride the World’s other years as well? Mandy: Yeah I rode 80, 81 and 82 and 83
with the 1980 I got bronze in Salanche they were all was the same
place really that was really hard I lost you very hard because we used to ride
the pursuit and the road race – so in 80 I rode the pursuit first and a
punctured cross the track was wet and nearly came off my bike – that was the
scariest thing in the world and then I was riding against French girl and got
booed which lovely so i didn’t do very well at that but then I got a bronze medal on the road then in 81 we decided that I would ride the
pursuit only and I’d broken the world record on Leicester and so we thought right we’ll concentrate on that unfortunately I
wasn’t well it was in Prague and remember riding the heats and thinking I
can’t I’m really struggling to stick with the line here and I just did a
bombed-out there’s a rubbish ride and then start the day later all this cold
started coming out so I did nothing in 81 and in 82 again same thing that
Leicester but because it was in the UK I trained and again what was this is what
I was saying about trial and error and knowing what and oh no you wouldn’t do
that but I was training behind the motorbike a couple of times a week so
I’d go out on the road do a road ride and then in the afternoon go out be on
the motorbike but then I drag behind Ian on the most bike and then I’d come by Ian
he’d be doing 30 mile an hour I come for the side of him and I had to last say two
lamp-posts over the side of him and of course gradually I got faster would do
probably four up and down this circuit we did but I did it until the Wednesday
before the pursuit on the Saturday – well I was knackered wasn’t I ?! I’d done something like a 356 in the Nationals and I did a 408 and I was like so fed up. Richard: That must have been difficult ?
Mandy: It was really because who I am that people expected me to do well i’d
won the Nationals I’ve been going well and I expected me once much what I
expected it and I was thinking oh my god and I do get nervous I am quite a
nervous person anyway but after that I just went oh well I don’t bloody care
now kind-of-thing so a week later when it came to the road race I was really relaxed as
I’ve got nothing to lose I’ve already make a cock-up basically as
far as I was good didn’t even realize then what it was didn’t realize it was
because I trained so close to the event Richard: so what did you do I mean training wise in between? Mandy: i just got on my back and pottered around well of course it was
like oh your best days for you because you’re tapering aren’t you – which I now
understand but didn’t then and so when it came to the road race I was flying
and I was dead relaxed Richard: Well tell me about it as you lined up. I mean did you fear? Who was the main opposition? Mandy: Cannons
Maria Cannons Italian rider – Jeannie Long We’d been riding against all these
but you know I’d ridden against them earlier on in the year so I didn’t know them
because that was the other thing because we didn’t ride internationals regularly
you’ve sometimes you only saw people the first time in the World Championships
you know so it was a bit odd but we got frontline start I did remember Jim Hendry
holding me up and put both my feet in and then as we set off somebody’s
pedal when in my wheel and i had to put my foot down Richard: And what was the course like? Mandy: It suited me because it was if it had been earlier it’d probably have been better but Goodwood it’s got a climb yeah climbs up to pass Goodwood House and up to where the racing circuit is – the horse racing circuit then it drops off a bit then it
comes back down hill through the woods along some lanes and actually then we
did the motor racing circuit which was the worst bit in some ways because no
cover very exposed if you get away they could see you so it’s you know it’s not
like hiding in the lanes and the trees where they can’t see you Richard: Motor racing circuits are not great for bike racing as we’ve discussed
before on the podcast tell me how the race unfolded then? Mandy: so if I can remember it’s thirty odd years ago first time round one of the dutch girls got away and I
went with her and then that wasn’t going anywhere and I just I just rode a very
positive race I didn’t mean when everything falls into place when you fit
and you’ve done the training and you’ve done all the preparation you can all you
can do is ride the race and I just rode it in a very positive way and I
was just watching everything and I went with this first move and then they got caught
back and it was actually on the climb they got caught back then in the next
lap round I was away that was a I’d been away with this dutch girl and as
we were on the right-hand side of the hill were climbing the hill Canons
and another couple of girls were chipping off on the left and I was like
gritting me teeth and I got across onto the back of them and that was the move that
went away then and so we carried on up the climb past the finish because the
finish was at South Hill along and actually when we went along the flat bit
and as we turned right I just took off and that’s when I got away – that was the last
lap. Richard: And was that always going to be your strategy or? Mandy: My strategy is always to get away because I’m not a sprinter against all the
people who are climbers I’m not so bad but against outright sprinters no and
because it was a hill finish no my ploy was always I had to get away because
