Always In Motion

Ontario Cycling Implements the Women in Cycling Steering Committee (WIC) Which Aims at Boosting Equality and Diversity in Cycling

June 3, 2022

The WIC is committed to creating a diverse, inclusive cycling experience by encouraging the development of equal opportunities for females in cycling in order to realize cycling’s full potential in Ontario. The work the Committee will take on will reflect the values of the Organization: Respect, Collaboration, Accountability, Innovation, and Excellence. Working within these values, the committee will focus on ways we can better encourage and support women of all ages and abilities to reach their cycling goals. The empowerment of all women in all areas across the community through networking, collaboration, and discussion will be a key aspect of their work. 

“I was thrilled with the overwhelming response from the community for this committee. The committee members bring a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives to the issue and will provide Ontario Cycling with an incredible opportunity to create opportunities that best align with the needs in the communities as we work on improving our gender lens in our sport.”, said Pam Julian, Ontario Cycling President & CEO. Members of the community are active members of the cycling community and will be supported by Pam Julian and 3 designated OC staff members. 

2022 WIC Members

Kelsey Bennet

Shelly Christensen

Kelsey Bennett is a leader in sport organization management and strategy for provincial and national sport organizations. She is dedicated to increasing participation and meaningful experiences in sport programming. 

Kelsey has been a member of the Wild Betty’s women’s mountain bike club as a rider and leader for almost ten years. She also loves exploring gravel roads on her drop-bar bike. 

My name is Shelly Christensen; I began my journey with competitive cycling back in 1985. It was Steve Bauer’s dad who encouraged me to race. Mr. Bauer taught at the high school I attended. There was a local high school bike race, which involved a team relay race. The participation requirements were simple there needed to be one female and three males. I say that tongue in cheek as it isn’t always simple finding women at any age willing to ride a bike, let alone race one. I was fortunate enough to be the sole female. After that, as the saying goes, the rest is history. 

I was bitten by the cycling bug. I have competed in bike racing in all categories, from junior to master’s and multiple disciplines. I love the challenge of what I can do on a bike, as the sport itself has the capacity to push your abilities above and beyond limits which you would not think is possible. 

For me, cycling is an integral part of my life; I am a nurse practitioner in a mental health and addictions program. My bike provides me with an outlet to manage the stress of providing health care in a high-needs population. My passion for cycling also includes coaching particularly for women who are new to the sport, whether it is for fun, fitness, or competition. 

Julia Farell

Michelle McCloskey

Julia Farell is an NCCP Certified coach, a secondary school science teacher, and a lover of all things two-wheeled. As a product of the outstanding 1990’s Ontario Cycling road program, Julia has had the opportunity to train with and race against Olympic athletes and National Championship winners who dominated racing in Canada at the time. 

She rose through the ranks from a young rider riding with Ziggy’s Cycling Club in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario to a member of the Elite Provincial Team, winning the Elite Road and Cross Provincial Championships 7 times. She earned silver at the Elite Road National Championships and went on to compete at the international level, racing in Europe for the Canadian National Road Team. She then founded a women’s elite trade team, Ultralink (2005-2007) and began coaching road cyclists. 

As the 2022 Ontario Women’s Road Coach for the Canada Summer Games, private coach, and director and owner of Valley Velo, Julia continues to be a driving force in promoting and supporting women’s competitive cycling in Ontario. 

Michelle McCloskey has more than a decade of experience working with various boards of directors and senior executives in the Not-for-Profit Sector. Michelle specializes in the management and development of the governance processes and procedures used to facilitate the business affairs of organizations, including the structure and balance of power between management and board. She also teaches Governance and Administration as part of the Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation program at Georgian College. On weekends, you can find her cycling on backcountry roads searching for Ontario’s best butter tart. Michelle has a Master’s in Public Administration from McMaster University and Governance Professionals of Canada designation. 

Euen O'Connor

Hannah Parish

Euen started Mountain Biking in Europe in the early 90s and continued to ride when he moved to Ontario. Over the years, he has been involved in trail building on his local trails and volunteering to support kids on MTB rides with KWCA. His teenage daughter is a very keen cyclist involved in various cycling disciplines with a passion for Downhill and Freeride. He has supported her in Downhill and Enduro racing in Ontario for the last two years. His goal in being part of this committee is to encourage and support youth involvement in the various disciplines of mountain biking. He is especially interested in supporting his daughter and other riders in the Downhill and Freeride aspect of mountain biking. 

Hannah Parish is the Director of International Strategy & Business Operations for Oura Ring and uses the pronouns she/her. Hannah is an experienced General Manager, Operator and Strategist. Her passion for strategically developing brands and leading businesses through disruptive product innovation in an integrated and ownable way has been common throughout her career. Previously the Founder of ARIV eBikes at General Motors, General Manager at Lyft, and has held senior marketing at both Specialized and Cannondale, Parish has proven expertise in bikes, sport and active transportation, especially with a global lens. 

Parish strongly supports the advancement of women in transportation, business and sport. Currently a member of the Trails and Active Transportation Committee for the Town of Collingwood, she has also donated her time to the Board of Cycling Canada, founding the Women’s Task Force there and authoring their landmark study on the state of cycling in Canada from a woman’s perspective. She has supported local charity events such as Fast and Female that keep young women in sport. She is a founding member of Club 1882, and has sat on numerous eBike and infrastructure-focused committees in North America and Europe. 

In addition to her professional experience, Parish holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from McGill University and a Masters of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business. When not working to move health and women forward, Hannah can be found on her bike or running the trails of Collingwood with her dog, Rio. 

Nancy Schmeler

Beatrice Trang

Nancy fell in love with cycling in her youth and with triathlon in 2013. After a not-so-friendly neighbour told her she could never complete an Ironman, she signed up for one of the most challenging races in North America – Ironman Lake Placid – Not only did she finish, but she beat her goal time. She has since completed several 70.3 Ironman races and Ironman Chattanooga, Mont Tremblant & Arizona, improving her time by over an hour & 45 minutes over the last seven years, Nancy finished with several age group podiums in sprint distance triathlons & cycling events. In 2022 Nancy will guide visually impaired athlete John in his 1st Ironman in Mont Tremblant. They raced several Olympic distance triathlons & Muskoka & 70.3 in 2021. Nancy is an avid road cyclist & raced with Highgate Racing – now Dig Deep Cycling & Triathlon. 

During the winter months, aside from her full-time consulting business in Commercial Real Estate & the DIG DEEP studio, Nancy can be found in Milton riding the boards at the Velodrome, where she also races in the Ontario Cycling Association O-cups, Provincials, and Nationals, she is also a tandem para pilot for visually impaired athletes! 

A certified NCCP coach in cycling and triathlon, Nancy is focused on working with new athletes and those returning to sport after a long hiatus. She has a particular interest in encouraging women to join her in the sport of cycling & triathlon. 

Elevating women’s BMX has been my main focus since I was 13 years old. With this opportunity to promote women’s cycling as a whole, I look forward to using my experience to find creative ways to get more women riding.