Krys Blakemore: Creating accessibility for women in cyclocross

Apr 29, 2019
No. 22 Racing team director Krys Blakemore on expanding women's racing in New York and beyond
Krys Blakemore: Creating accessibility for women in cyclocross

In 2018, No. 22 partnered with a women’s cyclocross team now called No. 22 Racing. We’re proud to be supporting the team again in 2019. We’re continuing to profile the riders of the team on our blog and in our new newsletter, 22 Review (you can view the first issue here).

This month, we chatted with team director Krys Blakemore, the woman behind the administration of the team. She got the concept off the ground years ago after noticing a huge gap in opportunities for women racing cyclocross and continues to advocate for women in cycling by making strong connections with likeminded companies. We believed in Krys’s vision from first meeting her, and No. 22 is thrilled to continue supporting the group of grounded and passionate riders. 

In a male-dominant sport, Krys Blakemore knows firsthand how difficult it is to convince companies to invest in women’s cycling initiatives.

In 2015, while working for Rapha, Blakemore wanted to get into cyclocross racing. There were no women’s teams in the New York area, where she lived at the time, and the few co-ed teams in the area had very few women on them. Inspired by the mindset that if you want something done right, you should do it yourself, Blakemore decided to start her own cross team focused specifically on women. Now No. 22 Racing, Blakemore’s original concept was called This Team Saves Lives, named after the original title sponsor. The team just wrapped up its third year, and is thriving. 

“Companies within the cycling industry are starting to support women’s teams more in cycling, but there are still not a lot of bike sponsors interested in getting on board as the title sponsor of a women’s team,” says Blakemore. “I think a lot of them struggle to see the marketing value in supporting a women’s team, because when the request comes in they still look at it and reason that women make up a small fraction of the market they’re trying to sell to.”

She has worked hard to foster some strong relationships in the industry with brands who believe in the value of supporting a women’s team. “I really view sponsorship as a two-way street,” she explains.

A cyclocross rider since 2014, Blakemore had become familiar with the No. 22 brand after struggling to find a cyclocross bike for herself. With a small frame, she knew she needed custom geometry and was recommended No. 22 by a friend who had found exactly what they needed through a completely customized build process.

“Stereotypically, custom bikes are owned by well-off men,” laughs Blakemore. She fell in love with the No. 22 brand when she realized how diverse and unique our community is. “What I love most is that when you buy a No. 22 bike, you’re buying something that someone made. It’s not made by a machine. It’s a hand-crafted work of art, and it can be made to fit truly any rider.”

Blakemore loves the idea that a good cross bike can be made from a material as strong as titanium, not just something as potentially fragile as carbon.

“I have crashed my bike a lot, I’m not exactly the most gentle rider,” she explains. “I love that my No. 22 is ‘Krys-proof’ — I know if I crash it (which I try not to!) it’s not going to crack.”

As she works to make sure No. 22 Racing does its part to bring women’s cyclocross racing up to the same standards as men’s, Blakemore wants to continue fostering a team that encourages women to race hard but also has a family feel to it.

“It really ends up feeling like the success of the team is tied to how much we support each other personally,” she explains. “Of course there are expectations for the riders on the team, but a big goal of ours is to make racing more inclusive and welcoming in general, and so we really try to embody those characteristic within our group.”

She looks forward to another great year of riding with the team and hopes that the group continues to inspire more women to try cyclocross.

“We’re always happy to help people get started in the sport; if you see us at races, come give us a shout and introduce yourself! We’re always happy to answer any questions.”