A new cycling film “This Rider: Jenny Tough & Emily Chappell” created with Canyon bikes takes a deeper behind-the-scenes look at these two’s accomplished cycling careers, and their real struggles facing body image. Even though these two women are incredibly impressive cyclists who have won grueling ultra-endurance races like the Transcontinental and Silk Road Mountain Race, among many others, they still have often felt overshadowed by the way they feel about their bodies – “from eating disorders to never feeling good enough”.
This Rider: Jenny Tough & Emily Chappell
Shot on a bikepacking trip that Emily & Jenny took through Slovenia, the film is a frank discussion of their real struggle, of the value of having someone to talk to, and the power of setting an example by speaking openly about this issue of body positivity.
Talking about her motivation to work on this project, Jenny said: “We realised that the thoughts plaguing our own minds were not actually unique to us – that there is a widespread problem here that should theoretically be easy to fix. We wanted to start being part of that fix.”
After years of battling with their feelings, outside influences, and societal pressures, their trip to Slovenia went beyond travelling somewhere new to ride with a friend. It was a chance for Emily and Jenny to talk about something they both experience in the hope it may help others.
“We hope that the film will start a thousand conversations and give people the space and opportunity to bring their own body issues into the light. It’s often only when you finally look the problem in the face that you start to recognise it for what it is, and for both of us, it was hearing the other person talking about her poor body image and thinking ‘but you have nothing to worry about,’ that ended up being a lightbulb moment,” said Emily.
How-To: Talking about Body Image
Canyon, Jenny & Emily also worked together to prepare a wider-reaching Discussion Guide: Body Image, geared toward both giving the cycling industry and individual cyclists a reference point to start a more informed conversation on the topic – with both discussion suggestions and further references. I wholly agree that it is something worth reading – whether you struggle with body image yourself or just want to be more mindful of the struggle of so many other cyclists – young & old, and of all gender. So, we’re resharing the Canyon doc at the link above.
After returning from riding and racing abroad, a cycling industry insider just this week recounted to me how refreshing it was to experience a cycling culture where body positivity was more prevalent than back home. It even got him really stoked about the whole idea of gravel racing, simply by seeing a community that was more accepting of riders of all shapes & sizes.
Inclusivity matters. Representation matters.
That’s it. Watch the film. Read the Guide. Be more open to others.
And feel free to follow both Emily Chappell & Jenny Tough on their inspiring adventures.