6 super-resolutions every cyclist needs to honour this year
Women’s cycling needs all our support to keep growing, but you really don’t need to do much to do your bit. To give you some inspiration, Jessica Strange rounds up the best resolutions for taking your passion and women’s cycling to the next level in 2019…
It’s the new year and with it comes a fresh calendar of cycling possibilities. However, being the best cyclist you can be isn’t just about how far or fast you go, it’s about supporting women’s cycling more broadly. Women’s cycling continues to strive for more media exposure, better opportunities and improved equality throughout, and to make all that happen we have to collectively show that the appetite is there. So, what does that mean for you? Simply get out there and ride more (as if you needed any excuse). Because by doing that you are showing brands, governing bodies, TV programmers and race organisers that we exist and they need to pay attention. Here are some ideas to get your cycling juices flowing…
Watch a live race
What: There’s nothing quite like watching a powered-up peloton whizzing past you in a blur of speed and excitement, so do your best to watch a women’s cycling race in real time this year. With most elite and amateur cycling events open to public viewing, you can show your support at local league races or watch your professional cycling heroines in action.
Why: By being part of an electrifying crowd of supporters, you’ll get swept up in the hype and hungry to go out and ride your bike. But, more than that, you’ll be doing a massive service to women’s cycling. Professional women’s cycling is caught in an equality war, with media, sponsors and race organisers reluctant to invest time and money into women’s cycling without the demand and interest. To give you some context, in 2018 there were 52 days of UCI racing in the women's calendar, which is less than half of the 179 days of UCI racing the men had. The maximum number of stages women are allowed in a tour is currently six (with the permitted exception of the Giro Rosa, which allows ten stages, each with an average of 140km per stage). For the men, the maximum number of stages in a tour is 23, with an average distance of 180km per stage.
When it comes to prize money, it's only in very recent years that event organisers have started matching the men's prize pot. In 2018, the Women's Tour prize pot was increased by a whopping €55,000 euros to match the men's tour prize money. This is a huge step forward for bridging the prize money pay gap, but this only happened last year. It’s a similar story for the Tour Down Under, which has increased their women's prize pot by around $90,000 (a massive step-up from the initial $15,000 that was previously on offer to women).
As former cyclist, Kathryn Bertine, boldly declares: "If we want to rise above the inequality, it’s the women who have to rise up together.” Beyond the fun factor, by showing your support by watching a live women’s event, you are joining the crusade for increased coverage and equality.
How: The elite race calendar begins January 15th with the Tour Down Under kicking things off, but if you can’t make it over to Oz, there are some incredible races on UK shores across the year. Tour of Yorkshire (May 2 - 5) and Ovo Energy Women’s Tour (June 10 - 15) are absolute thrillers, with the Women’s Tour in particular traversing hundreds of miles of the UK (watch their site for the route). For European adventurers, Tour of Flanders (April 7) in France and Giro Rosa (July 5 - 14) in Italy are well worth making the trip for (especially if you plan to ride and drink wine while you are at it).
What: From heading over to France to take on a stage of the Tour de France to climbing the legendary Mount. Ventoux, to popping over to the infamous Dolomites to scale the epic mountains, to luxuriating in Mallorca’s legendary switchbacks… We all have an ultimate bike-it bucket list that we’d love to tick off, so why not make 2019 the year you start going global with those must-ride destinations?
Why: Some of the most iconic cycling routes can be found all over the world. But it’s not just the food and opportunity to escape the norm that makes a cycling holiday a must. Venturing out from your local routes gives you a sense of adventure and a huge boost of confidence. Over to Casquette Editor, Danielle Welton: “My first cycling trip abroad was through a company called Spice Roads, where I rode from Bangkok to Phuket. I was a really inexperienced cyclist back then and they organised everything, including my bike, accommodation, food, route and mechanical support. The trip was amazing, the food was sensational and the people in the group were fantastic. That trip really fuelled my cycling fire and, since then, I have ridden in Girona, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. I also rode from Niagra Falls to Lake Placid. It’s such a brilliant way to see the world and meet people.”
How: You can either take the stress out by booking with a cycle tour operator, who will typically take care of accommodation, itinerary and guiding. Some of our favourites include Marmot Tours, Gutsy Girls and Bike Adventures. Alternatively, you can arrange everything yourself. If this is the case, you’ll need to consider things like travel insurance, transporting or renting your bike, where to stay and where to ride. Another option is to use a company like VeloGuide, who will match you up with a local cycle guide that you can hire for the day or the whole trip, making it a great way to ride like a local wherever you go.
