Category Archives: Why I Cycle

Celebrating women and cycling

Looking back one hundred years to when the first women were given the vote in the UK, it is worth recalling the famous words of Susan B Anthony, the US suffragist and abolitionist:

“I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood.”

At the time of the women’s suffrage movement the bicycle was a relatively modern machine and it played a huge role in the developing freedom of women. Thanks to the bicycle, women were able to travel further and faster with independence.  Women got out of the heavy layers of clothing and claustrophobic stays they had been trussed up in, as female cyclists supported the ‘rational dress’ movement and the inspiration of Amelia Bloomer and her vision for ‘divided skirts’.

For female cyclists today, the bike is still a symbol of freedom and adventure. It might not be our heavy skirts we are discarding, but embracing the joy and feelings of freedom when you can escape the office, or even the home, for a few hours of pedalling. This feeling of escapism is as strong as it ever was. The number of women cyclists in the UK has been steadily increasing, from grass roots innovations like Breeze Rides from British Cycling to the work of The Adventure Syndicate encouraging women to explore by bike. It seems there is a ground swell of inspiring women looking to share their love of cycling with others and get more women on their bikes.

Empowering women at Skedaddle…
We love hearing the stories from our many female Skedaddlers, taking on the toughest Colombian climbs, putting skills into action on the biking trails, enjoying active family holidays and cycling thousands of miles on our epic iconic journeys. We also have a great team of female guides who love getting out on their bikes and sharing their passion.

So, let’s hear it for women who ride, all around the world. Long may the bike be a vehicle for freedom, independence, friendship and adventure!

Why I Cycle: An Interview with travel journalist & broadcaster Simon Calder

Our ‘Why I Cycle’ series is a great chance to hear from a few famous pedalling enthusiasts and find out about their love for cycling! For our latest instalment we managed to convince Travel Editor of the Independent, Simon Calder, to tell us a bit more about his love for two wheels. Read on to discover more…

1. At what age did you start cycling?
On two wheels, aged four — which, as the scar on my forehead testifies, was slightly too early.

2. What inspired you to start cycling?
Being born and brought up in Crawley, from where the concept of expanding horizons looks especially appealing.

3. What do you enjoy most about cycling?
Whether you’re exploring somewhere new or just cycling to work, the pace is just right for appreciating your surroundings. You can cover a serious amount of ground (the most I’ve managed is 100 miles in a day, which nearly finished me off) or just dawdle around with family or friends. And as a practical means of getting from A to B in a city, cycling is unbeatable.

4. Is there anything you don’t enjoy about cycling?
The risk factor, which is heightened because of society’s attitudes. If an inattentive car or truck driver hits and kills a cyclist, it is termed an “accident” rather than negligence of the highest order. And I’m alarmed by the Cycle Superhighway scheme in London, which appears to involve spending tens of millions of pounds on building segregated bike paths where they’re not needed, to the annoyance of all road users in the capital, and failing to address issues at the most dangerous points for cyclists.

5. Who is your favourite person to cycle with?
Any other road user who is courteous and considerate.

6. If you could cycle with anyone (dead or alive!) who would it be?
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to try to convince him what needs to be done to improve cyclist safety in the capital to the point where families can confidently go out and enjoy the city and the perfect pace.

7. Have you ever cycled or do you plan to cycle for a particular charity?
Yes, in the late 1990s for a charity supporting disadvantaged children in Russia. The journey went from St Petersburg to the ancient capital, Novgorod — a tiny distance relative to the scale of the world’s biggest country, but still a challenge. More recently, I was on a skiing holiday in Les Deux Alpes, and the staff had organised a charity ride to Alpe d’Huez, the multi-hairpin climb. For a donation of €50 I was invited along.

8. Tell us about your number one cycling highlight?
Surviving.

9. Tell us about your favourite place to cycle?
South across Waterloo Bridge in London: not only am I on one of the world’s loveliest city river crossings, I am also only five minutes from home.

10. Finally if you could cycle anywhere in the world where would it be?
Scotland. I am cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in sections, and I still have the Kilmarnock to Aviemore and Inverness to the top end of Scotland to enjoy.

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Keen to hear more from Simon? Hear more from him via the following…

Why I Cycle: An Interview with an Olympic Gold medalist

The next in our ‘Why I Cycle‘ Series is  Olympic track medalist Steven Burke who won gold both at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Now that the hysteria of the games has calmed a little we found a few moments to find out a little bit more about his love of cycling…

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  1. At what age did you start cycling?
     I started cycling at the age of 13 at the Manchester Velodrome for a club called Eastland Velo. I used to play football before then for the local village and school teams.
  2. What inspired you to start cycling?
    My family have always been into cycling. My Mum represented Great Britain for road cycling a couple of times in the 80s, my Grandad has been a road and track cyclist since he was young and my Dad competed in Time Trial events for a while. Also, I remember watch Jason Queally win Gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 for the Kilo Time Trial on the track. That really inspired me to try track cycling.
  3. What do you enjoy most about cycling?
    The racing, especially the Team Pursuit! I enjoy the adrenaline rush just before the racing, and the satifaction after the race when it has gone well, knowing that the hard work has been worth it.
  4. Is there anything you don’t enjoy about cycling?
    The early morning training sessions because I do like a lie in at times!
  5. Who is your favourite person to cycle with?
    Chris Latham, a Bolton lad who is also in the Great Britain Cycling Team and Team Wiggins. We really get on and he always makes me laugh on rides.
  6. If you could cycle with anyone (dead or alive!) who would it be? 
     Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time!
  7.  Have you ever cycled or do you plan to cycle for a particular charity?
    I have never really had the chance before because of training and racing commitments. However, I would love to help raise money for Pendleside Hospice in Burnley. My girlfriend Katie sadly lost her Mother early this year so I’ve seen first hand what wonderful work the hospice does.
  8. Tell us about your number one cycling highlight?
    I have 2 which are joint favourites! Winning gold medals in the Team Pursuit at London 2012 and Rio 2016 breaking World Records in the process.
  9. Tell us about your favourite place to cycle?
    It would be Tuscany, Italy. I used to live there for three road seasons as a Great Britain Under 23 Academy rider. For a cyclist, the place have everything including great food, long climbs, fast decents, scenic views and mainly fantastic weather.
  10.  Finally,  if you could cycle anywhere in the world where would it be?
    I would love to have a cycling holiday some time either in the Alps or the Pyrenees, riding the famous climbs of le Tour de France. I have never trained or raced much in that area of the world being more of a track rider.