Yes, another SheCycles post! In case you still don’t know, SheCycles is a series of posts about completely different women, each one amazing in her own way, telling us in their own words about how cycling fits into their lives, and what it means to them. Read all the other SheCycles posts, by clicking this link.
Allow me to introduce you to Jane, who you should definitely follow on Twitter. Jane is an everyday cyclist, and cycle tourist who has cycled in some stunning locations.
What does it mean to you as a woman to be a cyclist and how do you feel it’s different from what men experience?
I’m a person who loves to get on a bike and ride, I ride solo and club rides. I’ve tried a few clubs and am happy to ride with all genders. I am not keen on segregation & all woman rides; I’d prefer all genders cycle together when not competing.
Do you feel woman are treated as equals in the world of cycling and if not what can be done?
I found it very hard to swallow when I entered my own daughter into races and realised that the prize money for the female races was less than half of that for the male races. This is for children of 12-year-old and they are being treated differently, I had no idea why and when asked I was told it was due to more boys entering the male races therefore more prize money should go to the boys, if there were more girls entering a race than the boys though this wouldn’t apply would it…? We need to keep questioning decisions made at every stage which discourages girls and females from entering the sport as it is self-perpetuating. To make statements that people don’t want to watch woman race and then watch the viewing numbers of the London Olympics track racing with Laura Trott and Joanne Rowsell
What got me into cycling?
My dad had been a keen cyclist in his youth and both my parents thought it was important life skills that I learned to ride a bike and swim. I can remember having a red and blue bike for a birthday present when I was about 6 years old and cycling up and down the street outside our home with stabilisers on the bike – eventually I learnt to balance riding on grass unaware my father wasn’t holding the saddle and I was free to go, I’ve felt free on a bike ever since. I was about 13 when I had a Bromwich from John Atkin Cycles, Coventry, my father had his old original Claud Butler frame reassembled so we could cycle together. That summer I rode 52 miles along the Fosse way to Tewksbury, dad came with me and mum drove. I then took part in one of the first London to Brighton cycle rides and did this with approx 8000 other riders, it was great fun and during the last few miles an “ole boy” rode alongside and asked when I’d last had a snack, then proceeded to tell me I’d be riding up the next hill and believe in myself, he stayed with me until the top just to make sure! waved goodbye and was on his way. I then coasted all the way into Brighton.
What is the best and the worst thing about cycling
Freedom is the best part about cycling, to go for a ride and see a lane and take myself off down the lane on a new adventure. Freedom to change direction and head somewhere else, or just make it all up as I go along without a care in the world. I cycle with a friend on a Sunday, we both belong to clubs but choose to explore and do our own rides most Sundays, I plot and plan using physical maps, write a list if it’s a new ride but otherwise remember the lanes and route I’ve picked (friend never knows if I make alterations on route though!) we both appreciate the beautiful countryside we live amongst. It’s so wonderful chatting and stopping on hills if we want to enjoy the view and sip a drink, no pressure for speed just sheer pleasure from enjoying cycling.
Drivers are unfortunately the worst part, it’s not roads that are dangerous but the drivers that use the roads that make some roads very more attractive to dangerous driving. I’m an early riser so during the summer month will use the early daylight to cycle at 5am when drivers are still in bed.
What are my cycling aspirations and dreams
I have cycled in both Cuba, Kerela, France & Majorca. My aspiration is to ride along the west coast of Portugal from Sagres to Porto, this beautiful wild coast looks tantalising to me. This was a trip that I planned to complete in March 2020 but had to cancel. I managed instead to get the train to Bristol and ride home 105 miles over two days, I have plans to do a similar trip again this year but in reverse.
I aspire to be able to get on my bike and ride when the weather is good, for as far as I like and wish. Some days now I get to do just that. The freedom of setting of and not knowing where I am going to go and which direction I might turn at a junction I find quite liberating.
The funniest thing that ever happened to me?
Not sure, but I once stopped at a large village co-op shop for a drink and then when I set off again I came across another co-op about 10 minutes later, I was surprised that there would be two co-ops within such a short distance…until I realised it was the same shop and I had ridden around in a circle
Where would you like to most go cycling?
I’m not allowed to go, but I’d love to cycle in Iran, what a fascinating country, culture and cycling a country you get to see so much more. I found cycling in India gave a very different view of Kerela than if I have been away and travelled by train or bus. Cycling through a safari park and coming across an elephant in the way is very strange experience.
One thing about cycling that you would change
Some drivers attitudes to cycling and how they treat cyclists when on the roads, we are all humans and want to get home to our families.
Which bike do you ride and why did you choice that one and if you have multiple bikes which is your favourite
I have multiple bikes for different reasons, some inherited, others gifted and one which was purchased for cyclocross and then doubles up as a touring bike, this is my genesis and in a striking blue with half mud guards and I use in the winter months. I have a hybrid handmade light weight bike that I inherited from my mum who was the same height, and it fits very well, I use this mostly for work or popping to the shops. I have an old trek that was a present some 14 years ago that I just can’t part with, very comfortable and my daughter used to race on this bike. I have a MTB which was also a present in 1990 and is now retro.
As a woman what can you do to make cycling more normal, and more inclusive?
Use a bike to get around to everyday activities, work, hobbies and local shops. If others see you using a bike it become more normal.
Tell us what motivates you, what scares you and what makes you happy.
Motivation is to have a comfortable body to live in as my cells get older, I have cycling friends who are in their mid-70s and have cycled all their lives, they keep going and are really fairing very well. I also meet those in their 80s out who keep going on rides and the happiness they exude is wonderful. What makes me happy is being able to get on my bike in the morning and head of on my bike, anywhere and then ride all day if I choose. This is something I have done recently, stopping a few times for a drink and a snack and then chatting to others around. Many lanes in England are quite all day with hardly a sole about. People write books about Forest bathing, its so easy to get a bike and ride along lanes and have countryside bathing all day long as we can crisscross over lanes and roads. Once I arrived home and looked at the clock, I realised I had been gone for over 10 hours on a solo ride. My friend asked me did I get bored, but I never had time, there was too much to think about and see whilst I was gone.
What advice would I offer to a woman who was thinking starting cycling
Keep cycling, use the bike to get around and for leisure, build up slowly. Find routes you like and people to ride with that you enjoy being with. Try out different clubs and organisation and never think you must stick with one, move on if that one isn’t for you, as each club will offers something different.
How has cycling impacted on your family life and your life overall
So many positive experiences through my life with regards to cycling, from great holidays, friendships which I have made through cycling and experiencing great rides with fellow enthusiast. I hope I have passed on my love of cycling to my daughters.