What: In its most basic sense, bikepacking is when you grab a bike, load it with bags containing essential items like clothing, camping gear, food and tools and head off on a ride. It typically involves overnight stays – whether that’s camping, glamping or B&Bs – and is commonly associated with long-distance rides. Importantly, you are pretty much self sufficient, carrying everything you need for your ride on your bike.
With a few strategically placed frames bags, your absolute essentials and a sense of adventure, bikepacking is the discipline that has no rules or regulations. It’s entirely up to you how far you ride and where you go, and you can go as ‘wild’ as you like, setting set off for a weekend, two weeks or 124 days (a la Jenny Graham, who bikepacked her way to Guinness World Record).
“For a lot of people, just getting out into the hills – that minimal escapism – is enough to recalibrate your senses,” says Laurence McJannet, a cycling journalist and author of Bikepacking – a book crammed with insight on gear, camping spots and decent pubs en route.
Why: It’s all about freedom and adventure, it’s a brilliant laugh (even when you are testing yourself), and the perfect opportunity to reconnect with your wild side.
How: If you’ve never gone bikepacking before, we recommend that you start small with a B&B or overnight camp somewhere that’s not too far from home. It can take a little time to perfect your bike set-up (what items to pack and how far you can travel with the additional weight), so it’s well worth doing some test rides before you set off for a full-on expedition. There are a few navigation apps which are handy to use, such as Komoot, which allow you to fully map out your route and help to navigate you along it, and Bikepacking.com is also a great resource. Importantly, you will need to invest in a proper frame bags or pannier set-up, and for those we love bikepacking bag brand, Apidura.
Enter a RACE OR SPORTIVE
What: As we mentioned upfront, the biggest thing you can do to help women’s cycling is to get out there and represent. But a new event, such as a race or sportive, is also a great way to push your cycling. There are a couple of differences between the two, so it depends on your goals / experience level as to which one you go for.
A cycling race is a competitive event involving a set distance, recorded times and points. These are great for experienced riders who are looking to take their riding to the next level and mean that you really learn about yourself and your cycling in a friendly, yet competitive, environment. To take part in a race, you'll need to hold a British Cycling race license, which is available to anyone from just £24/year.
If you're not yet ready for the race environment, sportives are perfect events for building up your confidence and seeing the UK. These are non-competitive group rides where the course is marked for you, snack stops are provided and mechanical assistance is on hand should you need it. Taking place across the country all year long, Sportive.com is a great resource for finding out where, when and what distances are on offer.
Why: Entering a cycling race or sportive is a brilliant way to put your fitness and ability to the test, and because you’ll want to do the best you can, they make for a perfect training tool, too.
How: Once you have taken the plunge and registered for an event, get a training plan together and set some goals to help you build your fitness in prep. For extra motivation, encourage a friend to sign up with you.
Attend a Training Camp
What: Some people prefer to rest and relax on hot sandy beaches, while others prefer to use their holidays to give their cycling a boost by attending a training camp. The camps themselves vary between providers, with most running mixed groups. However, there are a number of operators who offer women’s-only packages.
Why: Training camps are active holidays that enable you to see the sights of a new destination, work on your fitness, absorb great weather and meet lovely like-minded people. Importantly, all the hassle and faff is taken off your hands.
How: There are hundreds of training camps running throughout the year and these can usually be filtered by destination, budget and duration. Each provider will vary on what their packages provide, but typically you’ll have to arrange your flights (if needed), insurance and spending money. To help you on your way, here are a of our favourites: Eat Sleep Cycle (in cycling mecca, Girona), Elite Cycling (pro cycling styles) and CCSD (who offer women-only camps).
Introduce a friend to cycling
What: Cycling is great for the mind and body, it opens you up to new countries, places and people, and you get to eat a lot of cake. So, why not share all those gifts by introducing a friend to cycling?
Why: Not only will it provide you with a new riding buddy and them with a new passion, but you’ll be helping to increase the number of female cyclists, which can only ever be a good thing.
How: Kit them out by lending them whatever kit, clothing and gear they may need to feel comfortable, confident and cool. Then, when it comes to their first ride, set a realistic route that isn’t too challenging, ride at their pace and make sure you end with a rewarding piece of cake and coffee.
We took to Twitter to ask what cycling resolutions you were making this year
Hannah Attenborrow wants to “Mountain Bike from North to South Wales”
Helen Langridge wants to “Buy a new bike!”
Harrie Larrie Spence wants to “Get bike adapted after an accident that paralysed my arm and get back outside and on the hills”
Katy want to “Actually do some…[cycling]”
Read more from Jessica here