Interview Janine

1. Who are you and when did you discover cycling?

My name is Janine and I live in Berlin. Cycling was just a substitute sport for me in the beginning; athletics and softball were my great passions. When I moved to Berlin, I met a crew I did fixed-gear road races and alleycats with.

Two years later, I was on the starting line for Red Hook Crit – probably the most famous fixie race there is. There was no separate women’s classification, but we lobbied hard and a year later there were 30 women on the start line. I guess that’s how my love of cycling started. 

2. Why do you ride a bike?

It means freedom for me. But it also means stability, independence, discipline, excitement; it gives a kick, slows me down from everyday life and, most importantly for me, offers community. 

I enjoy the connection to people I’d otherwise never meet if we didn’t share the same passion. Cycling unites people regardless of origin, age, gender, class or any other boundaries. 

3. And why is your VOTEC the perfect bike for this?

The VRC is stiff, agile, and light. In combination with the Fulcrum wheels and 34 mm Continental tyres, it rolls perfectly, is smooth offroad and much more energy-efficient. 

Riding it gives me a feeling that can best be described with music. Which song triggers feelings of joy within you? Put it on and you’ll feel as I did on my first test ride! 

4. Why should people go for a ride with you?

You’ll get some great photos of you and your bike at the end ;-). I also like to build Gravel/CX routes with little highlights and if you like, I can show you one or two technical ones. On the other hand, I’ll never turn down a relaxed ride with coffee and cake at the end. 

5. Is there one cycling experience that’s shaped you in particular?

There are many! In my first year of cycling, I was allowed to participate in the Tour de Feminine with the Berlin regional team. I had a flat tyre at kilometre 60 and then realised there were no unaffiliated support cars. So, I got kicked out on day one. That was pretty sobering.

Then there was the Bohemian Border Bash: I got my period and it was especially bad. I had zero energy and could hardly eat. Everyone assumed I wouldn’t race. But that made me even more determined – an ambition I’d only known from racing. 

So, I got on my bike regardless and rode the middle distance. And it made me so happy! I was so proud of my head and body! I was knackered, but infinitely glad I didn’t listen to others that day, but to myself.

6. What’s your perfect weekend? 

One filled with laughter, music, friends and family, trips, animals, nature, 26+ degree sunshine, a great route with cool highlights, dancing, eating, taking photos, walking or maybe just staying in bed!

7. If you could change one thing about the cycling world, what would it be and why?

So many things! For example: equal salaries and bonuses for female cyclists, and more presence in the media so young girls have more female role models. No more sexism! 

8. How could cycling be made more accessible to everyone?

Many influencers, podcasters or YouTubers are doing their best to make cycling-based topics more accessible. You can usually ask many bike influencers all kinds of questions. I also have a few ideas on this topic, but I won’t reveal them here yet.

9. If you could ride for a year without thinking about money or obligations, what would you do?

First, I’d visit friends all over the world. Then I’d ride with friends in the mountains and become a mountain goat! In winter, I’d go cross-country racing everywhere. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include summer temperatures.  

10. What do you do when you’re not on the bike?

I take photos, cook and bake vegan treats. I also love getting together with friends to play games. Otherwise, I’ve just started as an assistant in a small online marketing agency that develops clever concepts for sustainable companies and social organisations. 

11. Who’s your role model?

I don’t have a general role model – I find it difficult when you don’t know someone personally. But I find it fascinating how Marianne Vos, Wout van Aert and certain other pros perform so consistently and at what level their riding technique is. I also find Tanja Erath incredibly warm and likeable. Her path to where she is now inspired me a lot – I enjoy her podcast with Rick Zabel. 

12. What role do you see yourself playing in the VOTEC ENDEAVOR PROJECT? 

The others deliver the hard numbers and I admire them for that! I’m just here for the snacks, the fun – I have no idea! I can take pictures and have some bike skills, an Instagram account with a great appreciative community and a lot of ideas that I usually manage to implement. Rides with women are important to me because riding in an all-female group brings a different kind of energy. 

The longest I plan to ride is 200 km, an Orbit360 with a few friends, but relaxed. I don’t do ultra-endurance races, I prefer short, crisp cross races. I just don’t enjoy spending 10+ hours on the bike, except maybe on a more chilled, multi-day bikepacking trip.