Taking a glance at my book collection, it's not hard to understand why I feel compelled to travel all over the world with my bike. My reading material transports me to far flung places, and it's usually around this time of year, when the evenings are dark that I bury my nose deep into the next epic cycling adventure.
As it’s a new year, and a new decade, its likely that a you’ve been looking ahead and setting goals. Last year I set myself a goal to cycle 6000 miles by the end of the year. It was a target I missed the year before but would be my highest annual mileage ridden. I like to set an annual mileage goal as it helps me to commit to getting out regularly. This in turn helps me achieve some of my other goals around keeping fit and healthy, riding long distances and encouraging others to ride.
December 22nd is notable in my calendar for two reasons. First, it's my daughter Abi's birthday. Who knew 31 years ago that I would be doing the other notable thing, an overnight bike ride on the shortest day of the year and on a night where there were weather warnings galore?
Being a long distance cyclist was accepting that it was all I could become. Yes I could cycle a long way, and I loved to do this, but I felt I was deluding myself if I thought I could ever be even slightly competitive as a cyclist. Completing a long distance event in time, let alone a good time, was something that more capable & usually younger women did, not me. I would enter, because I liked the idea of a particular ride, and my aim was simply to complete it, hopefully in time.
So what’s change my perspective?
The strong desire to travel far away and to many different places
For as long as I can remember I have loved to travel. As a child, I would explore the local countryside, often travelling much further than my parents would have approved of. No matter what was going on in my life, my bike gave me the freedom to either escape or explore. The desire to leave the world behind for a few months, with nothing to think about other than eat, sleep, ride appeals.
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?