Features Ed Blog: Inspirational Female Cyclists

Jeff Holmes/Shutterstock © inspirational female cyclists

In our current Special on sale – number 213 – Laura Brown has written a fab article about inspirational female cyclists.

I’ve blogged about my own love of cycling before and also about chatting to author Julia Chapman about how it helps her clear her head for writing. So I loved reading this piece by Laura.

The main pic on this blog is of a woman called Lee Craigie. I saw her at Dundee Mountain Film Festival, talking about both her adventures abroad and her passion for getting everybody into cycling. Especially young women in schools, who might otherwise be put off trying it for cultural reasons or feeling that it’s not for them.

Inspiring urban/suburban kids to get out, cycle and explore is so good for their mental health. Lee’s doing really important work, alongside her own awesome adventures.


I’ll not repeat the article, because I couldn’t do them justice the way Laura has, but I was in awe of them all. Take Kittie Knox, who joined a U.S. cycling club in 1893 as an African-American. Kittie had to fight for her right to cycle alongside them at all.

Then there’s Annie Cohen Kopchovsky. The first woman to cycle around the world, she did so only days after she learned how to ride! As Laura says, “Annie arrived home 15 months later with new-found fame – and a broken arm”. Astonishing.

New Age, New Challenges

Modern day female cyclists might not have the same enormous barriers to surmount towards equality, but they’re are definitely still barriers. There’s no female Tour de France, for example. The infamous, hair-rising Red Bull Rampage event still doesn’t have any female competitors. It doesn’t explicitly block them, but maybe there’s not enough effort to include them.

inspirational female cyclists

Photo by Christian Pondella/Red Bull/Sipa/Shutterstock.

One rider, Casey Brown from New Zealand, tried to qualify on a particularly windy day. She ended up with a broken collarbone, separated shoulder and bruised her liver. On big features, even a slight crosswind can cause chaos, but she’s back in action after her recovery.

Casey is pushing for a women’s version of the event, to inspire the next generation, and give amazing riders like her somewhere to push the envelope further.

Mel Nicholls

Cycling is now accessible to even more people, thanks to inventions like hand-cycles. Mel Nicholls was paralysed by a series of strokes, but has achieved phenomenal things on a hand bike.

Basically a bicycle upside down, it lets you lie on your back and use your hands to pedal. It’s a life-changing invention, and it’s letting motivated folk like Mel achieve everything they want to.

If that didn’t stop her, I shouldn’t be letting a bit of drizzle stop me!

Anyway, take a look at what other fab stuff is in Special 213 in our sneak peek.

You can also make sure you don’t miss a Special again with a subscription! Or make it even easier to get the “Friend” exactly when it’s published with a digital subscription.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.