Shakespeare on Bikes

All of us here love bikes, and a good number of us are into theatre. But I doubt there are many who would imagine how these two passions can be related.
Last night the all female troupe of the cycle touring theatre company, the Handlebards arrived in Salford after a two day trip across the Peak District for their 27th show of this year’s tour performing Shakespeare’s “As you like it” in a charmingly chaotic fashion.


The Handlebards formed in 2012, originally as an all boys theatre troupe with a love of adventure and a “yes man” mentality and have spent the last summers since touring Shakesperian verse with props, set and character all piled onto their bicycles. As you can imagine, this will take its toll on their two wheeled steeds, so it was only natural that their bikes should get a little TLC on arrival! The BikeHive’s Jo and Lady Pedal’s Hannah got to work in the Manchester Bike Hire workshop to check over all the essentials and do the most thorough job possible in the time frame before the show. It was a rare treat to be servicing custom built bikes and investigating this intriguing combination of parts – The girls troupe is sponsored with new edition Pashley tourers, sporting disc brakes and an 8-speed hub gear painted in special edition maroon.

We had the privilege of cycling the final two bikes from the workshop up to Ordsall Hall where the troupe was preparing for their performance in the beautifully kept grounds of the manor under a warm evening sun. The lawn was scattered with camping chairs, blankets and picnics. The show itself began with a bang with the girls bursting into song to the tune of a ukulele. Audience participation and blurred lines between character and reality made for a feeling of authenticity and a fantastically hilarious show with cross-dressing, character swapping, and a hilarious use of props. The performance was high energy and fast paced, keeping everyone engaged throughout – had I not met them on arrival it would have been easy to forget just how far these talented girls had cycled to be there, they are truly a force of nature with seemingly endless reserves of energy!

We had a thoroughly pleasant evening and it was a real pleasure to meet these most talented and resilient actors who have done an excellent job of doing what they love, in a sustainable and productive way! Well done Handlebards!

If you missed the girls’ troupe this time, the boys’ troupe will be performing at Ordsall Hall on the 10th August.

See their full schedule for dates, venues and booking links here.




Bikes and bodies: connect and create

Drawing is a perfect way to connect with and notice your surroundings. We decided that drawing bikes and bodies would be a great chance to learn about both of these things and their relationship to each other.


We gathered at The Wonder Inn, a creative wellness centre in Manchester, to draw and discuss and learn. The group was drawn from a cross section of the Manchester community and women had come for different reasons. Some were intrigued by the original idea, some love bikes, some were feminists and wanted to celebrate International Women’s Day, some wanted to try life drawing for the first time, others wanted to connect with their creativity.

We started by doodling – the first key principle of drawing is to connect your mind and your hands and to understand how your materials behave. This also gave us the chance to feel comfortable in the room, get to know our model, Maggi-May, and to see our marks on paper without fear of making mistakes. We mused on what we value about our bodies. Whilst we doodled we listened to each other’s pride in the power of our bodies and each celebrated the value of our diverse bodies.

As we moved through a series of poses, learnt the value of just looking and grew more confident in our mark making we discussed the specific experience of being women and women who cycle. We noted how different and diverse women’s bodies are but how our experiences are often characterised by a conflict with our bodies. A few women noted how cycling has reduced this conflict through feeling powerful, empowered, not caring, losing weight, gaining muscle, changing shape or feeling free (or all of the above!).

An interesting discussion about our favourite bodily sensation inspired a renewed love of cycling in a number of the group. Women enjoy the feeling of wind, rain and sunshine on their skin and in their hair. One woman echoed a consensus that feeling powerful, especially standing up and ‘absolutely going for it’ was a great sensation. The meditative rhythm of breathing and pedaling was noted, as was the sensation of being out of breath. One woman mentioned the lovely feeling of weightlessness you experience when one your bike. And everyone agreed it’s a great place to think! I personally love feeling the wind through the hairs on my legs! A great reason not to shave your pins if ever there was one! We all agreed that a child-like sense of abandonment and freedom was something very special about cycling (and drawing!).

We ended the session by celebrating each other’s drawings and discussing the importance of mindful creativity and mindful cycling. The session was so incredibly uplifting; I think we all floated out the room on a wave of empowerment and solidarity!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated! A huge thank you to Maggi-May who participated and modeled! And thanks again to The Wonder Inn for hosting us.


Here’s what some of the Lady Pedallers had to say about their experience:

 “It was great to spend time with a group of women sharing our experience thinking about body positivity and making art”

 “Great session! I loved the celebration of feminism, empowerment and cycling-we need more of this in Manchester”

 “It was one of the best afternoons I have spent. It’s helped me get in touch with my creativity and love my body and inspire me to bike more often.”

 “Always leave Lady Pedal events looking forward to riding my bike.”


Photos: Patrycja Marczewska

Tales of Inspiration

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.

