We’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback we had for our event last Tuesday! Thank you so much to everyone who attended, and particularly to all the speakers who came to share their stories. We were so pleased to be able to give a platform to these amazing women to showcase their amazing capacity.
All of our speakers recounted their adventures in an accessible and 100% genuine way, without giving away any hints that they were even remotely aware of just how remarkable their achievements were! Open, friendly and approachable, we had a perfect balance of encouragement, expertise, technical know-how, enthusiasm and a damn good dose of determination.
Cycling to equality – the chain that set women free
Glynis Francis kicked off our talks, tracking the development of her involvement in cycling from a young age, in a time when women were a rarity in the world of competitive cycling and how she went on to make a name for women in cycling, winning medals and becoming the (as yet undisputed) world’s fastest grandma!
Her advice to new cyclists was to surround yourself with can-do people, the only thing holding you back is yourself!
And our favourite quote of the night:
“Glynis how do you feel when you’re on a bike?”
Making cycling safe and fun
Our second speaker proved her determination before she even arrived! A part time ICU and community nurse, Kathy West jumped on a plane up from the Isle of Wight after finishing her night shift and just about made it to us in time to give her talk!
Kathy came from a Mountain Biking background and was surprised to find herself in the saddle of a roadie, but she’s certainly wasted no time in getting properly stuck in; she gave us a whistlestop tour of her cycling adventures with groups around Spain and Australia, and shared how jumping on her bike has led to a blossoming international romance!
One of the most important parts of Kathy’s talk was the importance of wearing a helmet, she’s destroyed several over the years and apparently is the butt of many helmet crash test jokes! Kathy also highlighted the importance of setting up your bike correctly as this can make the difference between a long hard slog and an enjoyable ride.
Advice to cyclists was to get out in the countryside and raise your levels of awareness – feel the elements and take a good look around you. “You’ve got to enjoy what you do”.
10 lessons I learned on the road
.Kathy’s sentiment was echoed by Liz Leakey – a freelance web designer turned adventurer – who praised the bicycle for allowing us to engage with the world around us.
After spending her twenties pursuing her career, Liz was able to go freelance and undertake a cycling adventure that would take her from New Zealand, across Asia and Europe to return to the UK. Her talk was structured around the things she learnt along the way:
- Be in the moment
- Your body can do amazing things
- Women are wherever you go
- To travel is to be rich
- Bikes are not all that special
- The world is full of kindness
- Smile and smile again
- Know thyself
- Every relationship deserves a bike ride
- Paradise is yours….
With all the trials and tribulations of such a bold undertaking, Liz found that she was not alone, recounting one particular instance when she had been taken in by a women who “just knew that I needed looking after”. The nurturing instinct is strong and we are never alone.
Woman in the workshop: the story of a reluctant mechanic
Mary Clark told how cycling has been an ever present part of her own story from day one. Brought up in a car-less household, Mary would be hard pressed not to cycle!
As she grew up, she began to engage (reluctantly) with the mechanics side, eventually leading to employment with a long stream of bicycle cooperatives beginning in Brixton – “I didn’t much care for the mechanics. I loved the bikes, & I loved the Brixton people”.
Mary didn’t particularly enjoy the experience of being a bicycle mechanic, largely because she didn’t feel like she was very good at it! However, she now works at BikeRight! as the lead mechanic, with 30 years experience under her belt where she has built her confidence to the point where she is now more than happy to claim her identity as a bike mechanic – “I am one of them, and I’m one of the best”
Thank you to all our speakers and all who attended – if you would like to feed back on this event, would be interested in hosting or participating in future events of this type, or would like to contact anyone involved, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contact form or email email@example.com!
Photos: Mike Robinson (TFGM), Liz Leakey