This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 133.
Over the month of July, Cycling UK celebrated their first ‘Festival of Cycling’. As part of the run-up to the festival nominations were called for to create a list of ‘100 Women in Cycling’. The final list celebrates women who empower, enable and inspire other women to cycle. These inspirational women come from all walks of life, ranging from long-term campaigners to sporting role models to those who’ve only recently developed a passion for cycling.
Found in such inspiring company are two women from Cambridge, Outspoken’s head bike mechanic Catherine Thompson (see Newsletter 131) and me!
Catherine’s nomination reads: ‘If cycling, like most sports, is still male-dominated, then workshops and bike mechanics must be even more so. Catherine stands out as an exceptional talent and an inspiration.’
As a 40-something female, I was (pleasantly) surprised to find a woman leading the Velotech Gold mechanic course when I arrived at Outspoken. Catherine is obviously a highly skilled mechanic, but more than that, she is an exceptional teacher. I have never been mechanically-minded or able, but thanks to her patience, her clear explanations and general brilliance, I am now able to maintain a fleet of mountain bikes – she even gave me the confidence to fix my broken washing machine myself, something I would never have even attempted without her. Cat, you’re a star.
Rob King, managing director of Outspoken, expressed his pride in Catherine: ‘We’re all immensely proud of Catherine’s nomination (as one of the top 100 women in cycling) which is of course no surprise given our inbox is always full of positive comments from her happy customers. She’s been a massive inspiration to so many over the years and this award confirms what a great asset she is to our organisation as well as the Cambridge community. We’re honoured to have her as our head mechanic.’
I was nominated by Cycling UK’s Cycling Campaigns Officer, Tom Guha, with whom I regularly work with for local and national campaigns. Tom proposed me saying: ‘Roxanne has been an absolute fireball of energy in her role at Camcycle, ensuring that Cambridge continues to live up to its reputation as the UK’s number one “cycle city”. Under Roxanne’s time as Campaign Officer, Cambridge has continued to become more and more accessible to pedal power. With the election of a new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough metro mayor, we look forward to working with Roxanne to spread the success of Cambridge City across the whole region.’
To be selected as one of 100 incredible women is a real honour and to be given the opportunity to be recognised also shows the influence and importance that Cambridge and Camcycle has for cycling in the UK. While two women from Cambridge have been selected for this particular list, we know there are many, many more local women to celebrate including our committed members, volunteers, trustees and council cycling officers as well as many other women who work in the cycling and related industries.
What we can learn from Cambridge and other cities with high rates of women cycling is that with high rates of cycling come equal rates of cycling. Essentially, good cycling infrastructure is required for all genders to take up cycling en masse. It’s important to celebrate women in cycling to ensure that our voices are among the many voices that should be heard when it comes to asking for the cycling infrastructure we need for normal, everyday cycling.
Visit www.cyclinguk.org to learn more about the Women’s Festival of Cycling and the other 98 women in cycling.
Roxanne De Beaux