Feature: Standing up for the Ladies

MICHAELE COOPER GIVES A VERY CLEAR PERSPECTIVE ON HER EXPERIENCE AS A LADY IN A CYCLING CONTEXT. BIKE SHOPS, EVENT MEDIA AND DISTRIBUTORS ARE ALL IN THE FIRING LINE. AND GO!

I would like to rant about a few things in the female cycling community, or rather the lack thereof. I understand that we are in the minority and that shops and industry will always cater for the larger group, in this case male cyclists. With that in mind there are a few things I would like to discuss.

Firstly, why do we have such a small variety of kit? My understanding is that ladies always want to look good and we do not always want to look like every other female cyclist. However, when I try to purchase cycling kits, there are always very little options and those options are normally pink or turquoise. Do all ladies like pink and turquoise? That answer is a no. Personally, I would prefer not to be differentiated from the other sex by the colour of my kit.

Most bikes are designed and manufactured for the male rider but are considered to be unisex. However, if us females purchase a bike, we would not be able to ride the bike and be comfortable from the get-go. There are various things that we would have to change to make it more suitable for us. A classic example of
this is changing the bicycle’s saddle. Why can’t we purchase a bicycle with a female specific saddle? I know there are a few brands out there that have gone over and above to build a bike for us ladies and I really appreciate that! All I want is the option to be available for bike stores to change a bike I am interested in, to a more female spec. This would include a shorter stem, a female saddle and maybe a shorter handlebar because let us face it, we are built differently to men.

This brings me to my next point, and that is the service in this industry. Most shops think that I know nothing and treat me like I do not belong or that I do not know what I am talking about. Us females are definitely not that stupid. Mariska Strauss for example, installed a dropper seat post all by herself a few weeks ago which is really impressive. I am sure that a lot of males would not be able to do that without dialling their nearest bicycle shop.

Lastly, the amount of coverage the females get at sports events are absolutely shocking, and not just in South Africa, but worldwide.

There are female cross country races that are a lot more exciting to watch than the male’s races. It would be great to see how this affects the female cycling community and the growth thereof.

We just want to feel like the industry knows we are here, and we also love the sport.

There are, however, quite a few female cycling communities such as Ride Like A Girl MTB skills, Trail Angels and a wide variety of others that are doing such great things. I would like to thank those who have started these groups and are doing very well with building and strengthening the foundation of the female cycling community.

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