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Women and their bicycles: a portrait series – Bristol

Cycling photographer Alastair Johnstone is continuing to help us in our mission to capture the essence of female cycling in a series of portraits.

We hope by showcasing all types of women and their bicycles over the coming months, we will be able to make people realise just how accessible cycling is – because that’s our passion – to get more women cycling!

This week Alastair, is in Bristol, profiling more women, their bicycles and reasons for cycling.

Joselyn, 32, Executive Assistant

Joselyn © Alastair Johnstone

Name: Joselyn
Age: 32
Job: Executive Assistant
Bike: Ridgeback

How did you get into cycling?

My husband, when he was a student, cycled everywhere, so it was demonstrated it was the easiest way to get around Bristol.

What do you love about cycling?

The fact that you can beat the traffic.

What’s the best piece of riding advice you’ve been given?

Give yourself enough room on the road so cars don’t try to overtake when they can’t.

Why do you think so few women cycle instead of men?

I think it can be a bit daunting, especially on big roundabouts and things. Men have less of the fear factor I think.

How does commuting via bicycle affect your work day?

It makes it really easy to do the runs we have to, especially with the baby. My husband takes her in on a bike to the childminders, I pick her up in the evenings on a bike. If we had to do it in a car at rush hour it would take 45 minutes rather than 15.

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Kath, 39, Charity Worker

Kath © Alastair Johnstone

Name: Kath
Age: 39
Bike: Raleigh Racer
Job: Charity Worker

How did you get into cycling?

I’ve had a bike since I was thirteen I think. Always had a bike, and did a paper round on my bike, and I’ve always used it if I can for getting to work and commuting just because I enjoy it.

How far do you commute?

It’s an 8 mile round trip.

What do you love about cycling?

I don’t know! I like going fast!

What’s the best piece of riding advice you’ve been given?

To use your gears. Because I started to get pains in my knees, and I just wasn’t using my gears properly.

Why do you think so few women cycle instead of men?

I didn’t know that was the case! Confidence maybe, I’ve got a couple of friends who maybe wouldn’t feel confident to cycle on the road, but then I’ve got some male friends that are the same, who are sort of older guys who haven’t cycled for a long time.

You say ‘come on lets go for a bike ride’ and they’re sort of like ‘oooo errr havent been on a bike for like 15 years’

Maybe confidence, you know – might be to do with having kids and those kind of things as well. But I really don’t know!

How does commuting via bicycle affect your work day?

I can’t do it everyday unfortunately, because I have to use my car for work as I cover quite a big regional area, but I love the days when I can just cycle to the office, because you don’t get stuck in traffic. After buying a place that is by the cycle path, I’m lucky to ride on that, it’s just easy and relaxing.

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Val, 53, On a sabbatical

Val © Alastair Johnstone

Name: Val
Age: 53
Bike: Abbey Club
Job: At the moment I’m on a sabbatical, because I’m not long moved to Bristol so I’m kind of rethinking.

How did you get into cycling?

Well this bike, it belonged to a friend who died. I hadn’t had a bike for a while and I wanted to have a memory. Bit of an odd reason, but that’s how I took it on. I asked the family if I could have the bike when she died.

Where do you commute from/to, how far?

Well I’m doing more cycling now because I’ve only just moved to Bristol, and my son’s lived in Bristol so I cycle up to where he lives. I love it here – it’s great! It’s just like bike heaven in Bristol.

What do you love about cycling?

It’s the freedom and the fact that you can get to places quite quickly on a bike.

What’s the best piece of riding advice you’ve been given?

Years and years ago, somebody must’ve shown me to make sure when you’re pedalling that you put the ball of your foot on the [pedal] and I think that’s probably the best piece of advice I’ve been given.

Why do you think so few women cycle instead of men?

Is that right, I didn’t realise that. Erm I think because you’re quite exposed, and also if you haven’t kept up cycling it can be daunting, but that’s true of either sex, it’s like with anything it’s quite difficult to start I think afresh.

How does commuting via bicycle affect your day?

I think it gives me more freedom than I would normally have I think, also it’s saving me money as well these days.

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