We’ve been having lots of conversations at Blubel lately about ways we can encourage more women to feel comfortable in the saddle. Debates around the visibility and support of women’s professional cycling has been in the press a lot recently but we are curious about how we can encourage other women in everyday scenarios to ride their bikes more regularly.
The number of women cycling in comparison to men is still low. Statistics published by UK Cycling reported that in 2014, men made over three times as many cycling trips as women. In the same year, men cycled four times as many miles and the number of women that ride into work is still lower than men.
At Blubel our mission is to share the same sense of empowerment that we had as children, pedaling for our lives and having the confidence to explore. These figures all highlight that more needs to be done to encourage women to get on their bikes and benefit from the mental and physical joy that cycling can bring. The question is, what can we do?
We opened up this chat to some of our friends and influencers from the cycling world who each have their own initiatives to encourage women to ride their bikes whether it’s entering their first sportive or simply hopping on their bikes to run errands around town.
Cycling brands that represent women
Alicia Bamford, Founder of women’s cycling clothing brand community, Queen of the Mountains
This year Alicia launched her first collection of women’s performance cycling apparel, Queen of the Mountains and has built a community through regular women’s group rides
“I wanted a brand that spoke specifically to women, that put them at the forefront and that captured the emotion of cycling — that feeling of freedom and exhilaration. It is that moment when you’re almost at the top of a climb and you can sense that you’re going to make it, you can almost see the summit and taste your own personal victory, you think, ‘Wow, I think I’ve got this!’ You get tingles and goosebumps all over. The QoM philosophy is also all about challenging yourself and feeling empowered and confident to set your next personal goal. Whether that be making it up your local climb without unclipping or conquering that Mountain! We want women to feel that deep sense of satisfaction of aiming for something and going for it!”
Rose Goldman, Founder of women’s cycling brand, Victor + Leap
Rose quit her city job to start her own women’s cycling brand after identifying a new take on clothing that she felt industry needed.“I think that having more women involved in the business side of cycling – be it clothing brands, a female manager in a bike shop, visibly sponsored and supported athletes will greatly improve cycling for women. Given the ever-increasing number of women cycling it simply makes sense that their specific needs be taken into consideration. Having women in decision making positions in the cycling business community will help those needs be served. Of course, I believe clothes are an important part.
“I think that having more women involved in the business side of cycling – be it clothing brands, a female manager in a bike shop, visibly sponsored and supported athletes will greatly improve cycling for women. Given the ever increasing number of women cycling it simply makes sense that their specific needs be taken into consideration. Having women in decision making positions in the cycling business community will help those needs be served. Of course I believe clothes are an important part in improving the situation for women in cycling – otherwise I wouldn’t do what I do. To have clothes that fit properly, that perform well and give confidence is a basic need given the hours, the miles and ever changing weather conditions that cyclists deal with. To have brands show that they understand a female cyclists specific needs, that women are welcome and not just an afterthought – this will have a huge impact on improving cycling for women and getting more women out there enjoying this amazing sport.”
Joyce Brereton, Founder of women’s cycling brand, As Bold As
Joyce is the founder of As Bold As a cycling fashion range that closes the void between style and function.
“Cycling is for everyone. We need to break away from the stereotype of lycra-clad male dominated cycling pelotons. I’d love to see diverse imagery in the press of women across the cycling spectrum: from dropping their kids to school to mountain biking with friends.”
Training and technique coaching for female cyclists
Jim Styrin, Co-founder of On The Rivet and British Cycling Coach
Jim and his wife, Debs are the founders of On The Rivet. They host luxury cycling retreats in rolling hills of Dorset and last year they introduced a women-specific weekend.
“We wanted to create a retreat where women can improve technical aspects of their riding, but most of all build confidence in their skills”. We set up the women only retreats after listening to our female guests who told us that the group dynamics of all women compared to mixed and male were completely different. Women riding in a group tend to be more supportive and relaxed. It is noticeable to us how encouraging women tend to be of each other. It’s great for us to be able to offer this environment to women and we find that confidence tends to grow very quickly. Our women leave fired up and ready to take on more challenges.”
Influencers in women’s cycling changing perceptions
Kitty Pemberton Platt, cycling influencer and social media manager at Rapha
A well as working with the renowned British cycling clothing brand, Rapha, Kitty documents her own rides through her beautiful photography on her website and Instagram channel.
“When I started riding, my mind held me back more than my legs. The industry can move mountains but it will be when our mindsets shift – to finding inner courage, excitement, questioning thoughts, being ok with not being ok on a ride – that female cycling will change for good. Let’s house somewhere online that gives accessibility and profiles to different female riders. From professional to the everyday rider, everyone has experience, stories and insights that, when shared, could positively change someone’s cycling journey for the better.”