21st century cycling freedom for all

Two women in cycling clothes

One for the girls: more and more women are taking up cycling

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance…the picture of free, untrammelled womanhood.” — Susan B. Anthony. Campaigner for women’s rights. 1820-1906

Also found the following statement in part that was around at a similar time:

Rational dress aside, the bicycle, despite being heaped with scorn by outraged men, was consistently trumpeted by progressive women as a tool for increased freedoms. Indeed, many feminist tracts of the day frequently invoked the bicycle as a metaphor for increased self-control, with perhaps the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Frances’ Willard’s How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle (at the age of 53) being among the most famous. Similarly, the author of Bicycling for Ladies, Maria Ward, bluntly notes that “Riding the wheel, our powers are revealed to us…”.  It was precisely this sort of attitude, empowerment coupled with visions of an increasingly egalitarian future, that angered many men greatly. Simply put, the woman on wheels was a threat to the well ingrained system of practical inferiority that men had been taking advantage of for centuries, and outraged men were quick to point to the bicycle as a threat to the social order.

In the 21st century women are special no doubt and in cycling we are coming to appreciate their presence more as there is more joining in. There are many encouraging aspects to cycling that women of all ages can enter into that have not been involved in sporting activities before, making a perfect opportunity for women looking to makes some gains in their health and well being and be supporting in the cycling network/community that Bendigo has. We see the current trend on reality TV of weight loss and the kilos shed.  It would be interesting to take an account of how many kilograms of weight have been lost through cycling, it would amount to tonnes over the past few years.

Women in cycling is certainly something that has changed over the past few years. More and more we are seeing women enjoy the freedom of cycling and 3 weeks ago a breakfast was held celebrating women and their supporters in cycling. Can imagine some of the diehard cyclists rolling their eyes and saying something along the lines of don’t spoil our only bit of freedom. Yet there are many couples sharing precious time on the road and learning more that while there maybe differences and being miles apart in their thinking on many issues they can agree cycling is good for the healthy mind body and spirit. And what is good for the goose in also good for the gander.

It is not uncommon for partners making cycling a holiday or recreational time together. Some choose to allow their partners to have their own hit out amongst friends and catch up later as a group for the coffee ritual. Cycling in some sense is no different to any other sport when it comes to making it a partnership. Men and women have different skills and abilities and strengths and these need to be taken into consideration and not the expectation of partners  being able to match pedal stroke for stroke.

As men we like to look at the group sets and the lightness of the frame and wheels. Women on the other hand would be more interested in the colour of the frame and the wheels don’t really matter all that much unless the tyres colour doesn’t match. Colour co-ordination for some men is a big part of the cycling culture, where comfort and fit may well be the deciding factor for many women and yes colours are important but the branding is much less.

Men seem far more interested in the data collection of each ride where women are more content that they can register speed and distance and an average and not phased by temperature and elevation and wattage.  Men enjoy a chat on the road and can restrain from talking if required where as a group of women, speed can be compromised for the chat is as important as the ride itself.  Men are more likely to keep it to themselves they are suffering in case of feeling ashamed of failure, where as women openly express that they are feeling stressed but hang in none the less and support each other.

Like any partnerships they all require discipline and hard work other wise they would not be worthwhile relationships to be in.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing.


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