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influential people

If you asked them, the women on this list would probably say they’re not supposed to be here, but mostly, they’re probably too busy getting shit done to think about lists. At least one would say in no uncertain terms that she does not deserve a gold star for doing her job while also having a vagina.

I have some sympathy for this perspective that somehow it is condescending to celebrate women simply for showing up and doing a good job at what they do. And yet. The internet has an unfortunate tendency to produce influential people lists that consist entirely of men. That sends a message, if inadvertently, that women are not influential people and that women don’t belong.

Maybe we shouldn’t make lists. Maybe we should tell more stories and stop making so many lists that inevitably leave people out. I could totally get behind this idea. But as long as these lists keep appearing, I’m going to show up and Ortberg the hell out of them. (To Ortberg. Yes, this is a verb. And a mighty one.)

So, without any further hand-waving, here are some women who do things with bikes. You should know them, maybe. And say hello to them if they happen to cross your path. They are all pretty rad people. They are influential. They definitely belong.

Also, I’ve almost certainly left some awesome people out. Feel free to add them in the comments or flame me mercilessly on Twitter. I won’t mind. I might even learn something.

Elysa Walk
As the general manager of Giant Bicycles, Elysa Walk directs one of the largest – if not the largest – bike brands in the world. She got her start in the software industry before joining Giant in the human resources department. After four years at Giant, Walk became general manager in 2007. Want to know more? Read this interview by Bicycling’s Leah Flickinger.

Leah Flickinger
And who is Leah Flickinger? Leah is the executive editor of Bicycling Magazine, which makes her one of the leading members of the cycling media. With a circulation in the 600k range, Bicycling is nearly unmatched in reach when it comes to cycling print magazines. She edits features, decides photos and graphics, and helps oversee the bazillion (not an exaggeration) details that go into producing a magazine every month. Previously, Flickinger was the deputy editor at Women’s Health. (Disclosure! I work for Leah sometimes.)

Kristy Scrymgeour
First Kristy Scrymgeour was a pro bike racer. Then she turned journalist and worked for Cyclingnews. Eventually she moved on Highroad Sports, where she managed their powerhouse women’s team. As the Highroad teams grew, Scrymgeour took over as the communications manager for both the men’s and women’s teams. When HTC-Columbia folded, Scrymgeour built a new women’s team, Specialized-lululemon. Among many other prizes, the team won the world team time trial championship on three occasions. Scrymgeour’s women’s team continues with new sponsors next year. In the meantime, Scrymgeour also started a clothing company, Velocio Clothing. Because she didn’t want to get bored or anything.

Veronica Davis
The founder of Black Women Bike DC, Veronica Davis rides everywhere she can and views her bike as a path to freedom. Her inspiration for founding Black Women Bike DC came to her after a young black girl was surprised to see Davis, a black woman, riding a bike. Davis was struck by the girl’s reaction and was determined to change it by helping more black women ride. Within three years, her organization had grown to more than 700 members. Read more.

Sky Yeager
Sky Yeager is a legendary cycling product developer. You may not have ever heard her name – and in fact, she likes it that way – but among Yeager’s credits are the Bianchi PUSS, single speed. Look between the chainstays of a PUSS and you’ll find a bright-yellow sticker: 100% chick designed. Currently, Yeager is the brain behind the thoroughly stylish Shinola bikes that you’ve been drooling all over. It’s okay! I drool on them too.

Laura Weislo
Laura Weislo is the deputy editor for Cyclingnews, the go-to news site for cycling fans around the world. She got her start at CN as a production editor and moved on to head up North American coverage, before taking her current position as deputy editor. She writes, edits, and assigns stories and tries not to fall behind the infinite loop of the 24-hour news cycle. (Disclaimer! I have worked for Laura. Do I need these disclaimer things? I’m not sure. It’s not like y’all are going to sue me, right? Uh, right?)

