Sarah, in a brand-new SheCycles post
In case you still didn’t know, SheCycles is a growing series of posts highlighting women who cycle. They’re all quite different, and all totally amazing. If you haven’t yet, do go read all the other SheCycles posts!
Sarah was born in Lincolnshire, and now lives in Northamptonshire. She’s a wife and mother who loves being outside, both cycling and running. Sarah is on Twitter, so do yourself a favour and go follow her.
Here’s Sarah, in her own words.
What does it mean to you, as a woman, to also be a cyclist, and how (if at all) do you feel it’s different from what men experience?
Cycling makes me feel strong, independent and free. I don’t personally feel it’s different to what men experience, I think it mostly depends on why you ride. Whether you are competitive with yourself and with others, or whether you ride for the freedom of being outside and to keep yourself fit, healthy and sane.
Do you feel women are treated as equals in the world of cycling, and if not, what can be done about it?
No, I don’t think they are. There’s still a long way to go, but then there’s still a long way to go in a lot of areas of life. We are getting there slowly.
What got you into cycling?
A friend suggested I try triathlon as she had just started, so we booked a race. I took lessons to learn front crawl, bought a bike and started to ride and run. No real plan. That was ten years ago, and although I only did triathlon for one year (too much kit faff) I still cycle and run, although much bigger distances now.
To you, what’s the best thing about cycling? And the worst?
Cycling is my therapy. I am lucky to live in a small town so have easy access to our beautiful countryside. The worst thing is the condition of the roads and bad drivers.
Tell us some of your cycling dreams and aspirations?
To just simply be able to continue riding my bike, whether that be in the UK or to ride in the mountains across Europe. We have just come back from cycling in Italy. We climbed Stelvio from Bormio, Gavia, Cancano (instead of The Stelvio – long story), Passo del Ghisallo and Colma di Sormano and my favourite yet Colle del Nivolet.
As a woman, what can you do to make cycling more normal, and more inclusive? And what are the biggest obstacles in your way?
Talk to more women (and their other halves) about how easy it can be to get out on the bike (once you have the confidence). I often cycle to work. I work in a primary school, and the children are always fascinated to see me in my cycling kit and want to talk to me about my bike. Women need to be seen and the more role models we have, the more it becomes the norm.
Tell us about you – what motivates you, what scares you, and what makes you happy?
Knowing I will never regret a bike ride, the outdoors, the air on my face, the view as you ride up a hill or mountain, the whizzing down the other side, the time to myself, the wildlife (and the chats with them) and the sheer amazement at what my body can actually do.
I try not to think about what scares me.
What was the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve had to face?
Juggling work, home life, family and other commitments is a challenge, but as long as I can bike or run, all is good.
How did cycling change you?
I like to think I’m a bit calmer…..
How has your cycling impacted on your family life, and your life overall?
I am very lucky that my husband also cycles and took it up at the same time. Our last four years holidays have been cycling holidays. I’m not sure we would know how to have a ‘relaxing’ holiday now. It’s a shame our 20-year-old son hasn’t ever got into cycling – he goes on a very different kind of holiday to us. I feel the fittest and the healthiest I have ever felt through my 40’s. Long may it continue through later life.
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
Whilst cycling in Mallorca we were trying to find a café we had been to earlier in the week in Muro. I found it as I rounded a corner (very slowly and only one foot clipped in) lost my balance and fell on the floor in front of a café front full of Spanish men enjoying their morning coffee. Not one got up to help the crazy English woman lying on the floor in hysterics with a bike on top of her!
I would love to go back to the Pyrenees, but to be honest, as long as I can continue to get out on my bike, all is good.
If you could change ONE thing about cycling, what would that be?
Make cycling more the norm in the UK. Better cycling infrastructure, better education of drivers and for them to be held accountable for unsafe driving.
What bike do you ride? What made you choose that one? If you have multiple bikes, which is your favourite and why?
I ride a Trek Domane SL6 which I chose after hiring one when cycling in Switzerland and France in 2020. It is a really comfortable ride for me (I’m not about speed) especially on longer rides. I still have my Fuji Supreme 2.1 which I use on the turbo trainer in the winter. I also have a Trek Marlin 7 mountain bike which is great fun to ride, but I’ve had tennis elbow for pretty much the whole of this year, so that has prevented me from enjoying that.
What advice would you offer to women who are thinking of starting to cycle, or are new cyclists?
Don’t let fear stop you doing the things you want to do – buy/borrow/hire a bike and just get out there. Wear what you want, go as little or as far as you want and just be you.