I’m of the view that anyone who rides a bike can call themselves a cyclist, although I’m sure when I started riding a road bike more than six years ago, it took me at least a few years before I’d tell people – “I’m a cyclist”.
A friend of mine sent me a link to an ABC report about an advertising campaign from the UK called “This Girl Can”. It’s spread through social media and is obviously resonating with lots of women, including me.
Here’s the TV campaign.
It’s aimed at getting more women to take up physical activity no matter what their age or size. It seems that many women, me included, don’t fear physical activity, rather, we fear what people will think of us if we undertake physical activity. Sounds absurd but I think there’s some truth in it.
My story is not unlike so many women. I’ve never really felt that I was good at sport or physical activity and throughout my school days I avoided it when I could, and put in the least amount of effort when I had no choice. So I arrived in adulthood believing that physical activity was not for me. I spent my 20s and 30s with my weight going up and down by as much as 10 kilograms and had occasional bursts of physical activity with various gym memberships.
It really wasn’t until I reached my forties, and I discovered the road bike, that I learned physical activity could be fun. I also learned that I could legitimately undertake a physical activity that I was reasonably good at. That’s not to say that I’m the most skilful rider, and definitely not the fastest, but it doesn’t matter, and I certainly don’t worry about what other people think of me.
So my rather long answer to the question I posed in the headline is, whenever you’re ready. Don’t let other people judge you. Don’t let a bunch of lycra clad men claim the mantle. They have no more rights to be called cyclists than you do. And as for lycra, I highly recommend it for comfort and function on the bike, but it’s not compulsory. Do what works for you.
My friend Tina McCarthy must love this campaign. To me it sums up her whole business philosophy, to get women moving. Check out Tina’s business which is based in Melbourne and called Wheel Women.