In terms of action, Bamford’s biggest contribution is her new clothing brand, Queen of the Mountains, designed to provide women with kit that works, and makes them feel good whilst they’re on and off the bike.
Speaking to other female cyclists, it was clear the existing offering wasn’t ticking their boxes – Bamford says: “I suppose they [women in audience survey groups] just felt like the colours where quite dull and muted, or you got a really loud, bright pink and purple [design]. Or men’s designs with a flash of pink. It wasn’t quite there. They weren’t really styled, it wasn’t fashionable clothing, it was kind of sports wear with a flick of colour.
“People just wanted something fresh and also visible. I think visibility and safety was more at the forefront of women’s minds compared to men – but [they still wanted] something that looked nice – not like a bright yellow jacket.”
“I went back to basics – chose a few of my friends and cyclists I knew from different clubs as well as a couple of pro cyclists, who had different body shapes and asked them to wear it.”
Designing kit for women, whose body shapes she says vary much more than men’s, is difficult – but the difference a well fitting garment makes is well worth the trouble.
Bamford told me: “It’s a minefield and fitting clothing for women is harder than for men. Initially I developed a size Small and Medium – from the day I had most cyclists in the UK are around that size, which equates to a UK 10 to 12, and maybe 14. So I did a lot of the testing and the sampling in that size range. Then I went back to basics – chose a few of my friends and cyclists I knew from different clubs as well as a couple of pro cyclists, who had different body shapes and asked them to wear it.”
Good fit, she determined, was mostly down to picking the right materials. She says: “Fabric is really important – if you get something with a four-way-stretch in it, depending where the seams are and the shape of the garment, you can allow for different sized chest or hips and give a little bit of extra stretch. So the lycra I used in the shorts is a four-way-stretch which means if you’re wider at the hips it will still give great coverage and feel firm, but it’s quite elastic so if you’re smaller at the waist it will fit tight enough.”
I share my own frustrations with brands that size their kit completely differently depending upon the ‘range’ – if it’s race fit or leisure wear, taking me from an Extra Small to a Medium without my body actually changing shape which makes buying online hard. Bamford’s range has a classic fit jersey and a race fit option – so I’m keen to hear about her approach.
She says: “I’ve tried to make it so if you’re a Small in one you’ll be a Small in the other style. We’ve gone off base template measurements for bust, hips and waist. However – it could be that as the race jersey is much stretchier, people will go down a size.”
Fabric is obviously incredibly important in terms of performance too, and Bamford relays to me hours of testing tight fit t-shirts on the indoor trainer to determine their wicking properties before eventually selecting her favourite Italian mix. The shorts use a Cytech pad – known in the industry for being the absolute best and Power Lycra ensures coverage and support.
The first range of kit is inspired by Bamford’s favourite climb – Mount Ventoux and includes two jersey designs in a range of colours, shorts, a base layer, gilet and caps.
We’ll be putting it to the test, soon – to see how it rides and give our verdict and it’s currently available via a Kickstarter page which Bamford tells us allows women to pick up extra discounts – with jerseys starting at £80 and shorts at £90. If the Kickstarter goes well and she reaches her target, the kit will be available to buy on the main site and there will be more ranges to come.