LETTING OURSELVES GO – celebrating older women who ride.

From invisible to awesome! ‘Letting Ourselves Go’ at Look Mum No Hands is an event to celebrate older women who ride bikes. Here’s why, and how you can join in…

Me, aged 53 and about to ride a black run in The Alps.

I’m really excited to be part of this event which will turn the cycling spotlight on older* women who ride. I’ll be joined on the panel by Alex Feechan – mountain biker, fashion designer and founder of FINDRA who will be flying in from Innerleithen especially for the evening, and Belinda Scott, road cyclist, bike shop pro and founder of BellaVelo, a women’s cycling group based in South West London.

(*We’re not specifying a ‘minimum age’ for this event and everyone is welcome, though if you are over 40 you’ll be in good company!)

What are we hoping to achieve?

While women are generally enjoying a higher profile in cycling, older women tend to still be an invisible generation – yet many of us are out there leading active and diverse cycling lives with no intention of slowing down or taking it easy.

We’ll share ways that bike riding enhances our lives, careers and well-being, discuss barriers to participation and, of course, how to get more women’s (older) bums on saddles! From road racers and mountain bikers to the rise of e-bikers, we will also be discussing why its time to ditch the tired stereotypes and embrace the joy that comes from riding a bike, whether you choose to use it for a Gran Fondo or a trip to the shops for a pint of milk and a Kit-Kat.

What does ‘letting ourselves go?’ mean?

When it comes to older women, ‘letting yourself go’ is usually interpreted as giving up – particularly regarding appearance.

However, and in total contrast, ‘letting yourself go’ can also mean losing your inhibitions, taking risks and living for the moment. In mountain biking, ‘letting yourself go’ – at the top of a drop off,or start of a technical trail for instance – is the moment when you trust your skills  and intuition, push your boundaries, and get to relish your endorphin-pumped rad-ness as a result. Or  ‘letting yourself go’ may mean allowing yourself time to escape on a long road ride, or enjoying the moment when you take your feet off the pedals and free wheel down the road, yelling ‘Weeeeeeeee’.

So, as women who ride, ‘letting ourselves go’ certainly isn’t about giving up – instead it is about going forward and empowerment.

Want to join in?

We want to hear your experiences as an older rider too – both in terms of achievements and participation or ways in which you have struggled, as well as ways to inspire other women to ride  –  so do leave a comment below as every story helps us to create a more inspiring and complete picture.  On the night we will be opening up the discussion to the audience too, and if you can’t get to London then the event will also be shared on Facebook Live via the LMNH FB page and you can comment there.

I hope you can to join us!

Letting Ourselves Go – 7pm on April 5th at Look Mum No Hands! 49 Old Street, London, SE1.

Entry is free but spaces are limited so you do need to register here

 

 

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23 comments

  1. Sarah Wakefield

    Hi there! I started mountain biking at 39yrs old. I’m now 44 yrs old and have never felt better! I run a busy Facebook group for female riders called mtb divas and have just set up my own guided riding business for women called mountains and memories. Mountain biking has changed my life. I am also a mum of three and my biking is the only thing that keeps me sane😁😁

    Like

  2. Louise Parker

    After a dozen or so accident-free years of commuter cycling in London, I have had two nasty accidents in the past year that have kept me off the bike for over 6 months at a time. When the driver has stopped, I haven’t yelled and screamed at them, I have simply pointed out that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all have to look out for each other on London’s roads. I am not a victim, and will hopefully be back on my bike after 6 months of rehab.

    Like

  3. Jacqui

    I’m 46 and got my first road bike about five years ago (second hand and dated from the 80’s). Since then there has been no stopping me. I now have a Liv Beliv2 and every year for the last three years have celebrated my birthday by cycling 100km in a day. Last year, with my husband and two friends, I also cycled a six-day, 450km charity bike ride in France. I have epilepsy, so have to be careful about overdoing it and always wear my polarised sunglasses when out on the bike, but I refuse to let it stop me cycling.

