On International Women’s Day we came together as women-who-pedal to listen to stories from 4 inspirational cyclists. Lady Pedal and MCR Women Bike collaborated to host the Women’s Cycling Stories event, albeit little different in 2021 where we met over zoom rather than over a pint.
Anna Smith, co-founder of PoWWow Pedal Power kicked off the evening with a fantastically enthusiastic talk about her love of blending pedals, people and paint to encourage more people to ‘get on yer’ bike’! Anna started cycling at a young age and hasn’t looked back – “I grew up in Oxford, and if I wanted to get somewhere, I’d get on my bike. It was such a great way to be independent.” Based in Manchester, PoW Wow Pedal Power run bike projects, community cycling events and brighten up the city with splashes of colourful art. From velodrome cycling to bike adventures with babies, joining in with MCR’s critical mass rides to pedal power sound systems, Anna’s enthusiasm for cycling is infectious. The message is loud and clear, pedalling is fun!
Danielle Riley, British Cycling Coach, Breeze tutor and women’s cycling advocate was next to share her story. Again, Danielle’s love of cycling stems from childhood – “I was the only person with a Cinelli and stabilisers!” Breeze offers fun, free bike rides for women of all abilities across the UK and Danielle trained as the very first Breeze ride leader. She found it a really rewarding experience – “I never had fears about riding my bike, but then I met people who were nervous or lacked confidence. It opened my eyes to a whole new world”. Danielle has led over 1,000 women through ride leader training and her passion for boosting people’s bike-confidence is unrivalled- “I’ve never lost my mojo for cycling!”
Next, Lora Fachie MBE, Double world champion Paralympic track and road cyclist shared her journey to cycling success. After being inspired by the tandem race at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, Lora jumped on a tandem bike – “riding through Birmingham city centre was my first ever tandem experience. The seat post was broken for the first 30 minutes of the ride, I thought something wasn’t quite right!” She quickly fell in love with tandem cycling – “I love feeling the wind on my face. Road cycling is my thing.” Lora’s passion and dedication to tandem cycling has led to her amazing success, never letting her visual impairment get in the way of achieving great things. Lora continues to train for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics, finding that the delay to the games has been a blessing in disguise by giving Lora time to rest and reinvigorate her passion for cycling. Good Luck Lora!
Last but not least, we chatted with Vera Ngosi; aspiring ultra-distance cyclist, BAME cycling advocate and tandem enthusiast. 4 years ago Vera was persuaded by her partner to try out tandem cycling and has never looked back. She jumped in at the deep end with her first adventure cycling 220 miles “suffering punctures by the dozen and sweating [her] way across Wales”. After joining a local cycling club, Vera soon realised she loved going out on group rides, but noticed a lack of diversity in the group. She reached out on social media and heard that women that looked like her loved cycling – “that gave [her] the confidence to explore cycling further”. Vera is now training for the Pan Celtic race, a 1600 mile, 100,000 ft, self-supported cycling adventure, journeying through the Celtic Nations of Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and finishing in Wales. After many turbo sessions and gym workouts, she’s “learnt a lot in such a short space of time!”. We wish Vera the best of luck and can’t wait to follow her journey.
Lady Pedal and MCR Women Bike would like to thank the wonderful ladies who joined us to share their stories, and a BIG thank you to all 63 attendees who joined the conversation. It was a great evening of stories, laughs and inspiration to get pedalling!
Written by Lily Feasby
To read more about the speaker’s projects and passions take a look at:
Anna Smith’s Pedal Power and MCRC Women Bike project MCR Women Bike | PoWWow Pedal Power (powwow-pedal-power.org.uk)
Danielle Riley’s Twitter page at Trekchick72 (@trekchick72) / Twitter and British Cycling Coaching: Coaching – British Cycling
Lora Fachie’s food blog: Blindingly Good Food – A totally blind, elite athlete’s perspective on food and nutrition
Vera Ngosi’s Instagram page: Vera on Vélo (@pedalling.to.and.fro) • Instagram photos and videos