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Notorious M.P.G. - the inspiration behind our latest design

Posted on January 06 2019

Woman Racing Bicycles

Coeur Sports is, at its core, all about heart and courage.

Yes – we are also about performance, function and style. And dogs and coffee and friendship, too. But the brand, the name, the mission … that's all really about inner fire and pushing past boundaries.

That's why we seem to gravitate toward people who embody these traits. We'd like to introduce you to one of these people and why she inspired our latest kit design, the MPG with its clean, retro California vibe, seen below.

Two women riding bikes

Margaret Porter Goett (known as Marge by her friends) was a fearless pioneer in women’s cycling in the late 70s and early 80s. When Marge was growing up, cycling was a far different sport than it is today. In fact, it wasn’t even really a sport at all for women. But that didn’t stop her, because she loved riding her bike SO much.

Marge said “My earliest memories are of my totally boss pink Sting-ray with a banana-seat around 2nd or 3rd grade. I raced anything that moved. When I lived in New Jersey, I rode my bike to school every day because it was faster than the bus. It became a game to see if I could beat the bus to my street.” 

In her teens, Marge would head out for all-day rides through the county, planning out routes with paper maps. She didn’t have a cycling jersey and wore a backpack. These rides prompted her to teach herself bike mechanics in case her bike broke down. One afternoon, being the resourceful independent gal she is, Marge laid out a big white sheet in the garage and took her bike entirely apart, all the way down the ball-bearings in the bottom bracket. Then, she put it all back together. And that’s how she learned to fix her bike.

“I remember the local bike shop owner, a middle aged man, looked me in the eye and said ‘I’ve seen you riding your bike through town each day on your way home from school. You ride like a guy.’ It was meant as a compliment!” recalls Marge.

In 1979, the movie Breaking Away came out and Marge was hooked. She had just been accepted to college at Stanford University in California and was determined to race bikes when she got there. But first, she had to get there….and that meant riding her bike most of the way across the country and finding a way to pay for it to boot.

“I wrote letters to Bonnie Belle saying that I was looking for some sponsorship for an all-women’s cross-country bike ride. They sent me a bunch of free product and wished me well.  Originally I was going to ride with two other female friends, then my parents said they felt we would be “safer” with a boy along. So I convinced a male friend – all 5’9”, 140 lbs of him, to come along too. Our token guy. He was so skinny and had fairly long hair. On especially hot stretches of highway, he would ride shirtless. Truckers who passed us three girls, then saw this bare-bodied guy from the back would think he was a girl riding in the nude. He got several loud truck honks. It was hilarious!” says Marge.

Kristin's Mom on a bike

Well, we love a girl made of grit and brass, and upon enrolling at Stanford, Marge immediately became one of the first two female captains of the Stanford University Cycling Team alongside Liz Newberry. The school had only created the team three years prior.

“I don’t remember any glaring chauvinism on my team. The guys were mostly great – kind of like brothers, and all of us were just fellow athletes,” says Marge. “I almost always trained with guys throughout my competitive years. There just weren’t many women around. I was really strong and wanted to be challenged.”

Back then, focus on style came from the bikes alone.  

“The bikes were the main attraction, not the riders,” says Marge. “Don Cooper, Richard Sachs, Frank Strnad – these were the names of the custom racing bike-makers whose beautiful pieces of art we rode. Yep, they were made of steel, but the welds that connected the frame tubes were intricately detailed. The components were all elegant Italian Campangolo, so perfectly engineered that our bike chains absolutely purred with each gear-change.  My first race bike was a Richard Sachs custom. This was back in 1979 – just as they were getting started.  I still have it. And I think it is so cool that my daughter, Coeur Ambassador Kristin rode it too! ☺”

Bike Racing

Marge racing for Stanford

The bikes may have been gorgeous but the tracks and races were incredibly under-developed. “I have cool memories about riding in the Norcal Track Racing Championships. The velodrome in San Jose was a beat-up, weed-strewn concrete structure. It was locked with a big chain-link fence around it. We used to drive there from Palo Alto then have one person shimmy under the fence, then pass our bikes over the top to get in to ride. Every Friday night, the local San Jose bike club opened up the fence and held Friday Night Lights track races. It was a total cycle-geek scene. I got my first endorsement from a Bianchi shop because I was dating a guy that worked there. Got my first real sponsor jersey. We all went and raced. Sometimes there were small prizes. I used to bake home-made pies as prizes for some of the races. That’s where I learned how to ride the track. I went to the US Nationals in 1981.”

Cycling clothing then was also very primitive and left a lot to be desired, especially for the women.

Woman bike racing

So itchy but still leading the pack

“Our first Standford kit was an ugly red wool jersey with a white 'S' stitched on it. It was so itchy! There was no Spandex at that time in 1979-80. I had a gigantic Bell helmet (white with red reflective strips) - there were no other color options.” Marge tells us.  “I remember driving to a seamstress in Northern CA to make all of the “official” jerseys for state championship finishers!”

That changed somewhat in 1981 when Stanford received their first nylon team jerseys white with a red diagonal stripe. It was simple. It was striking. 

Completely emptying the tank at the finish line for Stanford

Marge went on to win many races in that jersey and did her part to pave the way for female cyclists to come. Our MPG design is inspired by her and California cycling back when she was racing. 

Riding uphill on a bike

You can see the whole collection here.

So here's to you Marge. Here's to your love of cycling, your make-it-happen attitude and your ability to inspire your daughter and the rest of us gals that adore cycling.

Thanks for letting us ride your draft! 

Kristin Goett racing

Kristin Goett, Marge's daughter, regularly finishes on the podium. Apparently, the apple doesn't fall far from the speed tree