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  4. Cathy Debenham

    Hi Adele This sounds like a great initiative. I’m 55 and last year I ditched the desk job and qualified as a MTB leader and have set up Bike Guide Devon. My focus is on encouraging more women to give mountain biking a go and on helping them to build their confidence off road. afraid I won’t be able to get to London for the event, but will try and watch on FBLive

    Like

  5. Sandra Wills

    I am 64 and have been road cycling for around 15 years, after training for triathlons. Last year I did LEJOG and I try to ride at least 4 days per week, as well as going to the gym to swim and take part in classes. Cycling is a huge part of my life.

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  6. Angelika Stempel

    Hey there. I‘m 52 years old. I‘m from Germany, so please excuse my bad English. I‘m cycling, since I was 5 years old, but in the last ten years I did cycling in a more intensive Way. In 2006 I bought a MTB, because I disliked my „Mom goes shopping“ looking bike. I must admit, that I was too anxious to race down a hill, but I liked doing bike trips with my husband and our children. I also built bikes for my kids and I repair the familie‘s bikes. Last year I bought a cyclocrosser, so I‘m doing longer an faster bike trips the weekends. I always go to my office by bike, even it‘s snowing like today. If we have dates outside my husband and me take the cyclocrosser instead of the trekking bike. So we cacle about 5000 km the year. My problem is the clothing. I must admit I‘m fat. I wear size 18. In Germany the biggest size you can buy bike clothing is 12. I can‘t understand this really, because you can buy men’s clothing in 4XL or even in 6XL. Enjoy your biking.an

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    • adele mitchell

      Your English is much better than my German!!! It’s great to hear about your cycling adventures – and I know many women in the UK struggle to find cycling clothing that fits too. I wonder if that puts some women off cycling?

      Like

  7. Sarah Bower

    I took up road cycling at 54 and, although I have always exercised, I have bad rheumatoid arthritis affecting wrists and hands so had thought cycling was not for me. However, an excellent bike fit and supportive and encouraging husband got me out on the bike … and I love it! I am now 57 and have completed various Gran Fondos and events, including a couple of time trials. Sadly a serious crash last April set me back but I was determined to get back on my bike and still managed to complete the 7 day Haute Route Dolomites in September just 3 months after starting to ride again. It made it very special to ride this event with my husband and to cross the finish line together. Women made up less than 10% of the participants and there was a great feeling of female solidarity on completing something really challenging together. Tough events are not just for men – they’re for everyone!

    I love the fact that cycling gives you freedom and can be enjoyed by so many people in many different ways. I love the fact that I have friends of all ages who I cycle with and age is irrelevant. I love the fact I have met so many great women (and men) through cycling. I love the fact that women’s cycling is getting more and more popular and groups like Bella Velo support, inform and encourage new riders and show women all the things they can do.
    Cycling is a fantastic sport and I can’t wait to take on new challenges with other like-minded women.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sue Gardiner

    Hello I am 69 in July and I have been cycling on and off for 45 years. I have never been a long distance cyclist but me and my husband have enjoyed several cycle camping holidays, some with the children, and holidays in France with car and bikes. I just love cycling, to the shops, around the countryside and on organised charity rides. Last year I cycled up to the top of Mont Ventoux from Chalet Reynard and absolutely loved it. I do not wear lycra just ordinary clothes (but I do wear padded pants) and I would love somebody to design and sell clothing that is comfortable and not too expensive. I am really pleased that you are discussing this because older women are indeed invisible.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Greenie

    As an older rider, I don’t think about my age unless someone else mentions it, I certainly don’t feel invisible. I enjoy mountain biking, it keeps me fit, makes me smile and gets me outdoors, and I will keep doing it until I can’t! Am not sure what ‘empowering’ means in reality – it is a buzzword that is thrown around all too often in the media. The only way to address the disparity of older women in cycling is to spread the word amongst friends and acquaintances or start a group as someone else pointed out. There are plenty of lots of grass roots events around to encourage even the most timid of riders. The onus to get out and ride has to come from the individual. I think one can spend too much time talking and analysing which often doesn’t lead to action! Just ride your bike and enjoy it for as long as you can!

