My thoughts on Cycletta…

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”.

my brilliant bike companions... making the ride even more enjoyable!

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. 


14 responses to “My thoughts on Cycletta…

  1. I enjoyed your post. I too get scared when I see things that are described as “for women” or created with a “woman theme” in mind… I prefer to just “belong” and be part of things that are offered and available to all: no special considerations.

  2. Quite agree. I have the same feeling of uneasiness when it comes to the women only ‘Race for Live’ 5 & 10k races run by a certain large supermarket. I recently found myself in a position of having to do one (my sister couldn’t run and my mum didn’t want to do it on her own). At the end we got free lady-products in our goody bag. That did make me laugh. But a free Grazia magazine, really, that is going a bit too far.

    • We are soooo0 on the same wavelengths 😀 If I think of all the bl**dy hard work that my grandma’s (her included) generation and my mum’s (her included) generation did for women’s (real) equality and then ‘we’ are reduced to be given a free copy of Grazia magazine, I just want to sit down and weep…

  3. I’m not familiar with the companies mentioned here (Sky, Grazia) but I know what you mean. I generally dislike women-only advertising and events by big corporations because they are almost always icky and stereotypical, which goes to show how little corporations respect their female customer base.

    That said, I am a huge fan of women-only gatherings, whether book clubs, bike rides, stitch ‘n bitch, or women’s colleges. I personally get a lot out of such gatherings and lots of women tell me how much they appreciate the welcoming environment of the women-only events I organize. This kind of environment can be very helpful for women participating in male-dominated activities like bicycling. Also, as a lawyer I have sought out and greatly benefitted from women-only mentoring groups.

    In short: corporations – ick, grassroots – yay. 🙂

  4. Hi Lorenzoa, great thought-provoking article. I had read about the Cycletta ride, via Twitter I think, they have a traffic-free ride planned for Tatton Park in October. Looked into, but the £45 price tag is going to deter most of the people they are trying to target.

    I know exactly what you mean as regards women-only cycle rides. But I do know some women not confident on a bike, who would prefer to find their pedalling legs at a gentle-paced, female only event. So I think it does have a place. Anything to get more women cycling has got to be a good thing (pity it’s Murdoch £££’s behind it though). Two wheels are a terrific equaliser and age, gender, language & anything else are no barrier.

    Have you seen @breezemcr part of the same Sky thing, but with some interesting routes, may be worth a go?

    • I agree with you and Dottie, about allowing less confident women riders to find their own pace in a friendly environment. And equally, like Dottie, I think, smaller, locally stemmed, grassroots groups are great, but when it’s such a big corporate name behind it, you know they are in it for the money, and marketing…

      Also, I fully believe that friendly, slow pace rides are beneficial for any new novice cyclist, be that a woman, a man, an elderly person or a child. That’s why our everyday cycling infrastructure should be designed and built so that it encourages a wider spectrum of cyclists 😉 (but then I know I am starting to sound like a broken record! lol!)

      I have not seen @breezemcr part, I will look into it! Thanks!!

  5. Found this page by accident ‘cos i’m thinking of getting a sterling bike to ride – wow you make some wonderful comments on all that is good about cycling. Did my student days in Manc and never stopped cycling since but didn’t last marriage with a tandemist cos sadly there are a few differences ‘tween some of us and some of them boys i.e they want to get up at 8 every sunday morning for a 60 mile ride at 20mph and still come home to clean washing/nice dinner/a pretty garden and good sex whan they get home. That was a horrible generalisation I know but generally guys do peddle a bit faster and travel a bit further and if thats the only thing stopping girls from riding then start out with a women only, get your confidance and learn to enjoy all the good bits cos there really are lots of em, Have a look at Get gorge-ous website and see what we’ve achieved. : o )

  6. I think its cool you get a free Grazia if you want one, you dont have to read it but freebies are great! Lets not overlook the fact you also get a free cycling magazine too so its not completely girly girly is it?!!

    I think it is clear that if more women get cycling by removing barriers that is great and is the main thing but I see your point of view about the price. Looking at what you get for your money though and the fact the evnet seems to look incredibly professional and not a budget local ride it could be worh it – lets see what year 1 is like – this is the first year of the event!

    Finally just thought I’d mention that Cycletta launched in February and looked nothing like this new Cycletta which is SPONSORED by Sky Ride. So that means there is a company that has decided to put the event on to get more women cycling and Sky have liked the idea and have decided to get on board and support it – not run it/take over and own it. I personally believe Sky do a lot of good for raising the profile of cycling in the UK which is great so if they fancy adding their marketing and corporate might to an event like Cycletta which has the message to get more women cycling then great!

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