Lady Pedal & speakers
From left to right: Hannah, Emma, Kathy, Liz, Mary, Glynis, Patrycja

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!65a

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:

  1. Be in the moment
  2. Your body can do amazing things
  3. Women are wherever you go
  4. To travel is to be rich
  5. Bikes are not all that special
  6. The world is full of kindness
  7. Smile and smile again
  8. Know thyself
  9. Every relationship deserves a bike ride
  10. 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 & Glynis

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!

Photos: Mike Robinson (TFGM), Liz Leakey


Critical Lass World Record Attempt!


Lady Pedal will be leading the Chorlton feeder ride to Alexandra Park to make history for women’s cycling in Manchester!

We’ll be leaving Chorlton Park at 1pm to join the main event. We’ll pedal at a chilled lovely pace around the park, up the Fallowfield Loop and onto Alex Park. We’ll have qualified Ride Leaders on hand to help keep the group together.

The main mass participation ride will be happening in Alexandra Park where all the feeder rides will come together for one bulk beaming pedal around the park – HOW MANY PEOPLE CAN WE GET!!??? Here’s what’s happening:
>> Free bike tuning & maintenance advice
>> Cyclist’s Speaker’s Corner – get your voice heard!
>> Learn2Ride sessions
>> Tasty grub & drinks at the Teahive Cafe
>> Silly bike games for kids and adults with ACE prizes to be won [more info to follow]
>> Women’s cycling photo exhibition
>> Safety goodies & bike training information from the TfGM bike trailer

It’s going to be a great day! Please please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested.

**** Guys are absolutely welcome as well – this event is by no means excluding you awesome lot – but designed to help highlight IWD and help develop women’s cycling in our fine city… Would be beyond great if you could join us – as individualsl or with your family & friends ***

Main event page:

Lady Pedal Life Drawing

Celebrating International Women’s Month

Bike/Body Life Drawing
Learn about the mechanics of your bike and your body in a guided drawing session.

This is a session for women to learn about the way their bodies and their bikes work and also participate in a consciousness-raising discussion about your body’s relationship to your bike, the world and your mind.

All bodies are good bodies!

You will be guided through the drawing session, learning about significant body and bike bits as you go. The discussion aims to promote body positivity and explore women’s attitudes to their bodies, cycling and physical and mental well being.

Date: Sunday 12th March, 2.30pm
Venue: The Wonder Inn
Cost: FREE!  Limited to 15 places. Please book your space using the ticket link:

Just bring yourself-all materials provided but feel free to bring your own too.

Inclusive of: Anyone who identifies as a woman.

Women’s Cycling Stories – An evening of Tales in the Saddle

cyclingstories03-17(3)web.JPGCycling stories that’ll take you for a ride…

Lady Pedal are delighted to be hosting an evening of inspirational talks and stories from a number of women who have had a wide range of cycling experiences, as part of our program of events for Manchester’s International Women’s Festival 2017, kindly funded by Women On Wheels.

From a diverse array of backgrounds, we’ll have an interesting panel of speakers, both from Manchester and further afield, to engage and inspire before we open the stage to members of the public to share their own thoughts on everything cycling from mayhem and mishaps, to life changing experiences.

Date: Tuesday 7th March, 6pm
Venue: Sandbar
Cost: FREE! – but please register via the link below as capacity will be limited!

These exceptional 4 women will be sharing their stories, final timings and line-up:
6.10pm – Glynis Francis: “Cycling to Equality – the chain that set women free.”
6.35pm – Kathy West: “Making cycling safe and fun”
7.00pm BREAK
7.15pm – Liz Leakey: “10 lessons I learned on the road”
7.40pm – Mary Clark: “Woman in the workshop – the story of the reluctant mechanic.”
8.05pm BREAK
8.20 Open mic! – share YOUR cycling story + discussion
If that wasn’t exciting enought, early arrivals will get a free slice of the renowned Sandbar pizza!

Confidence building and social ride – TOMORROW

Sunday 19th February – next Lady Pedal social ride!

A chilled circular route for all levels and abilities.
We’re also doing a special morning session for anyone who would like to build their confidence cycling on roads!

Sunday 19th February 2017
MEET: Tea Hive in Alexandra Park

11am – Confidence building session
12 noon – Lunch (picnic or TeaHive)
1pm – Social ride
LEVEL: For everyone
DURATION: ~2 hrs

ROUTE: Salford circular route beginning and ending at the park, sticking mainly to cycle paths and quiet routes where possible.

We will have a trained bikeability ride leader and experienced cyclists on hand to coach uncertain cyclists through the basic theory of road cycling in the cafe.
You’ll get a chance to try this out in the park or local roads before lunch then we strongly encourage anyone who comes for the morning to join a group of more experienced riders in exercising their new confidence after lunch!

(please let us know in advance of you intend to borrow a bike)

We will have tools on hand for basic adjustments, puncture repair and tyre pumping so don’t let your bike hold you back, or if you don’t have a bike at all, we can lend you one! Courtesy of Women on Wheels. 🙂