Home Forums Bike Forum There were no girls riding bikes where I grew up

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  • There were no girls riding bikes where I grew up
  • p7eaven
    Free Member

    Saw this on my feed today, and read one of the comments ‘there were no girls like this…’

    Not just MTBing, but back in the 1980s when I was a teenager only the boys would ride any bikes at all. The irony was that in our whole town there was one girl (who lived in another town!) we knew of who rode a bike and that was purely competitive/track cycling and that was considered so unusual it was amazing. But girls just messing about on bikes was just not a thing. As someone else said – ‘I’m just going to happen to have this on TV when my girls come home’. It’s changed a lot for the better, but good to be reminded sometimes that it’s still in more backwards societies unusual to see girls/women having fun on bikes

    Obv these kids have access to expensive bikes that (at similar age) I couldn’t have even dreamed would exist, let alone afford. Would be good if there were similarly encouraging yet maybe more accessible examples of girls and/mixed groups riding on affordable bikes. Oh no I’ve gone all Wolfie Smith again…

    ^
    Wish I had trails like that near my front door
    #scaredofbears

    weeksy
    Full Member

    It’s not necessarily anyone fault though. Just because girls are not into bikes we don’t have to blame someone/something/society…. Maybe they simple don’t enjoy it.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    It’s not necessarily anyone fault though. Just because girls are not into bikes we don’t have to blame someone/something/society…. Maybe they simple don’t enjoy it.

    What, it’s genetic?

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    There certainly weren’t any/many female role models when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s. Girls rode bikes for transport rather than fun – rode to school, but didn’t take bikes i to the woods afterwards like the boys did.

    Our club’s academy did a big “girls on bikes” promo yesterday with a local based bike manufacturer, got a lot of the girls aged 6-16 together for a photo and video shoot apparently including social use of bikes as well as the racing. Be interesting to see what the finished results are.

    In their teens, its not just girls that drop out though, most sports and youth groups like Scouts struggle to retain kids that age as other priorities and distractions come along.

    anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    I have had conversations with kids at school, re bikes and even now the vast majority will not even consider riding a bike, due mainly to how society (not us on this chat bored obviously) view it.

    jimmy748
    Full Member

    I’ve been riding Mtb in my local area for over 28 years, the local bike club has always had a handful of female members.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    I think the thing I notice more now my Girls are getting older are all the carried over little social norms and conventions that help define what female interests/hobbies/sports are OK and which are still considered outliers…

    The thing that struck me about that video is that the best people to encourage and motivate girls with cycling are other girls. Just like growing up the OP was surrounded by other boys into bikes, girls kind of need the same. Well meaning enthusiastic Dad’s can only take you so far.

    My girls love a spin with me occasionally, their Mum is unfortunately conditioned to see cycling as a chore and full of potential embarrassment so tends not to participate…

    I don’t think the way we present cycling in general in the UK helps, you have to be some flavour of enthusiast or a competitor, just enjoying cycling for what it is doesn’t get much of a look in…

    cchris2lou
    Full Member

    As someone above said , very few girls carry on sports in their teenage years .

    I have Marine Cabirou in my hometown , hopefully that will inspire a few more .

    weeksy
    Full Member

    What, it’s genetic?

    To an extent, possibly. Men generally seem to do adrenaline activities more than girls, I assume there is a genetic makeup that causes that.
    I think you could give girls all the same opportunity to do things like MTB etc but I think a lower percentage of them would actually take it up. Not because they’re brainwashed but maybe because their mindset doesn’t ‘need’ the endorphins like males do ?

    doomanic
    Full Member

    Maybe they simple don’t enjoy it.

    The three in the video obviously do. It’s a great video too; the riding looks fantastic and the girls can really ride.

    mattkkitch
    Full Member

    As someone else said – ‘I’m just going to happen to have this on TV when my girls come home’

    Cam McCaul!

    weeksy
    Full Member

    The three in the video obviously do. It’s a great video too; the riding looks fantastic and the girls can really ride

    Not arguing that at all. But doesn’t mean all will or should.

    Tracey
    Full Member

    Probably the exception to the rule. I started mountain biking in the mid eighties as a teenager as an alternative to windsurfing on windless says. Never lost the passion. Girls came along and sort of just fell into it. They are both grown up now but still get the same buzz they always have

    p7eaven
    Free Member

    But doesn’t mean all will or should.

    What, it’s genetic?

    ‘Spectator lek’, innit?

    tbh tho the vast majority of my male friends have no interest in cycling either.

    molgrips
    Free Member

    Just because girls are not into bikes we don’t have to blame someone/something/society…. Maybe they simple don’t enjoy it.

    That’s sexism, right there. Ascribing characteristics for preferences to half the world.

    Ever wonder why they might not enjoy it? The adrenaline argument is bollocks because there’s far more to cycling than that.

    Maybe you should have a chat with my mum about society’s attitudes towards sporty women – or indeed any women.