it’s just so much safer from my point of view I know I can time trial if I can
get away out of sight out of mind again you know I can just put me head down
you got way we surprised to gang up I was surprised actually because it was on
a downhill bit I got away because I think again because people and I’ve had
to do this in races because I could climb people expected me attack on a
climb and the amount of times I’ve tried to get on a climb and it’s not worked
because people chase you and on a few events I’ve actually got away downhill
because everybody goes oh well we’ve got her she’s all right we’re over the top we
can stay with her now and I and while they relax I just go and I just did the
same thing as we were now on this bend that was first round and they must’ve
just eased up thinking oh we’re on a downhill and I just took off and then I
don’t think watch to see if it was a reaction had gone! Richard: So, what was it like going on to the motor racing circuit? With a lead? Mandy: That was scary
yeah because usually when you’re riding your nerves have gone aren’t they? But
when I came around that motor racing circuit I get on it first and it’s going
around and of course as it’s going that way I can’t see but as we get round and
I could look back over my right shoulder and I can see them and I’m thinking my
god they don’t seem that far behind and I
just had to grit my teeth and just keep going because I thought if I
look you know cuz I know if I’d have been in the group behind sees somebody
in front of me like that it’s like Tortoise and the Hare job you
know I would have been after him and I’m sure they were it’s okay he was the case
I’ve obviously off the Motor Racing circuit you back into the trees then and I could
see some girls or per head of me because I was catching the Chinese girls who
we’d lapped so that was a bit of a pull for me because I could see somebody
in front but I remember thinking the one thing that stuck in my mind was the road
surface and the fact that it was not a nice smooth – you know I’m thinking why
couldn’t they have tarmac’d this listen made it smooth because it was like you’re tired and
you’re trying and you’ve got this juddering noise this you got
feeling as you’re going along and then the climbs started and I’ve just got a grit
my teeth Richard: And it climbed up to the finish?
Mandy: So it climbs a bit – it drags so it’s really heavy on your legs – dipped a little bit and then he
started to climb and then you do a peel off right but the thing was then I was
in the crowds and there was that many people shouting for me it was like being
lifted it was just such a fab feeling Richard: That’s funny because the phenomenon of huge British crowds at events has we’ve seen that last year’s a olympic
road race, Tour of Britain, Tour de France but that crowd was that with a
casual spectators was a British Cycling you know most of them a British
Cycling people then they come from all over the country to be there. Richard: So, they knew you know they knew what what was at stake and they knew that a British girl was
coming up to win – so what did that feel like you know getting to the line
crossing the line – World Champion. Mandy: absolutely bloody fantastic there’s no other word for it and the fact that you just think like I say slightly unreal as well because you think
my god i’ve actually done it what a sight to have actually done
it no it’s just a fantastic feeling. Richard: and the rainbow jersey obviously meant as much then as it as it meant now? Mandy: Yeah, I think you’re even with the
Olympics I think the rainbow jersey still means a massive amount yeah –
to cycling people I think. Richard: What did it do for you then you know what British
World Champion in a very unusual thing what did it do did it did it change your life
did it bring any rewards Mandy: Financially no nothing there was lots of interviews and
things like that to start with – the immediate after effects but no because there was no financial rewards couldn’t do any advertising there was
you know cuz you were nervous sure you know mature there’s not no advertising
and now you can cash it on that Richard: So you got zero sponsorship or? Mandy: no nothing like nothing no nothing at all Richard: you just stood out more in
the local club 10 in your Rainbow Jersey Mandy: yeah and you got invited out I mean you got invited to obviously dinners and be guests of honours and things like that
and then there was television a few television programs I did and things are
Iike Question of Sport. Richard: Who were Question of Sport with? That has got to
be on YouTube surely? Mandy: Oh it will probably be yeah
Richard: And what about you know racing internationally, as I said earlier the women’s
scene back then was was pretty pretty poor but there were one or two things
happening there were the first sort of seeds of growth Mandy: Yeah there were and there was things like the Tour de l’Eau which was a five day event which which came on later on cuz I
had a couple years out came back again rode in ’85 by had an injury that picked
up I picked it up probably in ’83 I think and couldn’t get a diagnosed but I
mean I didn’t get it dealt with until ’86 and eventually realized they realized it
was a tear in my sheath but it made riding the Tour de France incredibly painful
because of the length their climbs so even though it was really fit and going
well and I was third place overall I ended up having to pull out. Richard: this was 85?
