What Is Women’s Cycling?
I started writing ‘What Is Women’s Cycling’ earlier this week. Then I deleted it all and started again.
I wanted to write about the issues around women’s cycling, but I found that I had gone off on a ramble about how the majority of people I see on bikes are men. Cycle clubs are male dominated. Professional women cyclists have been – and frequently still are – treated appallingly. Cycling magazines and websites are filled with images of men. Bike shops dedicate the majority of their space to men’s kit.
With a scattering of statistics and links, and plenty of ranting, on I went.
Then I realised I hadn’t mentioned women’s mountain biking, or female bike mechanics, or coaching by and for women. How was I ever going to cover all of that?
That was when I stopped writing.
Because that wasn’t what I wanted to write.
It is nothing new that cycling is male dominated. There are now moves from most cycling organisations to promote ‘women’s cycling’. A quick google will give you plenty of women’s cycling pages. This seems like a step forward (however small). ‘Woman’s cycling’ has become a commonly used term. I have a whole section of my own website headed ‘women’s cycling’.
With the Covid-19 lockdown, lots of organisations have got creative and set up webinars and online panel discussions, which is brilliant. I am involved in a few myself. I was asked by one organisation if I would like to run a webinar, and I immediately replied that I would love to do one about women’s cycling. I am passionate about getting more women cycling; leading rides for women as a Breeze Champion, organising women-only road bike coaching sessions, working with mums at my childrens’ school, and writing Mummy’s Gone A Cycle. Of course I wanted to talk about women’s cycling. Great, came the reply, let me know your angle.
The trouble was, I couldn’t think of an angle. I am a writer (an opinionated one at that), I always have something to say. But I was stumped. For days I puzzled about this and still found no answer.
That was when it occurred to me, there is no such thing as ‘women’s cycling’.
If you were asked to talk about ‘cycling’, what would you say?
The term ‘cycling’ covers so many things. Mountain biking, road cycling, track cycling, kids on bikes, adults on bikes, riding to the shops, riding over the alps, bike racing, club riding, group riding, lone riding. You get the idea.
Cycling is not one thing…it is lots of different things.
Women’s cycling is not one thing…it is lots of different things. My ‘angle’ is different depending on who I am talking to and why. That was why I couldn’t decide what my angle was – I have lots of different angles.
So, what is the difference between ‘cycling’ and ‘women’s cycling’?
Nothing. It is exactly the same thing, being done by women.
This realisation makes me wonder whether ‘women’s cycling’ is really a helpful term. It makes it sound like what we are doing is somehow different to what men do.
Women who cycle are doing the exact same thing as men who cycle, there are just fewer of us.
We are women who cycle. We are women in cycling. We are women on bikes.
We are not people who do women’s cycling.
I think I might need to update my website…