    As I said on the racism thread, people take their cues from society around them as they grow up. So if you grow up with the boys doing ‘boy’ things then women are likely to think, even subconsciously, that the thing is not for them. People say things like ‘well I can’t see myself doing that’. The reason they think that is because they’ve grown up thinking it’s for some other group and not them. I’ve experienced this myself – certain things I’ve never done because I had noone to show me that I could and that it would be appropriate for me to do it

    As a parent you need to be aware of how kids are shaped by what’s around them.

    mick_r
    Full Member

    Girls did mess about on bikes, but often didn’t have the right bikes to play with the boys.

    My Mrs would have loved a bmx, but her parents were traditional working class and it was a a definite no. Not the done thing.

    Years later, when she finally worked and saved enough to buy her own road bike, her mum took her thunder (and hard earned money) and ordered the bike they thought she would want – a sodding Raleigh Impulse drop bar ladies frame!

    I managed to get her onto an mtb and she ended up racing for GB at the 95 and 96 worlds (back when BC would still allow fast non-podium prospects to go – there were 175 elite women on the start list in 95!)

    We ended up with boys not girls and have a family album otherwise very similar to Tracey :-)

    molgrips
    Free Member

    For all those who are thinking that women don’t like getting all hot and sweaty – have a look at how many women are out running. Plenty. And how many men are sitting around getting fat because they don’t like exercise? Loads.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    My daughter is now 14, enjoys it when I can persuade her to ride, but won’t actively say “can we ride this weekend dad?” Admitedly she does 4 hours gymnastics a week. Theres simply other things she wants to do with her friends, none of whom ride – one did, then discovered football.

    Our local club has 20% female membership. We were really disappointed with that. BC clubs average less than 10% female membership, yet our ladies are the most proactive for meeting up, riding, and sharing their fun all over social media, whether its a cafe ride in the park or (pre covid) European level CX

    blakec
    Free Member

    We have had real problem retaining girls at the club. We often would have one turn up see that there were no other girls and leave after 4 weeks. But last year we were really lucky and 5 all turned up within a few weeks of each other. They all stuck around and are still with the club.

    ahsat
    Full Member

    I was out on Loughrigg about 6 years ago and some walkers stepped aside to let us passed. We slowed down and thanked them. The little girl looked at me, and then looked at her Mum, and said ‘mummy, can girls ride bikes too?’

    Wow. This girl at the age of about 4 had a perception that bikes were not for girls. I stopped and said said to her ‘of course, you can do anything you want’. I wish I had added that I was also a woman scientist but it didn’t cross my mind at the time.

    It’s stuck with me ever since and I try and always give cheery waves at girls out on bikes, to prove you can carry on riding a bike as you get older too.

    Thanks for the film link – will watch later

    mick_r
    Full Member

    CX and bmx do manage to attract a decent number of younger girls. I think mainly because it is so accessible (bmx clubs have loan bikes, cx is just race whatever bike you have). Also because there is a small amount of racing and a large amount of mucking about with your friends afterwards, with a bit of freedom from parents. At that age there is also a much smaller strength gap boy-girl so can work wonders for confidence.

    andrewh
    Free Member

    For all those who are thinking that women don’t like getting all hot and sweaty – have a look at how many women are out running. Plenty. And how many men are sitting around getting fat because they don’t like exercise? Loads.

    I was thinking that.
    I race running and bikes or did before the plague. At the running events its maybe 60/40 men/women at most events, unusual but not unheard of for women to outnumber men at some these, but at bike events it’s maybe 80/20 men/women Why? If anything I find running physically harder and the women seem fine at that, especially the ultras which are properly hard.

    ayjaydoubleyou
    Free Member

    If anything I find running physically harder and the women seem fine at that, especially the ultras which are properly hard.

    Long distance endurance has a much smaller physical gap between male and female, compared to recreational mtb which has quite a lot of short sharp brute strength requirements.

    Plus strength doesn’t scale, and bikes are actually a great leveller.
    I’ve explained this poorly, let me try again.
    For the 99% of my life where I’m not on a bike, my legs are carrying around a 6’1 borderline overweight body, and are muscled as such. I’m a bloody awful runner.
    But Put me on a bike on flat, or downhill terrain and suddenly I’ve got double the leg strength for pedalling and pumping compared to a more petite person, with almost none of the downsides (until the next uphill).

    My long winded point is this can be a real problem for new to the sport or new to the group women, in a mixed gender group. And I image can be really disheartening. Most of the women I see on bikes at ‘mtb venues’ are in women’s only groups. Obviously more power to them, that’s great, but I guess makes it harder for a new woman (or girl with no car transport) to find a local group.

    Scienceofficer
    Free Member

    What a great video focussing on fun and friendship instead of shreddits.

    anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    That’s sexism, right there. Ascribing characteristics for preferences to half the world.

    Indeed. Well said

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    Well our club mountain goat has run a “ladies only” hilly social ride this morning to try and encourage more of the female members to give the rides they perceive as “too hard” a go. Was oversubscribed as we are only riding in groups of 6 still as a club, so definitely interest round here.

    doubleeagle
    Free Member

    I think a lot of cycling venues aren’t particularly female friendly due to the users. I was at the FoD recently which looked like a stag do. I even had to swerve round one who had stopped to take a piss on the trail.