Mandy: I didn’t ride the first Tour in ’84 No I didn’t know I was having a year
out. Richard: But you went in 85 yeah and in what we were your impressions of that because it seemed at the time that that was it looked like a really good event with lots of
potential I remember the you know the way that it was organized
it was obviously coincided with the men’s race and and and women were on the podium with the men in Paris etc but how did it feel I do part of it? Mandy: It was
fantastic the atmosphere and obviously because you’ve got the crowds that there
for the men as well that was the thing that gave it the atmosphere and it was
brilliant what they used to do we thought because I would say we couldn’t
ride as many days cuz we’re amateurs and obviously couldn’t ride the distances so
what we’re doing is you obviously finish in the same place in the men but they
bus us in too nearer so the night it’s others say you overnight you bussing to
a hotel further down and then so I remember seeing a lot of gutters and
being on a lot of buses going around a lot of travel yeah a lot of traveling
because after the race we’d usually drive some distance pausing a hotel
somewhere then the next morning after drive again probably to the star I think
and I know some of the women have said oh why can’t they women’s Tour de
France again with the men’s I think to be honest with you it was a logistical
nightmare for them because it meant they had to find more hotels all the
logistics of actually bussing us round and so on and so forth I can understand why
they only did it for a little bit of time Richard: Did it feel though then that there was the start of of a proper scene I mean there was a bit
momentum there for a few years it seemed to die away a bit in the 90s but it certainly picked up again now Mandy: Yes it did and I think they started to realise as well but obviously like the World
Championships like I say was 38 40 miles that actually we could ride a lot
further than that and then I remember riding the Giro and in the late 80s and
like I said the Tour de l’Eau which was a five day race and then the Giro and the
distances were like um you know one hundred and ten hundred twenty Ks a
day for a stage race you know it’s ten days so gradually at least the profile
of women from that point of view they realised that so we can put better races
on because we know they can do the distances Richard: Did it annoy you that you know that here were you British world champion and you couldn’t be a professional you
couldn’t compete like the men could did that frustrate you? Mandy: Uh not particularly at the time because I think there was no there wasn’t enough women to be a
professional if you wanted to turn professional you couldn’t have ridden
the races so to me there’s it a very pragmatic you don’t really feel like
you’re missing it because I just didn’t see the point in getting annoyed about
so it wasn’t there you know at least if you might surround as an amateur you
could still ride events and things and there was enough things going on then
and of course then the Olympics came into it so although I didn’t I wasn’t
riding in ’84 and ’88 when the lady you know when ladies could ride the Olympics
I was right in in the early ’90s and I was going to the Olympics in 92 supposed
to be then we back went. Richard: So, you never competed in the Olympics. Is that a regret? Mandy: It’s a regret yes oh yeah yeah yeah naffed off cause me back went and although I was treated very
well British Cycling sent me down to Olympic Center down in London they
have doctors and everybody’s looking at me and so on and so forth I went to Lily
Shoal rehabilitation centre but the problem is that was getting to the point
where we’re getting near and near the Olympics and I hadn’t done enough
training you know even if they’d eventually by the time it’s all said
right you’re okay know you can it would have been too late Richard: What happened in 84? Mandy: 84 I just had a year out I’d had enough because I think I’ve concentrated so
hard on actually winning the Worlds then I had to ride in ’83 because if you
see the interview of me I say I’m not riding next year of course not ride as I was World Champion but I didn’t do particular well so then I had ’84 out and he mmm can’t remember why 88 I had Sam in ’86, had an operation on me leg at the end of ’86 rode again in ’87 can’t remember why didn’t ride in 88 Richard: When did you carry on racing until? Mandy: ’90 when I had to stop early in the season when in ’92 when I had to
pull out because me back had gone out a I’d been out mountain biking and I wouldn’t
mind out behind I was going fantastically well that winter cuz I was
out the lad’s on the mountain bike we were out that road bikes and I was
bloody flyin and I felt stronger then I had when I was 20 and I really felt I’m
thinking I’ve had a really good winter was absolutely chuffed was out on the
mountain bag did nothing funny was just putting my foot down
and me back just went like that I had to crawl through the front door when I got
home couldn’t move Richard: If you look back on your career what obviously the the world title would be the highlight any other
highlights any other races experiences that you look back on with fondness? Mandy: the thing is I enjoyed time trial in as well you see so some of the wind I had time
trialling – I really liked and winning the pursuit you know doing the world record
and then doing the hour record on the track that was a and I can’t walk after
that, they had to carry me off my bike Richard: The opportunities for for women now are obviously still not on a par with the men but there’s a there’s a you know
Women’s World Tour there are women’s professional teams do you wish you were
racing now? Mandy: yes in some ways I do yeah the fact that is actually some money in
it as well…not that I’m avaricious but at least you know you could have done
it with support and I think it part of the thing about is they get so much
support from the fact that they’ve got physios and you know psychologists and
so on and so forth and that would have been a massive
advantage I mean not just to me…to everybody but the end of the day I
rode when I did you know we’re all in the same boat so you know hey-ho but
yes I would love to have been riding now. Richard: Would you be have been winning? Mandy: Of
course that’s irrelevant isn’t it ’cause I wouldn’t be the age I am now would I. I would be in my twenties yeah Richard: But you’re riding about you still you said you’re off to Majorca so yeah you
ride a lot now or? Mandy: I don’t ride a massive amount no but I do try and keep
fit so we’ll ride to work and back a few times and then go out at the weekends
and I’ll do 40 or 50 miles just to keep me ticking of you know
Majorca’s a holiday I’m not going training. Richard: are you still competitive on a bike? Mandy: yeah yeah it never goes that So in Majorca you’ll be out there riding the big climbs and it depends how fit I get hmm I might
do cuz it’s a nice cake at the top your priorities yeah you gotta get your
priorities right yeah no that’s great Richard: Do you know any of the the women who race like Lizzie Armistead or anybody like that? Mandy: No I don’t no.
