Saturday, 21 May 2011 buddies...and breaking down gender stereotypes...

A few days ago, my facebook inbox revealed an exciting invite from Cycletta: a unique series of women-only, mass participation events, created to inspire more women to take up cycling. As Cycletta is being launched by Olympic Gold medalist Victoria Pendleton, my enthusiasm was hard to hide, especially as the invite included the words "you and a friend can have a media place on a 40 km bike ride and to prepare for it you can have advice from the Olympic Gold medalist!" The people who know me, know how much respect i have for athletes and also how excited i can be at everything bicycle related! So, i replied at once saying i was up to the challenge!

Today there was the first blogger's conference with Victoria Pendleton, which i missed  due to work in the day time and due to meeting friends in the evening; no regrets though, as the evening was filled with tons and tons of love and bike talk. Although, not an Olympic medalist, my buddy Luda made me giggle with her passionate description of how she feels when she rides a bike, in order to encourage our other friend, Sule, who has just started to ride:

"you have to let your bike become part of your body. it feels like you are free, like you are flying."

The night continued with more talking about this amazing feeling of riding, being one with the bike; an extension of your body. I laughed until my face hurt at the "Just feel it between your legs" comment and i loved how much my buddies love the amazingness of cycling.

To get back to Cycletta, (the bike rides for women launched by Victoria Pendleton), there is one thing that makes me uncomfortable and i must admit has disappointed me: the attempt to encourage women to cycle by feme-ing it up, with talk about make-up, lipsticks and hair dos and the “helmet hair remedy centres (these facilities may come at an additional charge)” that  the Cycletta rides promise...we are girls too but right now we do not care about helmet hair - we are proud of our helmet hair, our chain-oil marks that the bike leaves on our legs at clumsy moments; because what we love is the feeling of freedom and the feeling of unity, urban cycling has given us. I really wish Victoria Pendleton did not feel the need that the way to promote cycling was to focus on the stereotype of "feminine" or the stereotype of "beauty" and tapped in the uniqueness of that cycling feeling instead.

I still have respect for women athletes, whether they feme it up(not so much respect when they become tools of sexism) but i find my friend's words on why she loves cycling much more inspiring.   So, my dear readers, whoever you are, whether you are a tomboy or a lipstick feme, give cycling a go, and lets try to not create barriers between us with silly stereotypes or being part of sexist magazines. Just remember the cycling feeling of freedom and that strong sense of community that urban cycling has given us.

Happy cycling! (Luda, do not forget your bike lights. And Sule, just remember: think of the bike as part of you and enjoy the feeling of freedom. Nes, keep on the bike love and standing up for feminism - you 3 are my top cyclists, especially Sule)