A few more media women, while I’m at it: Nicole Formosa, managing editor, and Kristin Butcher, senior writer, at Bike Magazine; Trina Ortega, managing editor, Mountain Flyer magazine; Karen Brooks, former editor, Bicycle Times, current bicycle person at large; Molly Hurford, former editor, Cyclocross Magazine, now staff writer, Bicycling. I’m pretty certain I’m missing some names here. Okay, onward.

Erin Sprague
She has a MBA from Stanford University – yes, that Stanford University, the one in Palo Alto with the stone buildings and palm trees and prestige and stuff – and currently, Erin Sprague directs Specialized Women. Do you ride an Amira? Does your friend ride an Amira? Or maybe you’re into getting dirty and you ride a Fate. Either way, Sprague almost certainly had a hand in bringing that bike to life.

Julianne Idlet
Growing up, Julie Idlet spent many joyful days riding her bicycle. She visited Walden Pond and passed through the famous towns of Lexington and Concord. Idlet grew up, but never stopped riding. While working for a software company, she learned with dismay about the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. Weren’t kids riding bikes the way she had? It turned out they were not. In response, Idlet quit her job and founded Cycle Kids, which brings nutrition and bike safety education into schools.

Roxy Lo
When Ibis relaunched in 2005, the company had four partners: Scot Nichol, Hans Heim, Tom Morgan, and Roxy Lo. No doubt you’ve heard of Nichol, and maybe you’ve also heard of Heim. But you may not know Lo, who is an industrial designer. Love the swooping lines of the Ripley 29er? You can thank Lo next time you see her. While engineers obsess about things like making sure the tires don’t hit the chain stays and the suspension actually, well, suspends, industrial designers like Lo give your new bike the look and feel that makes you grin like a besotted idiot every time you see it. In addition to her work at Ibis, Lo has also designed for Light and Motion, Pottery Barn, and Camelback.

Elayna Caldwell
There are three big component makers in the world of cycling. This is like the holy trinity, you can probably answer this one in your sleep and then, no doubt go on at length about which one is better. Elayna Caldwell is the director of brand marketing for mountain bike at SRAM. Now I’ll go ahead and confess that I haven’t been reading the org chart at SRAM lately, but I do know that puts Caldwell pretty damn near the top of one of the biggest companies in the bike industry. Watch any good mountain bike videos lately? SRAM – and Caldwell – may well have had a hand in the funding and planning of that thing you were watching when you were supposed to be working. I promise I won’t tell your boss.

There. That really wasn’t that hard. Lists. Let’s make fewer of them. The End.

  1. Just a note that hey great response and also there was no list designation from me. That came from a comment or that the people have any particular order to them or rank. They’re all men, yep, and as a lens to the industry, that’s what was shot at Interbike. It’s who I interact with and persuaded to walk outside the show floor with me to a nice set of Palm Trees for a portrait. Bless ’em they answered interview questions too…Would love to follow up with more influencers, like the women you mention. I’ve met some of them.

    7 October 2014
    • Jen #

      If you’re interested in learning more about them, then my work here is done. :)

      8 October 2014
  2. Jen #

    A couple additions from my friends who are smarter than me:

    Ellen Johnson, senior product manager at ASI, who owns the Fuji and Breezer brands.

    Stella Yu, who founded Velo saddles in 1979.

    8 October 2014
  3. Not sure if anyone saw it but in Feb 2014, Bicycle Retailer put out a list that recognized the 50 Most Influential Women in the Bike Industry!

    from the Executive Category:
    Elysa Walk
    Sally McCoy

    from Sales & Marketing Category:
    Jennifer Boldry
    Karen Bliss
    Dorothy Nichols
    Megan Tompkins

    from the Advocacy Category:
    Jenn Dice
    Ashley Korenblat

    Smart, hardworking and powerful women changing the industry for certain!

    8 October 2014
  4. ChopperMark #

    Zapata Espinoza is not white.

    8 October 2014
    • Jen #

      Doh. You’re totally right. I’ll fix that bit. My bad.

      8 October 2014
  5. ChopperMark #

    And neither is Josh Hon.

    8 October 2014

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