When Kathryn Bertine was six years old, she rode her bike to kindergarten in Bronxville, NY. One morning on the way to school, the chain fell off. She reattached the chain by herself and that day in class, her teacher asked the students what they wanted to do when they grew up. Kathryn confidently, and legibly, wrote out, “I want to be a fix-it woman. I want to fix broken things.” This proclamation could not have been more prophetic.
Documentarian, professional cyclist, author of four books, founder of the Homestretch Foundation, Kathryn Bertine is the Katherine Switzer* of cycling.
Along her journey of exposing and repairing the ugly misogyny and sexism within professional women’s cycling, Kathryn experienced ordinary and extraordinary miracles. The ordinary miracles nudged her along and provided validation that she was doing the right thing. The extraordinary ones saved her life.
HALF THE ROAD is her documentary (crowdfunded via Indiegogo) on the inequalities of women’s professional cycling. It has been a literal uphill battle but Kathryn found solace within the peloton and helped create (revive) a women’s Tour de France event, “La Course by Tour de France” (you must say the entire thing…as branding with Tour de France was initially an issue and only applied to the men’s race).
“The mission of The Homestretch Foundation is to level the playing field of salary discrepancy in sport, so that female professional athletes have the same wages and equal opportunities as male professional athletes. Regardless of an athlete’s socioeconomic and/or life circumstances, we want all women to pursue their careers as athletes without compromise, inequality or injustice.”— Kathryn Bertine, Founder
Kathryn helps me close out Season 1 of Finding Joy with Kara, and I could not have selected a more ideal conversation.
We conducted our podcast recording synchronistically on #EQUALPAYDAY with Megan Rapinoe testifying on Capital Hill and the same day that the NCAA announced an investigative review of how it treats its female athletes (“March Madness” is a brand only affiliated with the men’s tournament, not the women’s). As a mom of a dual sport (rowing + soccer) D1 Big10 female badass athlete, I am all too aware of the sexism and misogyny that exists within FIFA and university sports — and inside top business schools — but I had no idea how BAD it was within the world of women’s professional cycling (think Dark Ages, folks). There is so much work to be done in the fight for equality. We are in the early stages of this long game.
I strongly encourage you to not only listen to this interview, but watch Kathryn’s documentary HALF THE ROAD, and read STAND — it’s a journey you will not regret taking with her.
* Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston marathon, at a time (1967) when men thought women couldn’t run that distance without their uterus falling out — no joke. You could not make up this level of ignorance. It’s upon her shoulders that we stand.
STAND is a powerful memoir on activism. It’s also a how-to manual for progress.