I have ridden with Team Glow – the all female cycling network founded by the world record-breaking Glynis Francis for a few years now. It all started in 2011 with her successful bid to get one hundred women cycling in the ‘Manchester 100’ sportive.
Before Glow I rode solo or a lot of the time was the only woman out on an organised ride. In the beginning I didn’t really do the club thing, I still don’t… not all of the time anyway. And to me, this ability to dip in and out is what sums up the beauty of Glow. Their give what you can and take what you need approach is very fitting for one of the UK’s largest all female cycling clubs.
I am very proud to be a member and my unique way of giving back was to organise a photoshoot in the Peak District. The idea was not to present cycling as cliquey or consumerist. I wanted the images to show the camaraderie of women who love hills, adventures and coffee stops. And that whether male or female, young or old; the enjoyment, laughs, the kit, the tech, it’s all part of the same big experience and equal love for life on two wheels.
Glow really sums up what women can do for one another and it is this feeling of support that is what keeps me going back. My time in the club has improved my cycling experience in so many ways. From group riding etiquette and Garmin workshops to discussions of whether you wear your knickers underneath your Lycra or not. It’s about encouragement and the club is open to women of all abilities. There are easier beginner rides and then there are the “Dear Diary, I am f**ked” rides and everything in between.
Cycling is becoming more popular and more important both to the environment and our happiness. Cycling is like meditating; the sound of the turning cogs, the feeling of smooth tarmac. You have nothing to do or think about when riding other than turning the pedals, to keep moving forward. I love it for this. It’s great thinking time and the sense of freedom it gives you is just incredible. At times it can feel like flying when the peripheral scenery blurs as you descend a hill at close to forty miles an hour. The cold wind forcing tears from your eyes and across your cheeks.
There’s no better way to take you from the ordinary than the challenge of a hard ascent. The inevitable pain, self-talk and gritting of teeth are worth it for the views and sense of achievement at the top. It teaches you that you can do whatever you put your mind to. ‘Per aspera ad astra’. This is my climbing mantra – through hardships to the stars.
Cycling is about being so disconnected from it all while at the same time being so connected; to the elements, the landscape, your bike, yourself and to one another.