Isabella Bertold: cycling to raise awareness

Riding 1100 km in five days for ocean health

Pollution sometimes seems like the weather: everyone talks about it, but no one ever does anything about it. Isabella Bertold has decided she will do something about it. Isabella races as a professional cyclist with Factor-sponsored InstaFund Racing and as a professional sailor with the Canadian SailGP team. Combining these two sports at a professional level not only makes Isabella an extremely focused athlete, it gives her the chance to see the world up close. “It wasn’t till I was racing on the Olympic circuit for Rio that I began to realize just how bad the situation was,” Isabella explained. “I mean that water was just filled with not only plastics but whole pieces of furniture, dolls, stuffed animals. It was really a wakeup call for me. That is really what changed my focus and thinking as an individual.”

Taking action

Wanting to do her part, Isabella decided that she would convince her teams to work toward becoming carbon neutral, which InstaFund Racing has managed to do for 2022. Finding ways to run a cycling team without single-use plastics is a challenging operation, requiring a lot of planning. But she is not stopping there.

To raise awareness of just how dire the pollution issue is for ocean health, Isabella will ride 1100km in five days between Saint Tropez and Cadiz. Her ride will be bookended by two SailGP events taking place in these two locations.

“When the SailGP schedule was released and I saw that Saint Tropez and Cadiz were back to back, and the route between these two locations would largely follow the coast, I saw it as a great opportunity to engage with the greater public in a different way, and make them aware what our purchasing habits are, how they affect the coastline, why ocean and coastline health actually matters,” Isabella explained.

Love it when a plan comes together

Once Isabella decided to do this extensive ride to raise awareness, she approached her sponsors and partners to add a fundraising element to the project. It will give people a chance to bid for items provided by Isabella’s sponsors as well as the option to donate directly, the proceeds of which will go to Ocean Wise, the nonprofit organization committed to finding solutions to the world’s plastic problem.

“I’m trying to link that whole narrative in a way that is compelling, rather than just being someone saying, ‘stop using single-use plastics,’” Isabella said. “Engaging with partners like Factor meant that I could add a fundraising element to it.”

Factor Bikes will be providing Isabella with a specially designed Factor OSTRO VAM for her ride as well as a frame for her auction. “The money from the Factor bike is going to Ocean Wise to promote their programs. Particularly they have a large innovation lab around plastics and finding natural replacements for plastics,” Isabella explained.

The time and place

Isabella will be racing the SailGP event in Saint Tropez, which takes place on September 10th and 11th. The morning of the 12th she will then set off on her ride in the direction of Cadiz. Though obviously an accomplished athlete, the types of daily distances she will have to cover will definitely be a challenge for Bertold. “I know 350km in one day may not be that long of a distance for some people, but all of these days are going to be my longest days ever on the bike!” Isabella said.

With a challenging week of riding before participating in the SailGP Cadiz event, Isabella is certain to have some pretty epic tan lines by the time she finishes. “Since SailGP teams act as the racers and the pit crew, we have to be there to take down and set everything up again at the next location,” Isabella explained.

“I have a bit of wiggle room if I really need it, but in a perfect world, I can do this ride in five days, have one day just to sleep, and then be ready to go for the Cadiz race.”

The bike

To celebrate this project, Factor has been pleased to design a very special OSTRO VAM for Isabella to ride. The special edition OSTRO VAM Oceanic Edition design has been inspired by flow and movement. The colors represent the ocean water and the sky. The ocean reflects light from the sky and at the same time reveals its own color and texture from below its surface. This design is meant to represent that harmonious connection.

“The design is not only beautiful, it also fully captures the flow of the ocean, the coastline. I think the word I would use to describe it is majestic”

Though more accustomed to the fast-paced racing of the women’s professional peloton, Isabella is looking forward to using her OSTRO on this endurance-oriented challenge: “ The geometry of the bike is really a perfect fit, and I am incredibly confident on the frame. Cornering, descending, climbing. I know that anything I require the bike to do, it will excel at.”

Order yours today Starting Friday, September 17, and for a very limited time, you can place an order for your own Factor OSTRO Oceanic Edition. Simply click the link below and start the process to own this most beautiful frame with an ecological message. Factor Bikes will donate 5% of all sales of the bike to Ocean Wise non-profit organization.

You can learn more about her project and make a direct donation to Ocean Wise by visiting her website here

Follow Isabella to get the full flavor of the ride