Whose Role Models?

Cycling has enjoyed a massive growth in popularity in the UK and beyond over the past few years.

More and more people are getting on their bikes. More and more people are watching cycling on TV and more and more people are following their favourite famous cyclists.

There are now a wealth of cycling role models to inspire us all to get out on our bikes or try something new on our bikes. Most folk seem to be able to name at least one famous cyclist, even if cycling is not their thing.

On the roads, first Bradley Wiggins, then Chris Froome and now Geraint Thomas realised Team Sky’s dreams by winning the Tour De France. Mark Cavendish earned himself the nickname ‘The Manx Missile’ with his phenomenal sprint finishes (Chasing Legends is still my favourite film of all times and perfect for long turbo sessions).

On the track, Sir Chris Hoy powered his way to six Olympic gold medals. After retiring from competitive cycling in 2013, he continued to provide inspiration with his series of ‘Flying Fergus’ books for children.

If adventure is your thing, then look no further than Mark Beaumont. In 2008, he broke the world record for cycling around the world and gained fame with his video diaries incorporated into the BAFTA nominated documentary, The Man Who Cycled the World. Since then he has become a household name, continuing his adventures both on and off the bike. He now has a number of books and documentaries to his name.

If it’s daredevil tricks which do it for you, then you will have heard of Danny MacAskill. Danny shot to fame in 2009 when his street trials video went viral on YouTube. He now has many more impressive videos and a book to his name.

In fact there have always been a few who stood out and gained fame with those not otherwise interested in cycling, through their cycling. Lance Armstrong being the obvious, if not always most positive example.

But these men are not my inspiration.

They are not my role models.

Where are all the inspiring women on bikes?

Why are they not household names?

I admit that I am slightly exaggerating the case. There are many well known women cyclists. Every year, Cycling UK compiles a list of 100 Women in Cycling, featuring just a few of the incredible women out there doing incredible things on or with bikes. Most of us who cycle can name women from the past or present who have inspired us. Laura Kenny and Dame Sarah Storey are becoming household names.

But what about inspiring those who have yet to give cycling a go?

What about preaching to those not yet converted?

There are some phenomenal cycling women out there  There are hundreds of them. In truth, there always were inspirational women on bikes. A quick look into the role of cycling in the suffragette movement in a real eye opener.

But it seems to me that these phenomenal women are not nearly so well known as their male counterparts. In October last year, Jenny Graham became the fastest woman to cycle around the world – an incredible achievement. So why is Jenny Graham not as widely heard of as Mark Beaumont?

These women deserve to be as well known as the Chris Hoys, Mark Beaumonts and Danny McCaskills. We need these women as role models for ourselves and our daughters.

More and more people are finding their inspiration to get on a bike. But still, the majority of these people are men and the majority of those held up as role models are men.

We need more women on bikes. We need to know about the incredible ways in which cycling has touched women’s lives. We need cycling women as role models.

So this is my plan. To  write about some of these inspirational women and tell everyone who will listen about them.

Watch this space…

10 Replies to “Whose Role Models?”

  1. A great idea – really looking forward to reading this series. A few ideas which you’ve no doubt already considered……. Lee Craigie, Emily Chappel, Jenny Graham, Karen Darke all great adventure cyclists – Isla Rowntree for her racing and revolutionising kids bikes, Sarah Storey and Laura Kenny for their competitive success and returning to it once they’ve become mothers. Beryl Burton – obviously.

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