Who really inspires me to ride my bike?
A plea for diversity in marketing to women who love sport.
It may come as a surprise, but the women who inspire me to ride are not the ones that many sports brands are choosing to collaborate with. I don’t deny young, smiley, pretty girls with no commitments other than an insatiable Instagram account and a yoga mat the opportunity to make some money (and I am hoping they are actually paid, and not just given free kit). But I’d really love to see a more diverse bunch of women represented too.
Of course as I’m over 45, and apparently therefore no sports brand’s target audience, then most will not consider my point of view of any importance. Then again – and bearing in mind the sums of money some of my aged 50 plus friends are currently spending on their Alpine cycling adventures – it might be worth sitting up and taking notice.
So here goes: the women who inspire me to ride my bike are the provocateurs, the trail blazers, the mavericks, those who ‘don’t quite fit in’ but who ride their bike anyway – and have a great story to boot. I also value the way they communicate that story: great writing will never go out of fashion (enough of the feel good lifestyle quotes, please).
As an example of women who make me go ‘wow, I’ll cite Rebecca Rusch: 47 year old, multi-title winning U.S endurance mountain biker, self-titled ‘queen of pain’ and firefighter (how’s that for a job description?). She also wrote this – a letter to her former self – which is just about the pinnacle of authenticity that really only comes with age, and the last word on finding your own way forward. Interestingly Rebecca is clearly pretty heavily sponsored – perhaps there is nothing to be feared in collaborating with older athletes after all.
And then of course there is the lovely Jools Walker – cycle style blogger and The Cycle Show presenter. She’s a great communicator, 30 something, charmingly quirky, and totally authentic: you just want to be best friends with her. She’s also black – there I said it – how wonderful it would be to see the diversity that exists in cycling – be it age, gender or ethnicity – more widely represented.
I’ll also flag up Sian Roberts, mountain biker and co-owner of the fabulous Oldskool Mtb Accommodation near the Coed y Brenin trail centre (I’m share the link on the condition that you don’t book yourself in when I want to be there) who let slip, over a cup of coffee, that she had been a Welsh and UK MTB elite racer – and had persuaded key sponsors to come on board when Coed y Brenin (the first and largest trail centre in the UK) was set up. You really don’t get much more trail blazing than that.
There are loads more inspiring women riders of course. Who would you add? Let me know below – and the more diverse the better, please.
Josie Dew – she just keeps popping up! When I raced Surrey League in the 1980s she raced some of the races, and some local town centre races, and was often introduced as someone who, unusual for those days, delivered stuff using a cargo bike. Then she started popping up as a travel writer and extreme tourist, and an author in this area. Just been a interesting thread I’ve noticed all through my cycling, without particularly following her.
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Not a sports person as such, but I remember reading Dervla Murphy’s books at an impressionable age.
Yes yes yes! Thank you for saying this Adele. I feel the same and I know *so* many other women who also feel the same. The industry is nuts for not yet recognising this. Missing an amazing opportunity.
Have you heard about 90 year old Hilda who, even after a event operation, still rides her bike? She did LEJOG at 70! She’s still involved with th M&DLCA too. What an inspiration.
Lets hear more about Hilda’s story please?!
The countless ordinary women climbing back on their bikes for the first time since they were kids and loving it, in spite of the thigh burn, bursting chest and not owning any of the fancy kit.
Dermal Murphy who has been a well rounded person, adventurer, cyclist and excellent writer who doesn’t make her cycling travelogues about her prowess but about what she observes, learns and she understands her own privilege….long before it was even a word.
Tegan Philips for constantly reminding me life is all about how you interpret the adventure by bike http://unclippedadventure.com/ and for making me laugh a lot!