A guest post by Adele Mitchell on why there has never been a more exciting time to be a woman cyclist.
Until now women’s cycling has almost always been an afterthought.
Go to almost any manufacturer’s site and it will be awash with enough air punching, muscle bulging machismo to induce the need for a lie down.
You’ll search with a magnifying glass to find a link through to the women’s range (somewhere near men’s thermal bib shorts or the clearance section, probably): once there your perseverance will be rewarded with a micro selection of women’s bikes with names that make you think of panty liners.
Visit a typical cycling store for some new gear and the staff will avoid direct eye contact before directing you to a changing room that’s six inches square and also home to the store vacuum cleaner.
Speak to the brands and they’ll tell you there’s very little demand for women’s gear and all we need is a hybrid and a pat on the head.
And so it goes on, from brand to brand: a whole industry that is a tumbleweed expanse of ‘not that fussed’ about female customers.
But there’s a female shaped revolution coming over the hill.
Hot on the heels of the Olympics and thanks to a community ground swell from the streets, trails and tracks, the world of cycling is starting to sit up and notice that, surprise, surpise women ride bikes too.
It’s smaller brands, often created by female cyclists who are sick of having nothing to wear, who have moved the most quickly: VeloVixen, though less than a year old, has bought together a small but diverse range of women’s cycle wear brands. Minx-girl.com offers a carefully considered handpicked selection, while Cyclechic is making inroads for the girl about town.
The hotly anticipated new women’s ride and destination range from Vulpine (‘no pink, no flowers’) is due on line any day. I’ve had a preview glimpse and have never been so excited by the sight of a contrast zip.
Meanwhile I see lots of women on the road wearing Castelli and I hope that Velobici (who make the top I’m wearing above, from the men’s range) will further expand their women’s range as they craft such beautifully made gear.
Now Adidas has also got in on the act – check out its inspirational short film about track champion Hannah Walker.
But mostly importantly women are being empowered to ride.
While there are still nowhere near as many events are around as there are for men, there is certainly a big push to get us out there.
US site Cyclofemme is promoting its second world wide women’s ride day (May 12th) to encourage women to ride. Rapha Women’s 100 on 7th July is an initiative to get thousands of women to ride 100km on the same day as the Etape du Tour. There are six women-only Cycletta, plus Stillettos On Wheels’ women-only mountain bike races and the Diva Descent series for Downhillers.
Crikey. We’ll be exhausted.
Now all we’re missing is a bear hug of recognition from the big cycling brands: so come on guys, spoil us with some lovely, aspirational product backed up with innovative marketing that speaks to women – and don’t get left behind.
Photograph by Paul Mitchell.