20 August 2018

Will She Ride Home?

Today I read a news story that made me think of someone about whom I wrote two years ago.

Then I opened my page for this blog and found that someone had left a new comment on that post.

The subject of that post was Mary Jane "Miji" Reoch, arguably the first of a generation of American female cyclists that would dominate their field during the 1970s and 1980s--and put the US on the world's racing map for the first time since the era of the six-day races.

So what brought her to mind?  Well, it was something a political figure in New Zealand did four decades after "Miji."

Well, they've both won races. Except that the ones Julie Anne Genter weren't in the peloton, or on the track or singletrack.  Rather, the races she won were decided in voting booths and ballot boxes.

Now, when I say "won", I don't mean it in the way one wins a head-to-head election in the US.  Instead, as I understand, in New Zealand's system, members of parliament are elected from lists of candidates and the ones with the most votes gain parliamentary seats.  Some of them, anyway:  Some seats are awarded proportionally by parties (New Zealanders get two votes, one for a candidate and one for a party.) and a few seats are reserved for Maori residents.

So, you can say that she won the right to become a member of Parliament, a post she holds along with those of Minister for Women as well as Associate Minister for Health and Associate Minister for Transport. All of that, one imagines, wouldn't leave her much time to train. But, still, she cycles---which brings me to what she has in common with Miji.

Well, they both continued to ride during their pregnancies.  In Miji's time, doctors were still counseling pregnant women to forego all physical activity, so continuing her training regimen was still fairly radical in the 1970s.  Today, of course, doctors are more likely to encourage pregnant women to exercise as much as they can, even if they have to modify whatever regiments they followed before.

Which brings me to something that was considered really "far-out" (to use a '70's expression) in Miji's time, and is still seen as fairly unusual today: Both women rode their bikes to the hospital where they would deliver their newborns. Yesterday, Julie Anne, who is 42 weeks pregnant, arrived at the Auckland hospital where she will be induced.  Once her child arrives, she will become the second New Zealand government official to give birth this year, following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in June.

Oh, I can offer one other cycling-related connection between Miji and Julie Anne:  They were both modest about cycling to their deliveries.  The New Zealander demurred that her route was "mostly downhill."  Donald Huschle, who left the comment on my post about Miji, recalled that, whenever anyone mentioned her ride to the delivery room, she would point out, "Well, I didn't ride home."

Now, if Julie Anne Genter--who was born and raised in the USA--can ride home, she'll've done something neither Miji nor Jacinda did.  As if she hasn't already done enough things that most people don't do!


  1. Well I guess it depends on her delivery! I had normal births with zero complications and NOTHING would get me on even the cushiest saddle in the few weeks afterwards. It was several months before I was ready to sit on a saddle and a few more months before I managed to carve out the time to go for a ride.

  2. Accordion--As I have never been pregnant, and don't think I ever will be, I will not say what anyone should or shouldn't do before, during or after a pregnancy. All I can do is to sympathize: Anyone who rides after giving birth is doing fine, in my book!