    If I was female I wouldn’t feel comfortable going out for the afternoon alone with the atmosphere you can find in mountain biking sometimes.

    I think very highly of Tahnee/Rachel etc, hopefully they’ll leave a legacy that changes things.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    When I was a boy, the girls in the street had bikes too and we largely played together. I think it was around 13-14 that stopped.

    FWIW my cycling role model was my mother. Her and a pal cycled round Scotland staying in hostels long before anyone put the words “bike” and “packing” together.

    As for ascribing traits and preferences to sex, that’s opening up the whole gender discussion that is not permitted on this forum but which likely does have a long term impact on female participation in sport.

    blakec
    Free Member

    I think a lot of cycling venues aren’t particularly female friendly due to the users. I was at the FoD recently which looked like a stag do.

    There was me thinking FOD had done something right as when we were there earlier this week it was a pleasant surprise just how many woman and girls were riding. The ratio was much higher than we have round in other trail centres.

    doubleeagle
    Free Member

    That’s nice to hear. The facilities there are really great. It’s a really good trail centre in general. That’s just what I happened to experience last weekend.

    malv173
    Free Member

    A lack of representation leading to a lack of participation has been a well discussed topic recently. The racism in mountain biking thread, Shimano’s All Bodies in Bikes. There’s definitely an increase in women mountain biking, and just look at Red Bull Formation. That’s a group of women showing that they can cut it on some of the most challenging terrain out there.

    But, well done Weeksy, that’s a superb display of misogyny right there. Maybe they just don’t like it? Maybe with attitudes like that, it’s not a surprise that it may take more time to demonstrate that cycling is for whomever wants to participate.

    Superficial
    Free Member

    The comparison with running is an interesting one.

    Is there more ‘inertia’ in cycling participation? By which I mean, I can ride a bike for a long time, in no small part because I’ve spent 20 years doing the same. Any new rider coming out with me would probably tire a lot quicker. So the fact that I had access to bikes at 15 still influences the way I am at 35.

    A healthy 35 year old naive to either might find running easier than cycling? Or maybe we’re all just misogynistic unwelcoming arses?

    whitestone
    Free Member

    Just gone over the figures of the club for a fell running challenge that I administer. 2470 members of which 223 are women. That’s not the whole story, that’s 50 years’ worth of membership. From the first 1000 just 63 were women, for the remaining 1470 there are 161 women. That’s 11%, about the same percentage are currently down to join this year, and pretty consistent compared to the 9 years I’ve been doing this.

    That ratio is frankly embarrassing (by which I mean for us), it’s about a half of the national figure for fell running for example. Membership is self-selecting as in: complete the challenge and you are a member, so I’m not sure why the reticence.

    Back to cycling, Lee Craigie et al. with The Adventure Syndicate do a lot to encourage girls to take up cycling and explore the outdoors.

    cookeaa
    Full Member

    Nah he’s won me round with his “Wimins has a underdeveloped adrenal gland” argument. That’s indisputable scientific FACT!

    I’m having the girls bikes crushed, in case some other poor dear picks them up and gets crazy ideas. Time to double down on the Barbie dolls too…

    As for women exercising outside?
    Isn’t the appropriate course to bully them into a peloton subscription? Heaven forbid they leave the house looking a bit chunky.

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    We’ve also covered that many women feel insecure and at risk outdoors. While women’s groups and clubs can help with this it must still be a barrier to many.

    There’s certainly loads of pretty hard women doing road and MTB round here.

    On the other side of the coin, wild/open water swimming seems to be a predominantly female activity. I’m often the only guy I see out.

    gravesendgrunt
    Free Member

    I see plenty of women and girls out riding and enjoying the same countryside ,woods and trails I do on my bike,it’s what they are riding on is different-horses and ponies. I worked at a stables for a week last year I didn’t see one man turn up only women.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    On the other side of the coin, wild/open water swimming seems to be a predominantly female activity. I’m often the only guy I see out.

    That’s an interesting one. Any obvious reasons you can think of? My FB feed has a lot of probably over 45 female friends who do open water swimming, and only a couple of blokes who do it (not counting our friends teenage son who is national champion!)

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    That’s an interesting one. Any obvious reasons you can think of?

    Nothing obvious. I, hesitantly, think “fashionable”?? As regards the “chunky” statement above, I’d say OWS is also attracting ladies of all shapes and sizes, so perhaps not have an idealised body shape is more acceptable than in running or cycling. In fact it might even be advantageous in very cold water.

    choppersquad
    Free Member

    Really enjoyed the film up there^^.
    Made such a refreshing change to all the male orientated videos that are released.
    Seeing a lot more girls out on road bikes round here but not many on mountain bikes.
    Definitely need more girls ripping it up on the trails.

    MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    I’d say OWS is also attracting ladies of all shapes and sizes, so perhaps not have an idealised body shape

    Without being disrespectful to some of my friends, that’s possibly a factor.

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