British Cycling has launched a new campaign #OneInAMillion to get one million more women on bikes by 2020. Since launching this ambition in 2013 over 800,000 women have been encouraged to take up cycling.
The campaign is looking to help, inspire and encourage women to choose cycling by tackling common misconceptions that can make it trickier to get on a bike. From concerns over safety, confidence, or simply not knowing where to go.
I am proud to be a part of this campaign and over the coming weeks will be sharing more about my experience in cycling and that of others too. I will start with a few ladies who I am grateful to for contributing to this post.
First up we have Michelle, a lady I know through an awesome group call UK Mudd Queens.
‘I took up cycling after my running buddy became injured and conned me into entering a 75 mile sportive…I didn’t even have a bike! Bike purchased I started cycling to work 2-3 time a week….deciding to do this in October wasn’t my wisest move lol
I loved it so much and cycling now takes preference over running….I had struggled with plantar for almost a year and cycling didn’t seem to affect that. I love the freedom I get from cycling, the buzz of making it to the top of that ridiculously steep hill, the time to clear my head and the cardio.
Joining the club was a massive step for me – I’m not particularly confident and needed to find a club that wasn’t elitist. Thankfully such a thing does exist and I’m so pleased I went to that first meeting. Ilkeston Cycle Club are a fantastic inclusive club, there are 70 female members in a club of 400….I think that’s pretty good! I’ve cycled to places I’d never have visited on my own, met loads of new friends and I’ve improved in both confidence and speed.
Short term I’d like to complete my first century ride and train to become a ride leader. Long term I’d like to try my hand at cyclocross, do the cycling leg of a middle distance triathlon and cycle London to Paris with the club.’
Next up is Kirstin, a genuinely lovely lady I met through a Specialized ladies ride.
‘In 2014 I lost my Dad and was beyond devastated, he was cruelly taken from us all and the hole has he left in our lives really is immeasurable. It woke me up to the fact that this really is life it’s NOT a dress rehearsal.
In 2015 I went to Dubai and did a skydive. I came back, my head filled with ideas of other crazy things I wanted to do……..Cycling definitely wasn’t one them, never entered my head, I’d hardy ridden a bike since my paper round – a very long time ago – who would?
Until one day, my line manager (a rather portly gentleman) came into work and said he’d done Ride London the previous day. 100 miles…….100! Why would anyone in their right mind do that? I turned to my friend and said “We could do that”
We went out, we bought bikes and ALL the kit and we trained. The training was tough, hills, hills and more hills, rides in the rain, rides with hangovers, sore undercarriages, you name it we probably experienced it but what kept me going was that I knew said line manager didn’t think I could do it – something he was to later admit. In July 2016 I rode London in 6 hours 16 mins. I have never looked back!
In 2017 my friend and I went to Ireland and rode the Ring of Kerry. The weather was atrocious, I’d banged on about the amazing views for weeks, poor girl she didn’t see a thing for the mist. We were cold, so cold we debated wetting ourselves just to get warm, our teeth were chattering, we couldn’t open food, our fingers struggled to change gear and brake, it really was a shocker! We got to the end had a glass or seven of Prosecco and said “what’s next?”
Next, was Lands End to John O’Groats last summer. I cannot recommend this ride highly enough. We did it with Threshold Sports and Deloitte – a phenomenal experience and I loved every single second of it (except for about ten minutes in Scotland when their shocking road surface gave me motion sickness). Like most things in life you get out what you put in. I trained like a demon, I wasn’t working, it was a glorious summer and I spent every spare minute on my bike. Mile after mile, hill after hill and back to back days on the bike. I loved the training and it absolutely paid off, I LOVED the ride. 980 miles, 52,000 feet of climbing and 9 days on the bike, fantastic and when we got to John O’Groats if someone had told me I had to ride my bike back to Cornwall I would have done.
Riding is fun, it’s not like running, running hurts! Riding is therapeutic, you can lose your head while your legs do the work. You can do anything if you put your mind to it – I did. Believe in yourself and you’re half way there.’
And last but by no means least we have the gorgeous Chantel, who I met through Havering Triathlon Club.
‘I’ve always been active and love all things sporty. I used to play netball and after a bad knee injury I had to give it up. My husband suggested I give triathlon a go. That’s where I developed my love for 2 wheels. Now I cycle at least 4 times a week and love it!
There are so many reasons why I love cycling………..It’s social, it’s good for the environment and I can eat til I drop! You get to explore places that you wouldn’t normally explore. It gives me the opportunity to be my own hero and the sense of achievement is second to none. Freedom…….to clear your mind and just have fun.
Last year I was part of an all female Tri Squad – Betty Squad. What a privilege it was to be a part of a team full of supportive, inspiring, strong and amazing women across the world. A woman can never have too many best friends and that’s exactly what they all became. It was a community of empowering women encouraging each other to do their best no matter how big or small the challenge/obstacle. I got to meet some of them at the Ironman 70.3 World Champs in South Africa. They made the week what it was. I will forever be grateful to the world of triathlon and cycling for bringing these people into my life. Why wouldn’t you carry on cycling if it means you get to meet people that enrich your life?!’
I will be adding more posts like this to inspire you and introduce some more of the lovely ladies I have met through cycling that inspire me.
More information for women who are thinking about getting on a bike for the first time can visit the British Cycling women’s hub for tips and advice on everything from the benefits of cycling, to hints and tips about how to get started.
Are you #OneInAMillion ? Why not share your story too?