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  10. Angela

    Hi, I’m 43 and got into mtb 8 years ago after a skiing accident as my physio suggested something low impact for my knees like cycling, was riding DH within 6 months althoigh I’m not sure that was the intent of my physio although they have made more money from me 😂😂😂. Got into road riding for fitness and completed lands end to john o groats in 9 days last June. The only thing I find tough is that my body struggles to keep up with my ambitions but i will keep trying!!

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  11. Heather Rogers

    Hi there, I haven’t really stopped riding a bike since I got my first one aged about six! Today, I’m almost six-zero and still ride as much as I can. MTB is my first love – ride all year round in the south east. For the past few years, I’ve done a ‘big one’, last year the Trans Cambrian in mid Wales. This past year I’ve joined a road cycling club to see another side of cycling. I plan to keep going for years yet – why not? Good luck with the event – will it be recorded?

    Like

  12. Veronica Chamberlain

    Hi all, I’m 62 and a Breeze Champion in Harrow. I take women out on bikes 2-3 times a month for easy local sociable rides, as well as explorations of different parts of London. We always stop for coffee and chat and I’ve met some amazing women this way. My oldest regular rider is 76 and a lot of others are retired. We also have Mums who fit it in while the children are at school, as well as students and women who find that cycling helps their mental health. There is no age barrier to cycling! Breeze is just for women, free of charge, run by volunteers, and you can find out more on Breezebikerides.com. PS I did receive a mountain biking lesson for my 60th and I wasn’t the slowest in the class! So much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sue Giles

    I started road biking about five years ago in Dubai when I was 54. Cycling there is a bit fake like a lot of Dubai. Hundreds of kilometers of purpose built, beautifully smooth, traffic free cycle track. The first time I rode in the UK, two things were a problem. Firstly, I was much slower. Road surface, potholes, traffic etc conspired against me. Secondly, I was absolutely terrified riding on cleats in traffic. Now we live in the UK and I am still a bit apprehensive on the road bike but do go out and ride. I also have a mountain bike and living in the New Forest, tend to do more trail riding. Unfortunately, I have developed asthma late in life which impacts on my riding but hasnt stopped me yet. I might have to walk up some hills these days but still getting out there. Hope to join you on fifth but can’t commit right now.

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  14. Fiona Ridley

    Would love to be able to attend. I’m 52 and took up cycling 5 years ago. Commuting 1 day per week, then 2, 3 and 5 within a month. Then we entered a 100km sportive on our commuter bikes, I crashed 100m from the end and broke ribs. Then bought a roadie four years ago (after the smash) and built up the courage to join a club. Discovered audax. Have ridden 25 months in a row at least one Gran fondo of 100km plus. Crashed last month which broke my streak! I have done one in March so 26/27 months. I have completed 2 x 200km rides/audax and a 2 week tour of Western Scotland and islands 1200km and 15000m ascent. also completed Ride London 100 miles in 2016. I had a knee replacement at 42 and am now registered partially sighted, so I cannot drive anymore so now my bike is my main form of transport out of necessity as well. I ride through the winter (except when ice/severe gales).Had a go at mtb on holiday last September so new toy is an mtb too. My 3 daughters are grown up and after years of running a business I now have “me” time and am very selfish. Some of my antics are here http://iheartcyclinguk.blogspot.co.uk/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Zoe Westerman

    Hi Adele I first tried out track cycling at age 37, and completely fell in love with the velodrome. I’m now 41, have set up my own business, Cyclone24, which is the UK’s only 24 hour team velodrome cycling challenge and operates at a number of the UK’s velodromes and has been a platform to raise over £125,000 for charity to date. It’s safe to say that cycling has taken over my life and shows no signs of slowing down the older I get!!

    Liked by 1 person

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