Every four years, I watch the Olympics, and every four years, I watch sports such as diving, swimming, and gymnastics, and question my life decisions.
Joanne Hogan is a Victorian cyclist racing for Spanish women’s professional cycling team Bizkaia – Durango.
She is a current Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) Women’s Cycling Scholarship holder and was the winner of the 2011 Amy Gillett Scholarship.
Some of Jo’s major achievements include the bronze medal in the 2011 Australian Road Championships and silver in the Criterium Championship.
GreenEDGEFans: Hi Joanne, thanks very much for agreeing to give up your time for GreenEDGEFans and The Roar. You race for Bizkaia – Durango, can you tells us a bit about the team and how you got to race with them?
Jo: Bizkaia – Durango is a Spanish Women’s professional team, based in the Basque Country in Northern Spain. The team has helped to develop some of the best female cyclists in the world, such as Joane Somarriba, multiple Giro De Feminin winner and World Time Trial champion and current Swedish champion and now cyclist for Hitec Products, Emma Johansson.
I was given the opportunity to race with Bizkaia – Durango through the Australian national coach, Martin Barras, late in 2011. It was a great opportunity to race with a professional UCI team, which had a comprehensive racing calendar. I started off my season racing the Spring Classics. This was both an amazing experience and a huge learning curve.
GreenEDGEFans: Bizkaia – Durango has had Shara Gillow, Davina Summer and Ruth Corset in the team before, so it has somewhat of an Australian pedigree. What are your goals at Bizkaia – Durango?
Jo: Yes, Bizkaia – Durango has embraced Australian cyclists and has given them great opportunities to compete in the professional European peloton. My goal this year was to return to Europe and build on the experience I was exposed to last year with the Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship and the time I spent with the Australian national team.
Racing in Europe is a huge step from the Australian cycling circuit. The depth of competitive cycling in Europe, even at a local club level, in places like Belgium and Holland for example, is much larger than in Australia. I think this is due to cycling’s popularity in Europe, however I feel that this is definitely changing and there are a greater number of women taking up cycling and starting to race at a local and national level in Australia. Events like the Australian National Road Series, help to build the profile and level of women’s cycling, which is great for the sport in Australia.
GreenEDGEFans: Jo, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into cycling?
Jo: I have always been an active person, influenced strongly by my family. A memorable and defining moment for me was a family trip to New Zealand in 1999. My brother Ashleigh, my mum Jenny and dad Gerard, set off from Australia for a month’s holiday, cycling around the North and South Islands of New Zealand on our mountain bikes, equipped with panniers and camping gear.
It was the beginning of a passion for cycling. Both my mother and father competed in cycling events at a state level. My mum placed an impressive sixth in the Victorian Cycling Championships at he age of 37.
My competition started with triathlons in my teenage years followed by cross-country running. In 2003 I moved to Queensland and completed my nursing graduate year at Noosa Hospital, after finishing a degree in Health Science. In 2005 I represented Queensland in the National Cross Country Championships. Returning back to Melbourne in 2006, I completed my Graduate Certificate in Emergency Nursing at Royal Melbourne Hospital.
After completing my further studies and gaining some experience in the Royal Melbourne Hospital, I decided late in 2008 that I wanted to not just cycle for fitness anymore, which I had been doing since returning to Melbourne, but to take up cycling seriously and start racing.
I set my goals very high early; I wanted to represent my country and even considered the ultimate goal being the Olympics. When I made this decision I was put in contact by a friend with a cycling coach, Stuart McKenize. Stu tells a good story, that when we first met at a bakery in Carlton, Melbourne, one Saturday afternoon and after I shared my hopes and dreams he thought I was a little nuts!
From that Saturday afternoon nearly 4 years ago, Stu has been an inspiration and an amazing support. Without his guidance and knowledge; I would not be where I am today.
GreenEDGEFans: You were the 2011 Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship holder. Tell us how helpful that was to you.
Jo: Being the 2011 Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship holder was an honour and an amazing opportunity. Like most cyclists, I am also a motorist and understand both parties’ respective viewpoints. While both groups may have legitimate concerns, the safety of the cyclist is both paramount and non-negotiable. The Amy Gillett Foundation helps create dialogue between all road users, working towards avoiding the tragedy of injury and death to cyclists on our roads.
The Foundation does a tremendous job in promoting the importance of road safety nationally and globally. Tracey Gaudry, the CEO of the Foundation, herself was an amazing and very accomplished cyclist, dual Olympian, Commonwealth Games representative and ranked third in the world at the height of her career. I remember being first introduced to Tracey at the Australia Institute of Sport in 2010 and listening to her reminisce about her experiences in Europe. Having only been to New Zealand at that stage of my life, Europe seemed like an amazing, mysterious place to me and the adventure and goal of riding in the European pro-peloton was made more exciting by her experiences and stories.
GreenEDGEFans: Did the Amy Gillett Foundation Scholarship help you get a contract with Bizkaia – Durango?
Yes, the opportunity to race in Europe in 2010, as part of the scholarship definitely influenced my being offered a contract with Bizkaia – Durango, as I had gained some UCI points from my time racing there and invaluable experience.
GreenEDGEFans: GreenEDGEFans’ recent discussion about better conditions for Women cyclists has been mentioned in cycling media. What do you see as the biggest impediment to Women’s cycling gaining sponsorship dollars?
Jo: I think the biggest obstacle for women’s cycling is the lack of media coverage and promotion of the sport globally, however I think that is also partly our responsibility to promote our sport. Encouraging women to take up cycling and continuing to advertise the sport by social media, blogging and media exposure is the direction I believe we need to take.
This year we have seen the creation of women’s cycling team Specialized Lululemon. Lululemon, a well know athletic sports apparel company, I believe have helped to promote the sport and given women’s cycling a new market. We need to get other companies like Lululemon to help promote women’s cycling and share the love we have for the sport.
I also believe that races organisers could help promote women’s cycling by running events in conjunction with men’s races and also having the races on at prime time slots, bring with this spectators and interest from fans around the world.
GreenEDGEFans: What are your goals for 2012?
Jo: One of my goals, as I mentioned previously was to gain experience again in the European peloton and build on my experiences from last year. This year I am also aiming to make the Australia World Champion team in Limburg, Netherlands, in September.
GreenEDGEFans: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Jo: I would like to continue my professional cycling career for the next four years and support myself. Pursuing my cycling career, I hope to continue to learn and work towards selection to represent Australia at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
After my cycling career, I hope to start my own business as an aged care advisor; supporting aged care facilities to improve their level of care and meet the required national accreditation standards.
GreenEDGEFans: Thanks very much for your time.
Follow Jo on Twitter: @jojohoganTR or on her website http://jojohogan.posterous.com/
The Amy Gillett Foundation Website http://www.amygillett.org.au/ and twitter @amygillettfdn