President Gilchrist shares her thoughts on International Women's Day



With today, Tuesday 8th March, marking International Women’s Day, I thought I would pause and reflect on my journey in cycling.

When I began racing, there wasn’t a professional women’s peloton. I could not even have the opportunity to dream of participating in the Olympic Games, because there were no events for women - period. I remember ‘protesting’ along with other women at the start of a major criterium because it was only five miles long! We won the protest and so they lengthened it to 10 miles.

I had the great fortune to be the Women’s Team Manager at the World University Games in Edmonton, Canada. Long story short, I met a man from the Soviet Union and after many conversations about the power of sport to transcend above politics, I received a personal invitation to attend a race in  the Soviet Union, the first time an invitation had been extended to the United States.

Excited, I contacted USA Cycling, asking, “When do I go?”. The reply: ‘You don’t. We can’t send you because you are a women.’ Right there and then, I decided to run for the board. I was successful - and so began my career on various cycling boards.

I was the first female Manager of a velodrome in the United States, and the first Chair of the American Track League. I, along with three other colleagues, started the National Collegiate Cycling Association. The foundation of collegiate cycling is the team competition, and in order to win, you needed women  on your team - strong women. There are many professional women who began their careers in collegiate cycling.

When I retired from the Alkek Velodrome, I moved to Scotland. I felt like I still had more to contribute to the sport - so I ran for the Scottish Cycling board. I had the pleasure of serving as the first female Chair of Scottish Cycling and now the first female President.

My journey has been varied, from organising my first event in Gainesville, Florida; working three Olympic Games; Commissairing at events, from local to world level; and being a proud volunteer at our local Glentress 7’s.

Upon reflection, those women that inspired me were few, simply because there were few female leaders in the sport. It amazes me that we are still having that struggle. I hope in some small way, my story and my journey can inspire others.

I shall leave you with a question and would love to hear from you - how can I help?