Happy International Women's Day!
It seems fitting that International Women's Day falls in the same week that Laura Trott wins Gold in the Scratch at the Cycling World Championships and Lizzie Armitstead wins the Strade Bianche in Italy. Unlike many other sports, women's success in cycling is equaling that of men and media coverage of female cycling events (with the exception of tennis) arguably exceeds that of any other sport.
And it is not just the record breakers who are female cyclists. After a campaign launched by British Cycling in 2013 to get 1 million more women cycling by 2020 it seems that in the last year alone around 250,000 women have taken to the saddle for both recreational cycling and commuting.
This upward curve is frankly brilliant, I love to see more people being being bitten by the cycling bug in whatever capacity they decide to adopt it. Despite this success, the main challenge is still getting women on a bike in the first place. Once you have experienced the extensive benefits of cycling - free exercise time, cheaper commute, freedom from sweaty packed trains or buses, that sense of adventure fuelled by two wheels, the extra flapjack you can sneak in at teatime and that endorphin hit from exercise it is hard not to get hooked. So if you are thinking of taking to the saddle but haven't enthusiastically swung your leg over the bars (so to speak) as yet, then how do you get involved?
Switch to the saddle this Spring - have a look at the Breeze Network, amongst other events, they support women who are a bit nervous about cycling to work. With an escort you can sign up to cycle to work together so you can learn the best routes and the safest way to cycle. They have even written their top tips for cycling to work on their website - click here to read it.
One of which is to use a pannier bag to carry your clothes and work stuff. As luck would have it, you are already in the right place for that. We have a range of pannier specifically designed for women, which cunningly don't look like panniers - view our collections here.
British Cycling is also a great source for support and routes for cycling and has all the information your need for bike events, competitions and races in case you get bitten big.
Also have a look at Sustrans, they have mapped the best routes in the country for cycling on. Traffic free, scenic and quiet they offer the best for pottering with your pedal and speeding in the saddle (not actual speeding though, that would be dangerous.)
Finally check out #thisgirlcan an initiative which started to stop the barriers women feel from starting up a new sport. If you don't have a sport at the moment this is a great place for inspiration - you'll be hill climbing in no time.
Chris Boardman recently declared that aerodynamics is more important in cycling than strength so with smaller heads, smaller shoulders and a lighter frame, its possible women are better designed for the bike. Just to be clear the second part of that sentence has no scientific back up whatsoever but isn't it great to speculate?
Whatever happens, give cycling a go this Spring. Who knows perhaps you will go from riding on the road to riding in Rio. Even Trott and Armitstead had to start somewhere!