2007 March Woman in Media – Adele Tait

by | Mar 1, 2007

She is the editor of the popular Ride magazine, which has a dedicated reader base made up of people who cycle for fun, and to keep healthy.

But for Adele Tait her job is also her number one hobby. A cycling fanatic, Adele says finishing her first Cape Epic has been her biggest career achievement.

She is not too fond of celebrities, but is a big fan of Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich.

Adele has a no-nonsense personality with the kind of dry humour you expect from someone who works to tight deadlines, and doesn’t entertain prima donna attitudes.

She believes that women are good at endurance and older women are even better.

She’s got a thing about the gadgets and gizmos in cycling, and you might bump into her hanging around bike shops in her spare time, but don’t mention the hair!

Introducing our March Woman in Media, Ride Magazine Editor, and cycling fanatic, Adele Tait.

How long have you been editor of ride magazine?

Four years; a very long time in a cyclist’s life!

What did you do before that?

Freelance corporate journalism, and production manager for fashion shows to promote the family business… You won’t believe how many similarities there are between models and cyclists.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Rows of new bikes to try, perfect weather and a fun, challenging place to ride, your buddies drifting in and out… Hard to believe this is meant to be WORK.

More seriously, I get enormous fulfillment out of the fact that we inspire ordinary people to chase their dreams and lead better, healthier lives.

Are there many women in South Africa who work in your field?

Women make good mag editors; a lifetime of PMT is good practice for being everybody’s friend one moment, and a she-dragon who gets the job done the next.

Women in sports publications are rare, but I used to be in broadcast engineering, which is even more sexist… Everybody is just waiting for you to fall on your face and do something dumb.

Actually, women in sports publications is a growing international trend. The men are as good as we are, or better, in terms of passion, but they are not as good at managing teams, and putting nose to the grindstone when all the fun is over.

On the whole, we are cheaper too… (did I just say that?).

Who are some of the sports journalists you admire?

Jeremy Clarkson!

Actually I hate the bugger, but at a time when I was trying to find an appropriate editorial voice in a sport that is more about participation than out-and-out excellence, the Top Gear crowd proved to me that you can do very good journalism at the level of the complete yobbos, who are the target market.

If they could do that, surely I could find a way to be on a level with my crowd, who are sophisticated, but at leisure when they pick up my magazine?

What type of readers would be drawn to Ride Magazine?

I could never have imagined that working on a fairly large niche publication could be such a big responsibility, and so involving.

Mostly our readers are people who cycle for fun and to keep healthy, but they are very passionate about it. Still mostly 35+ and older male, but it is changing quite rapidly.

Tell us about your love for cycling:

Well, cycling is a perfect marriage of stuff and muscle; my two favourite things. I could never be a swimmer or a runner – no equipment to drool over.

I really get weak at the knees over machines and materials, and if there are no bike shops, I can spend hours in hardware and outdoor shops, just looking at the stuff.

Then there is the muscle and brain part. Feeding, training and sometimes tricking this meat into doing things that are pretty astonishing has got to rate as one of the most fun things you can do.

On a more philosophical level, I love the fact that a human can go, largely unsupported, for a very long way on a bike.

That allows you to see things that you miss when you walk, because it is so slow and arduous, and you also miss when you are in a car, because you are traveling too fast.

What has been your fondest career highlight so far?

Probably finishing my first (now Absa) Cape Epic. I was never much of an endurance athlete, and I was not nearly ready for it, but when my partner and I crossed that finish line after eight days, I thought I could do anything.

Of-course some of my fingers were numb for weeks, and I had not a thought in my head about what I was going to write in the race report, so it was probably the furthest I could get from being a writer, but none of the other big challenges have ever been that intense.

Which is your favourite cycle tour?

The one that I am going to do next! I really struggle not to get annoyed when people spoil things for themselves and everybody around them, when the weather is bad, or the water runs out, or the course is hard or whatever.

They rely on me to relay all their gripes, and I am invariably sitting there thinking: ‘Oh, isn’t this or that amazing’?

gsport’s theme for March is Endurance. What do you enjoy most about endurance sport?

I want the whole world to repeat after me: women are good at endurance, and older women are even better at it!!!

It frustrates the hell out of me that men are out there telling the world how tough endurance events are.

Yes, they are tough, but not so tough that those who have not tried it should not start.

The few women who compete at the more extreme endurance events are all like me.

The guys somehow want to keep people out, so they can be special, but we think far more people can be special.

There is a type of confidence that you get from doing something really hard, and managing it, and that pays dividends in the rest of your life.

How can we improve the state of women’s sport in South Africa?

Other people are taking care of the pursuit of excellence, so I want to focus on participation; getting girls and women involved in sport.

It can easily be made to look like a very selfish thing to demand time for yourself, when you can work on your fitness and your sport, and not care that someone or something has to wait until you are done, and not care what you look like while you are doing it, but there are huge rewards for everyone.

What other sports do you enjoy besides cycling?

In terms of participation, things are not looking so good; my swimming has become too terrible to enjoy, and injuries mean running is now what I do when I can’t ride.

I really like rowing, and although I am not nearly as serious about it as I used to be, I actually like going to gym and lifting some weights.

On television I am transfixed by fishing and golf, because it makes such good television; and rugby is good for a perv.

Favourite sports stars?

My work with celebrities and contact with athletes has made me really cynical about stars – someone forever has to run after them, erasing the blemishes, which we all have.

There is probably more heroism in some random guy walking his kid to school in the morning, because he can’t afford a car, than there is in someone who has talent and the good fortune of a few lucky breaks.

The last person to finish a race is often much more interesting to talk to than the winner, and I am always drawn to the flawed characters. Deeply, deeply admire Lance, but adore Jan Ullrich etc.

Favourite motto:

I am counting to ten…

What inspires you? Who are your role models?

As I said, the ordinary Joe.

Advice for aspiring women sports journalists?

Know your stuff, know it better than the men, and believe in yourself, because the rest of the world is sure as hell not going to, for a long time.

Some of my most serious critics and detractors have become goo goo ga ga embarrassing fans. Confront them. Hone your point of view against their resistance.

Best career advice you’ve received?

If there is a problem or a difficult personality, it is an opportunity.

Get in there, and hang in there. That will often give you the grit in the story.

What would be your ideal job?

This one, if we can only get past the deadline monster…

What do you love most about South Africa?

I am a staunch patriot, and prepared to accept responsibility for my country, warts and all.

It is not perfect, but we might be able to fix it, and I absolutely HATE people who leave the country and then spend their lives foul-mouthing everything and trying to justify their decision.

Bugger off and leave it alone unless you are prepared to help!

Oh, and I love the weather… Gauteng probably has some of the best weather in the world (especially indoors ha, ha), plus it pays well enough for you to be able to go somewhere nice over the weekend.

How do you relax?

Looking for the fastest line through the rocks on a downhill!

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Launched in 2006, gsport exists to enhance the commercial prospects of our women athletes, and other women in sport, by telling the inspiring story of SA women in sport. Thank you for your contribution!


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