Elinor Barker: 'I wanted to showcase the sport'

When Elinor Barker was invited to guest edit an issue of Cycling Weekly magazine, she knew exactly what she wanted to achieve.

In every interview, I'm asked; "What should we do about inequality in cycling?" I'll give the same reply to you as I do to them, (or a more articulate, less breathless version than I can give on a finish line): "The best thing I can do to promote women's cycling is to be good at my job and put on a show that people want to watch. The best thing that you can do as a journalist is to report on that show. Not the inequalities, but on the racing, the drama and the action."

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This is the beginning of Elinor Barker's editorial in the March 4 edition of Cycling Weekly magazine. A special issue to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8. This statement also formed her objective and therefore became her brief to us, the staff at CW for what she wanted this edition of the magazine to be. Looking back on the experience, I wanted to know what she thought of it all.

"I really enjoyed it. I wanted to challenge the idea that when someone is given a brief to write about women's cycling that they just go straight to inequality." She said. "I wanted to actually progress the sport and showcase how exciting it is and talk about the things that really matter."

"When the request first came in, I wondered if I had enough ideas for it. After a while I thought, maybe I've got too many to fit in. There's a lot I'd like to see written about."

"I spoke a lot with team mates and friends to get a feel for things. A lot of it was what battles to fight. If there was a good article, but it didn't fit the brief, should I try and get it changed or should I go with it? The struggle was always the time. But I can be pretty happy with it."

>>>> Editor’s blog - handing over the reins

Elinor wasn't just editor for this issue. She also took on the job of interviewing double world champion Anna van der Breggen. "It was really weird actually. I did a huge amount of preparation and felt a bit like a stalker. I spent all my spare time going through Instagram or old interviews, reading up on her Wikipedia and on Pro Cycling Stats."

"I'd not had a sense of what she was like as a person, but I didn't have any expectations. And I was conscious of it being the kind of interview I've had in the past. I wanted to make sure it was a nice experience for her and for her to feel comfortable she wasn't being coerced into saying anything she didn't want to. But also I had to get interesting stories out of her. It was a fine line to walk."

"I've looked back at interviews when I've talked for 15 minutes about something and it was barely included. then I've said one little thing off hand and it's used as the headline. Now I see a little better how it works. A piece can change it's point depending on what's the most interesting thing you say."

Making Racing Happen - the women behind the race scene. A feature commissioned by Barker.

"I'm really glad I've done it. It's been the most useful work experience. I've definitely got a better feel for what goes in to making a magazine. Even just the simple things like the reason you don't put race reports in the magazine because they go online."

The March 4 issue of Cycling Weekly will be available in shops from that date. If you're staying in, shielding or self-isolating t will also be available to order online from March 4 onwards. Alternatively you can subscribe on a quarterly rate of £28.99 for 12 issues.

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Simon Richardson
Magazine editor

Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling 1989 when watching the Tour de France on Channel 4, started racing in 1995 and in 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium. During his time at CW (and Cycle Sport magazine) he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He became the 130-year-old magazine's 13th editor in 2015.