As I started to take cycling more seriously at the start of this year, it was the first time I really watched/ followed cycling outside of the Tour de France and other big events such as Olympics/ Paralympics. What became apparent was the lack of coverage of women’s cycling, the disparity in prize money and the lack of women’s racing opportunities. Coming from a tennis background, where there is equal prize money and similar opportunities to compete, I had wrongly assumed that this was the case for other sports too.
I came across The Cyclist’s Alliance on social media and got in touch about doing some kind of charity event to raise money and awareness so they can continue to strive for fairness across the sport. Run by former and current pros, TCA provides holistic support to female cyclists during and after their careers. Funded purely by donations and subscriptions, their aim is to level the playing field and help the hard-working women of today’s peloton make a living from the sport. Low salaries and sexual discrimination are all barriers to be overcome. They work hard to secure fairer pay for female athletes, resolve disputes with teams, provide emotional and economic support, and elevate the appeal of women’s cycling.
On September 11th, I am riding 185km: 42.5k to the start of what is considered to be the hardest 100k loop in the UK and then riding home after! This will be my longest ride to date and with over 4500m of elevation and a lot of climbs hitting gradients of over 20%, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a hard day out for me!
If you can donate, please do so via this link. Anything you are able to contribute would be massively appreciated.
The 100k loop I am riding was a route plotted with the aim of making it the most difficult continuous loop in the UK. If you want to know more about it, check out this:
I am also riding from Wilmslow to start the loop at Hathersage. I will be releasing a tracking link on the day so if you are in the area and would like to give me a back wheel for a bit you’ll be able to find me!
However, to support women’s cycling, you don’t need to ruin your legs over the course of a day. The most important things you can do to help women’s cycling are simple:
At the moment, coverage of a lot of top women’s races is limited or non-existent. We need to make the most of the cycling that is on TV to show that there is the demand for it, and so will encourage the providers to invest in covering more women’s events. If young riders can’t see what professional racing looks like for women, it makes it so much harder for them to know how to get there.
Sharing women’s cycling on social media and interacting with posts is also important. Great things to share are when races are on and what channels they are on, as many people want to and would watch these races but aren’t aware they’re there. TCA are great with producing easy to read guides about upcoming races, and it takes less than 30 seconds to share. Small consistent efforts are key. Give them a follow on Instagram to never miss anything going on with women’s racing: https://www.instagram.com/thecyclistsalliance/?hl=en
Lastly, if you see inequality, call it out. Things like equal prize money, equal race time or even when the elite women’s race doesn’t get its own circuit time are all things we are working to change. Even if you’re not racing and say there is a lack of women in the club, try to encourage the club to promote women’s rides. Some women feel intimidated to go out riding with men who are naturally stronger and so women’s-only rides are important to get people out. The more women on bikes, the wider the talent pool becomes and the more women’s cycling culture will grow.
There are so many other women doing amazing things to promote equality in cycling. I was lucky enough to join the Internationelles (https://www.internationelles.com/home) for stage 5 of their JOGLE, a few days after they broke the relay world record for LEJOG! It was so nice to ride with them and listen to their different experiences and pathways into cycling. I’m really grateful to the work they’re doing for female cyclists like our team at the SKODA DSI Cycling Academy to make sure the right structures are in place to promote equal opportunities. I’ve now been part of the academy for 3 months and already the support we are being given is enabling me to focus and improve in races and training, I feel very lucky to have the chance to reach my potential in cycling, whatever that may be.
Sport is global platform and can be a catalyst for wider societal change which is why it is so important that the playing field is levelled in cycling, so it can thrive and serve as an example for other areas such as business and education.
Thank you for your support and I hope to see you out on your bike soon!