In the early 19th Century, the first bicycles were developed by men, for men. Until the turn of the 20th Century, bicycles were considered only suitable for men since they couldn’t be ridden effectively sidesaddle – which was felt to be the only way that delicate ladies could ride anything! I want to pay homage to some of those early female pioneers that broke the mould and went on to spectacular achievements at a time when women were still not supposed to exerting themselves, due to it being considered too dangerous to health, and also the stars of today, that still continue to inspire and break not only women’s records, but also some of those set by men. Who says women aren’t strong?
Shortly after my PBP ride, my daughter Abi sent me a message that took me by surprise a bit... "Mum, I think I'd like to ride LEL in 2021" My response, "Blimey, you don't do things by halves, do you? Have you any idea how hard that is?" I was so proud, and then promptly set about sending her advice about all the things she would need to consider, and ways to build up her mileage and progress to the really long miles. This 'advice' was mostly unwelcome, but that's what mums do, and it's certainly what I do.
A few weeks ago I shared my story about why I simply HAD to complete PBP. Its a scary fact that IBD is on the rise in the western world, and so more and more of us are likely to be affected with this debilitating illness.
It does seems that it's possible to get around the city quickly and efficiently by public transport, today it was a tram that would take us to the Brewery. The Heineken experience is on the site of the original Amsterdam Brewery, in what is now the centre of the city. Production has now moved elsewhere, and so the original brewing tanks and stables have been turned into an 'experience' for tourists. The moment you walk in young guides, all bubbly and full of enthusiasm, are dressed in the branded black clothes with green polka dot braces, or bow ties - they are excitable in a Disney kind of way, as if we are small children waiting to see Mickey Mouse for the first time.
Today feels a little odd...we are off to Amsterdam for a few days. The land of the bicycle, and yet bikes are not the main feature of this trip. This weekend is all about running....The Amsterdam marathon to be precise.
There is significant evidence that there is a link between physical activity and improved mental health and wellbeing. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognise exercise as a treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions. I believe it's no accident that mental health charities benefit so well from charity runs and cycle rides. Running and cycling are so inclusive, and participants come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. In these worlds there genuinely is something for everyone.