Yes, this is a post about cycling, I just wanted your attention.
Whilst Ali and I were away cycling in Majorca an email came through from the organiser of the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge. Ali had ridden it in order to raise money for Macmillan. It turned out that she had raised the most money this year, helping tip the pot total to over £500,000 over the 13 years that the event has been running. Ali was invited to attend the charity dinner and dance with Sarah Storey.
Here’s her thoughts on it……
And let’s face it, she does look rather stunning 😉
Whilst the evening was rather fun, it did highlight a few things. I know that as a team, we at the KMP are rather lucky, we’re half boys, half girls. The dinner certainly wasn’t and nor was the Fred Whitton itself. 57 out of 1370 entrants this year were women. When it came to the thank you speeches at the dinner, the Lakes Road Club we’re asked to stand and then their WIVES! Does that mean there are no women in the Lakes Road Club? It made me feel very glad that it was Ali who had raised the most money. She only began cycling when we started seeing one and other. I think she admitted later, that she realised the only way it would work was if she took up the sport! She’s achieved a lot. Also that Sarah Storey had been chosen as special guest, not just a girl but a bit of a legend too. Highly amusing to see her put the Compere in his place on a couple of occasions!
It made me wonder though, why don’t more women ride? It was really important to me that Ali had a nice bike so that it was easier for her. Yet I see couples out together and the “wife’s bike” really looks like hard work, or worse, he’s on a slinky road bike yet she gets to puff her own ears off on a squeaky mtb.
As guests we were sat with Andrew and his wife Amy. Andrew was there representing Saddleback. Now for those of you who don’t know they are one of the distributors. They distribute some rather tasty bike bling. I asked him how much of it went to women, not much was the answer. It made me quite sad. Amy rides as well, not racing, just enjoying being on a bike. Like Ali she has been introduced to cycling by getting to play on nicer bikes, she was the first one to say that some of the low spec stuff would have put her off cycling all together. Yes they’re the lucky ones who get to try, It’s hard to get shops to stock nice womens specific kit, they say there’s no market for it. How can there be a market if women don’t know it exists? That they get overly complex sales patter rather than being listened to or worse palmed off with something that may not be right for them.
An example of this is the Castelli womens range. Every now and then Ali and I treat ourselves. There’s some real thought put in by the designers. We got ourselves new cycling specific Castelli sports bras before going to Majorca (see there are bras in this post). However it’s quite a guessing game with the tape measure. How do they expect to sell it if they won’t stock it? If shops would stock good quality kit where women get a chance to try things on then it would be a start. I know it’s out there yet when shopping online it can really take some searching.
In case you’re wondering, the Castelli bras feel almost invisible, whilst offering support where you need it. There’s no harsh thick straps or chest band so when you are on the bike nothing digs in. The lower section and the back are a fine mesh so wick away sweat easily. So yes, beautifully created for riding.
We are lucky with Oli at Morvelo, every now and again an email arrives with a collection of designs for our opinion. Not just the printed designs but the structure of the garments themselves. it’s really rather fun to be a part of this. I’m really looking forward to seeing the new Autumn/Winter collections. And lets face it I’m a fussy bugger!
While Ali and I embarking on cyclocross started out as something of a giggle, it’s made me realise that we may have a chance to encourage other women who might not have thought of having a go too. Dom at Kinesis_UK designs smaller bike frames so that women get a chance to have decent bikes. Not everyone does. A friend of ours contacted us to try to find herself a 48cm CX bike. Thankfully the Five T goes down small enough and now she’s merrily about to enter her first race on it. There are new womens training days for cx coming on the 11th of November and a womens CX race on the 15th of December. We’ll both document our introduction to it.
I must admit, even after years of riding I’m still a bit scared! Scared is good though, right? C’mon then, who else is coming out to play? If I can you can too!