Guest Blog: Chelsea Hosking on The Giro Rosa
While most loyal blog followers would be aware of my parents, Sheryn and Steven, and their penchant for following women’s cycling some might not know about my older sister, Chelsea or Chels.
Growing up I was always looking for obscure sports to play so that I had some hope of being better than Chels. As my parents still remind me, Chels was – and probably still is – more athletically talented than me. And it’s true. She was a runner. A fast runner.
So instead of trying to beat her at her own game I chose sports like rock climbing, field hockey, and eventually cycling. While Chels briefly entertained the idea of also becoming a cyclist she decided it just wasn’t for her – we joked it was because there wasn’t a lane for her to follow like in running – and I was able to breath a sigh of relief; phew I still have MY thing.
But while Chelsea didn’t become a cyclist herself she wasn’t able to escape the constant cycling discussion at dinner or the weekend trips to cycling races. And like when you are forced to watch or listen to something for a prolonged period of time she eventually developed a knowledge and interest in the sport; I often refer to her as a ‘closet cycling fan’.
In the closet or out, Chels is one of my biggest supporters and has followed me around the world on numerous occasions to cheer like a crazed Belieber (Justin Biber fan); it’s an important job, that of a groupie.
In her first guest blog Chels shares some of her favourite outfits of the Giro Rosa and why she likes following women’s cycling.
Chatter over the dinner table has always been about cycling in one form or another. Not entirely disinterested in cycling, but not as fanatical as my dear parents, I have usually sat at family dinners silently listening to names such as ‘Marianne Vos’, ‘Emma Johansson’, and ‘Giorgia Bronzini’ being passed across the table, and having little to add myself.
So when Chloe announced that I would be her ‘guest blogger’ for the Giro Rosa 2014, I wasn’t quite sure what to say. She suggested I write about ‘how to talk your way into being allowed to drive up closed roads’, or ‘what to wear to bike races in the European summer’.
This year I wasn’t required to talk us into any places we weren’t supposed to be, mum and dad managed that one on their own. But we did have another interesting encounter with local law enforcement and I kept my eye out for good outfits, and even found a few interesting ones…
This is the second time I have followed the Giro, the first being in 2009, Chloe’s first attempt.
This was her fourth start and we were hoping to see a bit less of her this time. In 2009 Chloe abandoned the race, her sprinters legs being unable to carry her over the mountains at the same pace as the experienced climbers, and she came with mum, dad and I for some R&R in Varese.
This year, now older, wiser and fitter, we were hoping to follow her all the way to the finish line in Madonna del Ghisallo. And we did. Chloe finished the Giro in 92nd place, but the place was never going to be important in such a hilly race, I’ve already mentioned her sprinters legs.
It is tiring being a groupie, the long transfers between the end of one stage and the start of the next stage, the rushed driving to get from point to point to see the girls wiz past.
It is distressing too, when you don’t quite make it to that point on time, to see the end vehicle disappearing into the distance. It is extra stressful when you add mum and dad Hosking into the mix, where you are fighting not only closed roads, and the clock to get to random points on a poorly drawn map, but also Dad’s free GPS. As Mum regularly stated, “you get what you pay for, Steven”.
One of the great things about following women’s bike racing, and in particular as a family member of one of the competitors, is that you actually get to meet some of the girls, which makes the racing even more interesting.
There are now a number of girls in the peloton I can shout out for as they zoom past. Which is brilliant because with so many girls, going at such a speed, it is easy to miss Chloe. Every time the bunch went past, mum, dad and I would look at each other “did you see her?”, sometimes all three of us did, sometimes no one did and we would all have our fingers crossed at the next point.
“The race organisers managed to lose the bunch that Chloe was riding in”
I recall one stage in 2009, mum and I couldn’t see Chloe in the bunch as they went past our viewing point, all of a sudden the ambulance flew past with its sirens blaring. Mum and I were in a complete panic until the very end of the race, convinced right until the moment we saw Chloe at the finish, that she was in that speeding ambulance.
For me though, the highlight of the 2014 Giro Rosa came during the first stage.
The race organisers managed to lose the bunch that Chloe was riding in. The final car came around the last corner and Chloe’s bunch hadn’t yet come through. The Polizia put barricades in the middle of the road, and then allowed cars to park right in the middle of the race.
We tried to explain that there was another bunch still coming, but to no avail. When the riders came around the corner, Mum ran onto the road and started dragging the barricade off it. When a police woman, still not believing that there were riders on the course, tried to stop her they became engaged in a tug of war over the barricade. It is an image that will stay with me for a long time.
All in all following the 2014 Giro Rosa was great fun. We got to chat to Olympians and World Champions. We got to see some beautiful places that we otherwise would not have gone to. And we got to see some exciting racing.
I told Chloe after the race was finished that I was exhausted and wasn’t doing the Giro next year, but I’ll probably have recovered by then.
— Chloe Hosking (@chloe_hosking) July 13, 2014
*Chelsea also wanted it to be noted that she is currently 1000 points ahead of me in our fantasy Tour de France tipping competition, le Tipping.