2018’s Five Fierce Females of Oak Cliff

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

After two Half Ironman triathlons, Melanie Clancy wondered why she was dividing her training efforts instead of focusing on her strength: cycling. Now, the former University of Texas softball player competes in road and gravel races. Clancy, the content director at Roka, got her start in media at ESPN.com, where she covered rodeo and bass fishing. 

How she started cycling: I had not ridden a bike since I was a kid. My husband, at the time my boyfriend, was super into cycling and triathlons. He kept telling me I’d be really good. He kept telling me, “You’re muscular. You have the build.” The only reason I rode was to spend more time with him.  He’d leave on a Saturday morning and be gone for hours on end.

On making the change: It reminded me of what it takes to succeed in softball as a hitter. You’re constantly reading pitches and running scenarios in your mind. Cycling stoked my competitive fire, but it also brought in the intelligence. Last year I did well, but this year I started winning.

Her third place after home and work: Eno’s. We’re in the Mug Club, which is a big deal. You can find us at the bar at Eno’s. The first place we went when we got home from Peru was Eno’s. They were like, “We thought you guys were dead. We haven’t seen you in two weeks.”

What attracted her to journalism: When I was in high school, I would tell everybody I was going to become managing editor of Rolling Stone. I just always knew. I love to tell stories. When I can marry telling stories with the sports I’m passionate about, it couldn’t be more perfect.  

Her biggest athletic accomplishments: Probably finishing my second Half Ironman. There were so many elements that required so much, from conquering fear in the open-water swim to cycling and then running a half marathon afterward. I think of myself as a very average runner. I was cramping. It was so hot. The training had taken so much of my life that just to finish was emotional. I won La Primavera Lago Vista bike race. That was great. It ended in an uphill sprint, and I won by half a bike length. It was the equivalent of hitting a walk-off home run. I won the Tour of Corsicana. 

How she unwinds after a race: I’m a big fan of the post-race beer.

On pushing past the wall: When the negative thoughts creep in, I try to turn them into positive statements. You have to fight back the doubt. You have to convince yourself that you will win the race. That’s what keeps me going in the tough moments.

The best advice she’s been given: My parents used to tell me growing up that it doesn’t matter how you finished if you worked as hard as you could. I try to do that in work and sport. The one thing I can control is to work hard and the rest will play out as it’s supposed to.

My parents used to tell me growing up that it doesn’t matter how you finished if you worked as hard as you could.

On discrimination in sports and at work: In cycling, there’s always the battle of the sexes. Some guys, like my husband, don’t care. They love to see women do well. Then you have this experience called “getting chicked” when a female cyclist passes a male cyclist, and he just can’t handle it. He’s got to speed up and tries to hang with you. It’s obnoxious. I try to handle that by turning up the dial to 11 and reminding them why they got passed in the first place. I’ve definitely been in situations where I felt like men seem to be getting promoted at a faster rate for no reason. I try to handle it by being well-prepared and having this belief that cream rises to the top, eventually, if you’re patient.

How she unwinds: My husband and I camp quite a bit. We really like trying the latest microbrewery. I love to read.

Who she’d invite to dinner: Hillary Clinton. Has any woman ever been through the stereotypical sexist discrimination that she’s been through?