Today is International Women’s Day, and so we want to celebrate all the goodness, the progress and, of course, the people in the world of women’s cycling.
There’s a lot to talk about too.
From 2021’s inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes and the renaissance of the Tour de France Femmes, to creating better saddles for women, and increasing conversations about mental health, it is motivating to see the positive developments within the sport.
At Cyclist, we’ve hugely grown our women’s content, with buyer’s guides on the best bib tights, best saddles, best bib shorts, and best sports bras, and this is only set to grow.
We’ve interviewed some brilliantly inspiring women, from pro cyclists like Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Ellen van Dijk, and Elisa Balsamo to ultracyclist Lael Wilcox, mountain biker Evie Richards and Dame Sarah Storey, to name but a few.
There are also the women-specific issues, like cycling while pregnant, certain mental health issues and navigating training on your period, all of which are key parts of acknowledging and growing the women’s side of cycling.
We now have three full time female editorial staff at Cyclist and what better opportunity to get to know them than on International Women’s Day?
Meet the team: Emma, Charlotte and Robyn.
Emma Cole, Features writer
How did you get into cycling?
My first bike was a black mountain bike my dad picked up from a local car boot sale. My sister and I would ride up the hills behind my parents’ house, and we’d go along bridleways and footpaths. My arms would be rattling about all over the place, I loved it.
From then on it was more cycling for transport on my beloved Cannondale R1000 but then, in April 2020, I got really ill and couldn’t do any sport. When I got a bit better, I came across the Alzheimer’s Research Treble challenge through an ad on Instagram. So I set myself the challenge of running 300km, swimming 30km and cycling 1,500km in three months.
To hit my cycling target, I took a week off work and went on a 700km solo trip around the South of the UK. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but I had a real sense of purpose. All my training rides had been max 40km, and I was doing over a 100km on some days. I never even tried cycling with bags on my bike until the day I set off. Safe to say it was a real baptism of fire but it was also one of the best things I ever did.
What’s one of your favourite cycling memories?
When I did that trip, I didn’t understand fuelling and hydration. I remember day three: I had been going for about 70km, and knew I had these big hills by Eastbourne coming up but my body just wasn’t working. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and was so dehydrated and hungry. I stopped at a fish and chip shop on the side of the road and ordered a large chips with loads of salt.
I sat on a bench looking out to sea and shovelled it all into my mouth in total desperation to come back to life. I eventually got to the top of what felt like the world’s biggest mountain, and was so relieved and happy. I remember wanting to cry with happiness but I was too dehydrated I couldn’t. I rolled down into Eastbourne, literally whooping for joy, and jumped straight into the sea. It was a big day of learning.
How has writing about cycling changed the way you view the sport?
I didn’t come from a cycling background or a cycling family, and I didn’t really know anyone that cycled before I joined Cyclist, so I’ve learnt a lot and I love it. Sustainability is really important to me, as is women in cycling, and I get to share all these brilliant stories and talk about issues that matter. It is a real privilege.
Charlotte Head, Tech writer
Do you remember your first time riding a bike?
Yes, I was not confident, I was very scared. A friend of mine knew how to ride a bike and she had a little courtyard in front of her house. I remember riding around in circles and I kept falling over onto concrete, but eventually was just like, oh, I think I’ve got it now.
I also remember that we didn’t shut the gate to her driveway very often. There was a little slope that went down into the road so if you didn’t quite make the turn, which happened to me a couple times, it would be sketchy.
You now ride track too, how did you get into that and what’s it like?
I got into cycling through being a courier. That led me to track because I already knew how to do the whole riding with no gears thing. It’s just so simple, which is what I love. You feel very connected to the bike. I’ve kind of rediscovered my joy for riding outside of a velodrome so this year, I’m hoping to do some road and crit racing as well which is fun. I race for an amateur team called LDN Academy and my teammates are all roadies, so I want to be able to ride with them as well.
Who would you say is your biggest inspiration in cycling?
Katie Archibald. I love the way that she rides. She’s just so clever. But also, she’s had such a tough time. Not only through injuries but her partner, Rab Wardell, passing away. I remember he posted a set of photos on Instagram with the caption ‘what you see vs what I see’, and the first was her with all her medals, but in the second it was her entire setup of spreadsheets calculating how to ride the Madison, setting up a training tent in the living room, just that level of commitment is something I really respect.
What is your favourite aspect of cycling?
I love that I can’t do anything else while I’m doing it. I’m the kind of person that gets distracted really easily, but when I’m on the bike, it’s just you, the bike and the road. It’s my bubble. I used to work in a high stress environment for a charity and we’d have one day off a week. I got a bike and would ride for 100km in northern France using my phone as a map with a powerbank. That’s what I love about it. Just disappearing off the grid for a little bit.
Robyn Davidson, Editorial assistant
How did you end up working in cycling?
I got into track because of the 2012 Olympics. I was obsessed with Laura Kenny, Jo Rowsell-Shand and Dani King, they inspired me so much. I got so much adrenaline watching them and was glued to the TV. I wanted to try it, so googled my nearest velodrome, did a taster session, and was hooked. My parents would get up at 5am to drive me there every weekend.
I stopped in 2015 because my knee hurt and my physio said he was going to have to forcibly change the biomechanics of my leg which was obviously not a vibe.
Then I started a blog in my first year of university, mainly because Chris Froome ran up Mont Ventoux in the Tour, and it just spiralled from there.
What are your favourite disciplines?
I love road racing. There’s so much that happens, so many weird things like a horse running on the course that just wouldn’t happen in track! I love the classics, stick me in a field in Belgium with a beer and it’s all groovy.
I’m also a BMX fan, I went to the first round of the BMX Race National Series last year and got to meet Bethany Shriever – that was insane. I really enjoy watching it and have tickets for the BMX freestyle final at the Glasgow games this summer.
This year I want to get into gravel riding, it looks fun and feels safer than road riding.
Which women cyclists have inspired you?
I really look up to people who try to give back and use their platform for good. Like Jo Rowsell, she’s so kind, is a role model for people with alopecia and studies medicine.
I remember when Laura Kenny spoke about being born prematurely, she said it was something that she could have let affect her, but she didn’t and she’s competing at the highest level. I was born 10 weeks premature and her words really stuck with me. On the media side, I also really look up to Orla Chennaoui too, I think she’s brilliant.
What are you excited to see in the women’s pro side of cycling?
Everything! I am really excited to see how the Tour de France Femmes develops. I think there’s some great groundwork, but I feel like there maybe a desire to rush things. You have to nurture it first and make sure it has the potential to grow in the way the women’s peloton and the race(s) deserve.
I would also love some more iconic women’s race which aren’t attached to the men’s calendar, like some one day races which are outside of Europe, maybe in Africa. Good things are coming and it is great to be part of it.
For more dedicated women’s content, check out our women’s cycling hub
Tags: Women’s Cycling