Riding for the ŠKODA DSI Cycling Academy has given each of us an opportunity to develop skills and work towards racing at the top of the sport, as well as becoming the best version of ourselves and empowering us as females both on and off the bike.
Cycling is pure and simple, it allows you to stay in shape, it can be tailored to any fitness level and then steadily made more challenging if you desire. It also provides you with a way to get from A to B conveniently and independently as well as a ‘feel good’ factor from being outside in the fresh air.
The benefits of taking part in regular sport on physical and mental health are vast, and we believe that cycling can offer something for everyone, be it just using your bike to commute or training to reach the top level of the sport. There are so many disciplines to suit different personalities and it’s simply about finding something in cycling that you love (for a lot of us it’s the cafe stop!). I think everyone in the Academy can attest to the benefit of having a group of supporting female friends who are as passionate about the sport as themselves.
So – something we are all individually passionate about – how can we get more women on bikes?
To get more women riding, there needs to be further opportunities to improve skill sets on the bike that will benefit confidence and bike handling skills. More women-only sessions with female coaches will provide women with an environment to meet and socialise with other cyclists and hopefully this will remove some of the barriers women feel exist when starting to ride. The coaching sessions should be fun and offer a range of different cycling disciplines, such as track, BMX, road and MTB sessions. As we have just seen from two gold medals at the 2021 Olympics in the BMX events, British women are doing inspiring things on bikes and we need to capitalise on this momentum from the games to make sure everyone has an opportunity to find their passion in cycling.
Further development of cycle infrastructure is required so everyone has the opportunity to cycle safely to their destination, especially in cities. For women to benefit from improved cycle infrastructure, we also need to be made aware that it is there; so many cycle path’s exist that are unknown to commuters that might be the decisive factor to whether someone would ride to work or take another form of transport. Workplaces and schools would benefit their employees and students with educating them on local routes to their locations. Schemes to encourage women to get on their bikes could include discounted bike servicing costs to ensure that bikes are road worthy; this sort of scheme could be something that workplaces and education providers buy into so that green transport can be prioritised, benefiting providers.
Individually, easy things to do are as simple as sharing women’s cycling events on social media or even just turning on the TV. For coverage of women’s cycling to increase, TV networks have to see a demand for it, which there certainly is. Coverage is so important because if women can’t see where cycling can take them, it becomes much harder for them to get there themselves.
Getting more women on bikes bridges the gender gap in sport; it takes confidence to get involved in a new sport or one you have not taken part in for years but cycling really is accessible for all.
We would all encourage you to take that initial leap as it gives you many exciting opportunities to meet new people, improve your fitness and evolve women’s sport.