The women's cycling industry is booming. More and more active ladies are getting up and getting out on two wheels. At TWC we celebrate every women who picks up a bike and rides for the sheer joy it brings them. There's a few women who stand out in the crowd, those women who inspire us to ride, take on challenges and even pursue new career avenues.
Not every inspirational women has to be a professional cyclist, even though they usually appear at the top of many people's heroine list. There are so many women who work hard to develop women's cycling, more who work behind the scenes, and there are those who are great representations of what cycling is all about.
For International Women's Day, we've rounded up a few women in the cycling community who inspire us to ride, to better ourselves as cyclists, and as human beings.
Emily has a wealth of cycling experience from a variety of disciplines in her riding background. From cycling the busy London streets as a bike courier, Emily has gone on to undertake some serious ultra endurance trips.
Last year, Emily blasted her way through nearly 4,000km of riding with 50,000m of climbing to win the Transcontinental bike race. She's raced, ridden and toured all over the world on two wheels, sharing her stories as she rides.
Armed with advice and experience, Emily is on a mission to promote ultra-endurance riding to women. To do this, she's willing to help break down the barriers which may be preventing women from taking part.
Even if you're not an off-road rider, you've surely heard of this incredible athlete. She's been riding since she could balance, and this year marked her incredible perfect World Cup season. Having won all 7 rounds of the UCI World Cup, Rachel scooped up the final win at the World Champs last month. To top it all off, Rachel won two prestigious awards: BT Sport Action Woman Of the Year award after readers voted for their champion, and the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year award.
In addition to her riding career, Rachel is passionate about the women's mountain bike community. The first women's Red Bull Foxhunt took place in 2014, and this year was bigger than ever. With over 200 women taking part, this annual event has quickly become an MTB must-do for all female riders.
Rachel Atherton is the epitome of dedication, focus and hard work. She trains her body and mind to achieve success which can only be admired by the rest of the community, and her army of supporters.
Could you spend a whole year in the saddle?
Kajsa Tylen is one incredible woman. She set out on January 1st 2016 to break the World record for cycled miles in a year. The record was originally set over 70 years ago by Billie Fleming, who cycled 29,603 miles in one year.
Kajsa pedalled hard everyday of the year to rack up the miles. Instead of taking donations of monies, she's encouraged people to make "Sweat Pledges". Not only was Kajsa promoting exercise, but she's also continued her epic challenge even after learning that another rider had beaten her to it.
After a successful professional cycling career, having ranked 3rd in the World, Tracey Gaudry is now leading the women's movement in the UCI. With plenty of race experience and industry expertise, there's really no one better for this difficult role.
It's been a big year for professional women's road cycling with the inaugural season of the Women's World Tour (WWT). One key member of the UCI is Vice President, Tracey Gaudry, who's worked hard on the WWT. What was once a pipeline dream, the WWT kicked off this year with an impressive amount of media coverage and support from riders and countries.
It isn't just the racing that Tracey has helped to develop, but fair wages in competitive cycling. Although still some way off implementation, it's reassuring to know the issue is in good hands.
The Netherlands are already famous for their strong cycling ethos. They're even considered the cycling capital of the world with a majority of residents adoring their two wheel companions on a daily basis.
So when keen cyclist, Anna Luten, came into power as the new Cycling Mayor of Amsterdam, she set out to better the already brilliant cycling city. With a massive cycling population, the Dutch city has it's own unique issues which Anna hopes to address.
One of her first roles is to consider cycling behaviour and how Anna can improve the relationship between cyclists, tourists and motorists. She explains that with a growing community of riders, more action needs to be taken to improve rider awareness and safety. Politics has never looked so appealing!
Three years ago, fitness fanatic, Megan Giglia, suffered a bleed on the brain. Having spent 3 weeks in intensive care after brain surgery, Megan begin the difficult road to recovery. The stroke left her with paralysis in her right side, loss of feeling in her right leg and restricted movement in her arm. Megan also developed three forms of epilepsy and neuro-fatigue which can affect her balance and coordination.
For many of us, this would be the end of our cycling career, but for Megan, it was just the beginning. With specialist help, determination and focus, Megan found relief and therapy on the track bike.
Three years on and Megan's just returned from the Rio Paralympic Games with a Gold medal for her incredible 3,000m track race.
The ultimate adventures are those yet to be discovered.
Passionate adventurer, Laura Bingham, fancied herself a cycle challenge like no other. Raising money for a charity she believed in was on the top of her priority list, but following that was something that no man or woman had dared to try: Cycling across South America without any money.
The purpose of this was to experience true hunger and desperation, just like the children of her nominated charity had endured. Rummaging through bins, eating scraps of food, and even bugs, Laura cycled 7,000km side-to-side of South America. You can read her fantastic story here.
We often take our senses for granted. On every ride, we're taking in the beauty around us, the sights, the smells and the sound of tyres on tarmac with the natter of our riding buddies. While there's the obvious difficulty of communicating with one another, deaf people face cycling barriers we're not even aware of.
That said, deaf cyclist, Fiona Brookes, has been riding for a number of years. She's a killer climbing queen, often dropping fellow riders as she makes for the break. Fiona doesn't shy away from challenges either having completed the Raid Alpine. A 754km ride featuring a whopping 16,212 metres of climbing, where she was also the only woman!
You don't have to have all your senses to be sociable, and one hell of a cyclist. Fiona teaches us so much through sharing her experiences and feelings towards silent riding.
British Olympic athlete, Joanna Rowsell-Shand has been catapulted into the cycling limelight after her multi-Gold medal performances on the track. The young cyclist trains hard on the track alongside Team GB team mates. Her experience in the velodrome has taught her the very essence of what real team work is..
It isn't just a hobby, a stress relief, or profession for the Gold medallist either. Cycling is a sense of relaxation and a wonderful platform to inspire young riders everywhere, especially within the Alopecia community.
Without setting out to inspire, Joanna has instilled hope in budding young track riders with her enthusiasm for cycling and female participation.
Afghan Women's Cycling Team
There's nothing more inspiring then seeing these incredible woman cycling for more than just fun, but for their freedom.
We wouldn't give a second thought to leaving our front door on the bike, and yet these women have overcome adversity in a war ridden country. Zahra Hussaini leads the team and explains the shocking threats and harassment these women go through, just to ride their bike.
Their journey to break stereotypes and regain independance has touched the hearts of many. Earlier this year, 118 Italian MPs signed a petition to have the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team included in the running for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.
These are by no means the only inspiring females in the cycling industry, there are thousands across the globe.
Whether they are a professional athlete, a politician, adventurer, or even your riding buddy, there are women doing wonderful things to promote and nurture our passion for two wheels. Tell us who inspires you to get out and ride and push those few extra miles out of your legs each time.
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