Richard: Do you think they know who you are and what you achieved?
Mandy: certainly I’ve mean I’ve met Lizzie and spoken to Lizzie so I suppose Lizzie does
but you know some of the younger girls don’t but you wouldn’t expect them to
when they weren’t even born some of them were they? It’s a bit like at least
talking about Beryl in my day, Beryl was still around and still racing and still up there so that’s slightly different when
somebody’s visually there I think but I’m not involved in the cycling racing side
so the fact that girls don’t know I am doesn’t you know. Richard: for you I
mean that there’s quite an elite club of you know British riders who have
achieved at our level World Championship you know Tom Simpson yourself Beryl
Burton you call Nicole Cooke, Mark Cavendish now that there are more
there’s a bigger club but it must fill you with a lot of pride to be part of that? Mandy: yeah it does certainly yeah and I do get a lot of recognition from people who were
probably my generation are slightly older and who appreciate what you’ve
done and what you’ve been through yeah to get there you understand what
you’ve been through to get there so that’s good yeah. You are listening to
the cycling podcast Féminin supported by Rapha – celebrating the sport and producing the finest cycling clothing since 2004. Richard: So, that was the quite remarkable though she clearly doesn’t realise it Mandy Jones
and before that we heard from Robin Morton – just two really interesting
people with really interesting stories from a different era in all senses
really and I hope you’ve enjoyed that sort of slightly different episode of
cycling podcast Féminin this month we’ll be back won’t we Orla, with a
conventional episode I think next month we will indeed what we got planned we’ve
got a whole host of wonderful surprises in store so do not miss it but yeah you
you enjoy hearing Mandy Jones there as well? Orla: loved it loved it I think it’s
really lovely to hear the stories of those have come before us and to
remember how the sports changed to have a little look at that because it puts
into context where it is now as well and I think sometimes with sports coverage
in general we get bogged down by results and form and training and whatever’s in
the news at the time and I just love taking the time and speaking to people
and hearing their back stories and hearing their their journey through life
and through the sports I think it’s just a privilege when we get to hear that and
share that with them. Richard: Indeed, well that’s all for this month as I said we’ll be
back next month in the meantime thank you very much Orla. Orla: Thank you, Richard Richard: just before we go this month we do have some competition winners as I mentioned
earlier lots of you guests that I serenaded Eileen Rowe with ‘Come on
Eileen’ and lots of you also shared some of your favorite cycling podcast
feminin moments from the past year thank you very much for that first some
winners of the WNT kit including Eileen Rowe’s signed British champions Gilet and
Katy Archibald’s world champions kit the winners of this stuff are Stephen
D’Souza, Jonathan Smith, and Mike Strasser please drop us a line with your
addresses Stephen Jonathan and Mike when Orla and I are together next month we’ll
go through some of your feedback and pick some winners of the Pedaleuse de
Charme t-shirts I know we keep saying these are imminent but we have been
assured by Rapha that the female range of clothing will
available in early February so we’ll announce some winners plural of Pédaleuse de Charme t-shirts next month until then thank you very much for listening You are listening to the cycling podcast
Féminin supported by a Rapha – celebrating the sport and producing the finest
cycling clothing since 2004

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