I don’t know if you have heard but Sky (yes, the
TV/phone etc media tzar*) has gathered momentum and caught a new nugget of gold… women only ride: Cycletta.
I don’t quite know how I feel about Cycletta. I know that my gut feeling is of… uneasiness.
Although you may find that I am not a hardcore feminist, I do believe in its principles, most importantly equality. And I have always believed that equality means just that… being at a par with men. Not by separating us from them, but working together and doing things together and being treated the same! May this be in the working environment, the academic/school environment and yes also the cycling world.
I looked more into Cycletta as I thought, and read, that perhaps to encourage more women to cycle, separate events are something positive and to be supported. But I wasn’t impressed.
You pay a £45 entry fee… some of the stuff listed that you get for this entry fee are:
– Free Grazia and Cycling Active magazines
– Monthly nutritional and cycling fashion support
– Helmet Hair Remedy Centre
– Easy parking (of what? Cars?)
Honestly? Is that what women are about? I am a bit** insulted by this, to be totally honest. I know many other women would completely disagree with me, but as this event are marketed for “women”… I’d like to see it at least marketed as for “some women”… talk about stereotyping (!!).
In the Manchester to Liverpool bike ride of last Sunday, I chose to ride in a dress on my Pashley because I wanted to show that cycling can be as easy as that and that it can be part of your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be for a special event, something that is kept in the garage for 360 days a year and brought out for those 5.
During the charity ride I felt a great camaraderie amongst all participants. There were also many families, with children as young as 10-11. The entry fee was just £16, not £45 and we too were handed out drinks etc… plus helmet wearing was pro-choice, which I was really pleased to see.
It was also fantastic to see women supporting their male companions as well as men supporting their female companions. Mums and dads supporting their children, and children supporting their parents. Not once I felt intimidated by male riders, if else I had a lot of support and ‘well done’ from everyone I had a chance to talk to, surprised at seeing me not wearing any specialist clothing. At the end of the ride, I got talking to a fellow rider (man) while we were waiting for the coach to take us back to Manchester and he said to me “Brilliant to see someone in normal clothes, looks like you’ve just popped over to have coffee with friends”.
The Manchester to Liverpool charity bike ride was approximately 40miles (just like Cycletta), like I said had an entry fee of £16, and a brilliant, friendly atmosphere was enjoyed by all.
Let’s not allow a big corporate name like Sky, typecast women in one small box. And most importantly let’s celebrate that we all want to enjoy safe and pleasant cycling in our cities, on our roads, with no difference in sex, age, religion and political views. Being able to use the bike as transport should be seen and recognised as a right for everyone! And I mean that from the bottom of my heart!
So, fellow women, if you are thinking of doing Cycletta, please check other bike charity rides first, which may give you just as a fantastic experience as Cycletta, but by celebrating mutual support, not divisions and by also not being so corporate-ntastic (yes I’ve made the word up).
* not a tsar, I know, but I see Sky and the like that way.
** the understatement of the year.