Get inspired by 14-year old Cherry and her school friends who are departing this week on a 180 mile coast to coast challenge.
Pay close attention to your internal monologue as you cycle. How you talk to yourself can have a huge impact on your training and enjoyment of a ride.
Juliet shares how she silences her sometimes irrational harsh inner critic, to stay positive and boost her self-esteem on the bike.
There’s just nothing like your first ‘proper’ bike. Ann’s is much better than mine was, it’s beautifully made and perfectly balanced, and so light. My first bike was a purple Raleigh Bianca, purchased for the princely sum of £2 from a local jumble sale. It had a padded cream saddle, a basket at the front, three gears, and it weighed about seventeen metric tonnes.
I can feel the warmth of the sun, the rush of the apparent wind. I can see the lush, green moss, the small, white flowers. I can smell the sun cream, taste the saltiness of sweat. I can hear the crunch and whirr of the tyres on the ground, the click of the free hub.
Have you ever wondered what it is that makes you feel so good when you've been out on the bike? Endorphins and adrenaline probably spring to mind, the physical changes that happen in the body when we exercise or throw ourselves down hills. But I'm beginning to wonder if what really makes me feel so good when I'm roaming around the countryside on two wheels is more to do with what's going on in my mind.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary 'an athlete is a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.' Well, I’m fairly certain that each and every one of us who gets out and about on our bike fulfills those criteria. It might come down to your personal definition of “proficient” but I’m willing to bestow that level of expertise onto those of us who passed the exam in primary school and who manage to stay upright at least 50% of the time.
So, every time you take out your bike, and indeed even when you’re sitting enjoying your post-ride tea and cake, you can rest easy in the knowledge that your athletisism is not in question. But would you really refer to yourself as an athlete?
Last weekend saw the inaugural Wagfest, a day of cycling chatter, demos and stalls curated by London Bike Kitchen at Oakley In-Residence. I was delighted to chair a panel discussing women’s racing. We discussed how women can get in to racing, shared our own experiences, answered as many questions as possible and gave plenty of advice and encouragement. It turned out there were many women in attendance who were teetering on the edge of taking the plunge but weren’t sure exactly where to begin - or maybe wondered about how they’d fare.
So in case you’re one of those hesitating to get more involved in cycling, here are some tips and advice for beginners. To kick things off, here are 7 reasons why you should start racing...
Great cycling gear is all about enabling optimum performance – and that includes comfort. However feeling comfortable goes beyond padded bottoms and silicon thigh grippers...
We're incredibly lucky to have a uniquely strong, talented team here at VeloVixen. A bunch of fools that genuinely care about each other and about dealing properly with people. Here we are...
Former Life: Mixing life as a professional actress with life on the road as a professional tour guide. Juggled seasons with the Royal Shakespeare Company and television roles with the challenges of keeping educational groups of American teenagers under control.
Epiphany: Meeting Phil on a blind date in 2009.
Cycling Experience: Pottering round Cambridge in the 1990s. Oh, and riding 10,000km through South America and the US with Phil.
Today: Liz juggles (still juggling!) her role as VeloVixen Strategic Director with moonlighting in cycling event organisation and being a full-time mum to Zoe and Emma.
Former Life: Sitting at a desk and travelling the world managing portfolios of hedge funds - whilst covertly plotting exotic cycling trips and other adventures.
Epiphany: Meeting Liz on a blind date in 2009 (see above). And leaving his job shortly thereafter...
Cycling Experience: Land's End to John O'Groats, Ironman triathlon, various Etapes, the whole route of the 100th Tour de France and a little ride with Liz in 2010 (see above).
Today: Phil manages VeloVixen day-to-day whilst being as hands-on a dad as possible to Zoe and Emma. And planning the odd ride here and there. If he's good, a couple of times year he gets to see another male.
Former Life: If you've been arrested in the Oxford area in recent years, there's a fair chance that Fran was the one wielding the truncheon (she's a big softy really). She was one of the boys girls in blue, for almost 13 years until she realised that cycling was here true calling. And especially cycling kit. Don't even ask about her wardrobe.
Epiphany: Realising that police work wasn't leaving enough time for cycling. Or holidays. Luckily life at VeloVixen is one long cycling holiday (so we tell her).
Cycling Experience: Fran's rarely off a bike, whether it's climbing a Dolomite, finishing yet another Ironman triathlon, ripping up a Welsh MTB trail or rolling in cyclocross mud.
Today: Fran is in charge of our warehousing and order processing. You'll often find her on the end of a phone with her peerless line in sensible cycling kit advice.
Former Life: Andrew has sorted out the numbers for many and various firms over the years, in worlds ranging from helicopters to bathrooms. Cycling shouldn't be a problem.
Epiphany: The realisation that renovating your own house entirely didn't mix well with a traditional full time job!
Cycling Experience: We're working on luring Mr B onto a bike for the first time in a while... watch this space.
Today: Andrew is a voice of pragmatism and reason in the cacophony of women's cycling - he does the important bits. And he's fast developing a penchant for ladies' lycra.
Former Life: The Unicorns have been around for many years, sprinkling their Unicorn Magic on numerous projects including our website and famous newsletters.
Epiphany: Recognising they were work and play soulmates.
Cycling Experience: any time you find these two loons away from the keyboard, you can be sure they'll be on a bike, snowboard, surfboard or rockface somewhere.
Today: Matt and Vic are sublime creators of websites - from the Unicorn's nest in Lancashire, they devise ever more fiendish ways to bring sites to life and make them work better and more beautifully.
Former Life: What?!
Epiphany: Being born into a cycling family...
Cycling Experience: Until 2016 Zoe was restricted to her 3-wheeled scooter, but is now pedalling her Isla Bike like a demon. Emma's still observing.
Today: Zoe (5) is the senior member of our youth squad, having been joined by her little sister in late 2014. Their role is constantly evolving. Both ladies take their role as Roving Ambassador very seriously - with new roving techniques including... 'running around doing funny things'. Zoe is now showing more active managerial potential - at least when it comes to managing her parents. Emma has recently developed scooter envy.
Every so often, you get an unforgettable reminder of why cycling is special. Why cycling can take you to highs and lows like few other experiences. This weekend, VeloVixen founder Phil had one of those. It reminded him of exactly why women’s cycling is such an exhilarating world to be involved in.