It’s January. It’s freezing cold and sunshine is noticeable for its absence. And all of a sudden ride buddies are scarcer than hen’s teeth and we all have a hundred and one reasons not to ride. Which got me thinking about motivation – and not those fluffy #inspo mantras on social media, but what really moves us to get out on a bike. And I have come to the conclusion that is about connection – both with each other and the outdoors.
Here’s why connection matters.
This epic photograph of the legendary Tracy Moseley chatting to a young fan was shot at the Hope Women Enduro last year (thanks to Hope Tech and photographer Roo Fowler for this image!). I love it because, like all great photographs, it tells a wonderful story – and not just that girls who wear glasses (as I do) can ride bikes. I don’t know who the little girl is, but I so want to believe that she is meeting her hero here. It’s a heart melting moment of trust and friendship – and it throws up as many questions as it answers. Because it occurs to me that the little girl may not be the only person in this image who went away feeling inspired to ride: I wonder if the mighty TMo felt that too?
And it made me think – what motivates Moseley to get back on her bike when there is no race to train for? When it doesn’t really matter if she stays in by the fire instead of braving a cold mountain side? When she doesn’t really feel like it? The opportunity to be a champion to young riders like this one must be a huge incentive for her to stay awesome on a bike.
And then there is this. In 2018 ultra-cyclist Paula Regener and bikepacker Lee Craigie of The Adventure Syndicate will be working with five schools across Scotland in their Inspiring, Encouraging and Enabling Schools Project, funded by the Sporting Equality Fund. The team will use bike packing adventures to engage teenage girls and help build their self-esteem, resilience and confidence. These amazing images, stuffed with glee and achievement, capture the spirit of a previous overnight adventure that the team led. None of these girls had ever carried everything they needed on their bikes, nor cooked and slept outside before. I don’t think I have ever seen a bunch of riders who are so connected with the experience and each other.
I heard Lee and Emily Chappell from The Adventure Syndicate speak at the NEC bike show last year, and took away my own golden nugget of motivation. Endurance rider Emily explained how she keeps pushing when she’d really rather pull over to the side of the road (and, if she was me, have a sulk) by connecting with her ‘invisible peloton’ – a place to go when ‘you don’t have any strength of your own, so you start borrowing other people’s’.
It’s a wonderful concept, originally thought up by adventurer Sarah Outen, that I’d like to return to in a future post but for now, and to get me out of the door and on my bike, I’m connecting with my own invisible peloton of inspiration: absent friends, those I’d like to ride with in the future, those I can’t ride with again because they are no longer with us, and Lee, Paula, Emily, Sarah and TMo. And maybe Tom Hardy.
And the sun has come out. So I’m outta here.
Who inspires you to ride when its January and you’d really rather not bother? Let me know and, inspired by Emily and Sarah, build an invisible peloton of your own!
The Velovixen Women’s Cycling hub at the 2017 NEC Cycle Show hosted a line up of speakers (including me!) who got together to discuss what it means to be a woman who rides a bike. This is the second time I’ve spoken at the event and my talk was called ‘Get Over It’ and dealt with cycling and fear (I seem to be have become something of an expert on this!!). Here it is!
Being fully aware of the quality of the speakers on board, I made sure I arrived in good time on Saturday to catch some of the other women at the event. I’m really glad I arrived in time for the Q&A with Corrine Hall MBE, not only because I got to hold her Paralympic gold medal but also because she told us all about winning at Rio 2016 with tandem partner Lora Turnham, who is blind. Corinne explained that they weren’t expected to win their event and so she was thrilled when they crossed the line first but, due to the nature of her disability, Lora is not aware of how they have done until Corrine tells her – so her delight was doubled when she got to tell her team mate that they had won.
The gold medal chimes when you shake it, with different sounds for the silver and bronze medals to differentiate between the three.
At the end of the day I caught up with the talk by Emily Chappell and Lee Craigie from The Adventure Syndicate. They are great speakers as well as experts on adventure and distance cycling, and I loved their honesty when it came to discussing how demanding such riding can be. Emily described how she draws upon her ‘invisible peloton’ for strength when the going gets tough. This imaginary group of her friends and role models enables her to think about what these people would say to support her on the road, and draw strength from them. I love this idea and will definitely be calling upon my own invisible peloton next time I’m starting to flag.
Now here’s a quick round up of the talks from the rest of the weekend.
Friday –the first day – and the hub got off to a great start with a Q&A session with legendary mtb champion Tracey Moseley , a talk on the media coverage of women’s cycling by Laura Winter from VoxWomen and cycling presenter Rebecca Charlton, as well as a discussion between Julie Rand from Cycling UK, Diane Jeggo (who also compared throughout the event!) from Breeze and Liz Colebrook of Beaumont Cycles on ways in which women’s cycling is blooming. Finally Fran Whyte urged everyone to try CycloCross in her talk.
Saturday kicked off with a discussion ‘Beyond Selling Stuff’ with Lynne Bye, founder of Fat Lad/Lass at the Back, Judith Smith, MD of Primal Europe and Rhian Ravencroft, the founder of Theo. The Corinne Hall Q&A followed, and then Emily Chappell, Sarah Perry and Julia Tilley spoke about the ‘Le Loop’ TDF ride. After my talk Emily returned to the stage with her Adventure Syndicate partner Lee Craigie, to discuss cycling adventures.
Sunday included a talk on how cycling clubs can get it right for women, hosted by Kate Horsfall, Fran Whyte, Kay Young and Eleanor Pye. Also on stage that day were Anna Glowinski and Transcontinental riders Grace Lambert-Smith and Eleanor Ceindeg. There was a Q&A session with Jo Rowsell Shand, a talk on lower body power from Simone Dalley (Triathlon Age Group World Champion and Personal Trainer) and, last but not least, VeloVixen co-founder Liz Bingham spoke about the ‘10,000km date’ that led to the creation of VeloVixen!
I suggest you free up an evening, open a bottle of wine, and watch them all here
I know it wasn’t just me who felt that, compared to last year, there were more women at the Cycle Show (previously it has been a complete MAMIL fest!) and it was fantastic to see so many women (and men!) at the hub, listening to us and asking some great questions. Can’t wait for next year!
P.S. I’m on a public-speaking roll now…I’ll be giving a more in depth talk on Fear and MTB at Findra HQ in Innerleithen on October 12th, at 7.30 pm