Cycling is the perfect female sport – we just need more women in it!

Combining training, transport and therapy

There are 10 times more men in road cycling in Denmark than women1. And although Danish professional female cycling is gaining ground in Danish media, I think a lot more women should benefit from this amazing sport, and the club environment that goes with it.

It is social, meditative, physically gentle, healthy, scalable, practical and possible to do with my partner. I see it as the perfect combination of training, transport, and therapy. A breathing space in my busy life where I can escape and go on daily mini-adventures, alone or with friends.

So why aren’t more women into road cycling then?

Well, I think it is a combination of a few things:

  1. It’s expensive,
  2. all that gear can be confusing,
  3. cycling is a male-dominated sport with a strongly enforced culture that can intimidate women.

A Female Cycling Apprentice

My name is Katrine, I’m a cyclist and cycling is such a big part of my life that I’m spending most of my wake time thinking about cycling, researching cycling and training. I think it’s safe to say that I’m addicted. But it was not long ago since I was a complete cycling ignorant with no idea of what the sport had to offer both sports wise and culture wise.

I’m a female cyclist apprentice since 2017. Since then I’ve been on a journey from beginner to a licensed competitor in the female B division in Denmark.

Being a female cyclist apprentice is hard work. I had to learn about all the “hardware” of cycling. Something that honestly did not interest me, to begin with. To my surprise, I also had to learn to navigate in a culture and a fashion with conventions created by great personalities and great sportsmen. To be fair, I think it’s the same hard work for men and women, but it seems that men are more likely to be motivated by these comments, whereas women are intimidated.

We want more women on the road. And we are working on it! If we could only create a community where women can look for female-specific guidance and a soft and fun introduction to cyclist culture, perhaps we could attract more women and engage those that are already cyclists.

This led to the creation of Vélorina. 

A project that seeks to demystify cycling and provide guidance to other female cyclist apprentices. I use my own experience in the cycling world to open up topics that might be hard to talk to male cyclist about or even tabooed.

We also seek to empower female cyclist to feel confident with gear and clothing, enabling them to judge what setup is best for them.

Velorina with her Argon 18 Gallium
"We want more women on the road. And we are working on it! If we could only create a community where women can look for female-specific guidance and a soft and fun introduction to cyclist culture, perhaps we could attract more women and engage those that are already cyclists. This led to the creation of Vélorina."
Katrine Bjørnholm
Velorina

The Apprentice and the Pro

Knowing the limitations of being an apprentice myself I reached out to pro female cyclist, Michelle Lauge Quaade, and she eagerly joined to project in 2018. On the blog www.velorina.dk we have created a dialogue format we call “The Pro and the Apprentice”. Here I can ask all the questions that I could not formulate when I first started but would have benefitted from knowing the answer to, and Michelle then answers with her life long experience in female cycling.

In order to make an even more tangible impact, we wanted to reach out to the women through more than the internet. One of the biggest barriers of taking up cycling as a sport is spending a lot of money on a bike and gear. We are certain, however, that it is just a matter of trying it before you see the value of the investment. Also, it often takes less than you think, when you first start looking at all the gear you need to begin cycling.  

Cycling School for Women

This led us to the idea of a cycling school for women. An intensive course, to get you started, where you borrow a bike and learn all the basics. We think we will be able to facilitate the meeting between woman and bike, and then get more women into cycling.

United cycling kindly offered to provide the bikes, thus making the course possible. The first Vélorina’s road cycling school for women will happen on the 17th-19th of May, and we are very excited to hopefully give 10 females a safe and motivating beginning to cycling. There are still tickets available, so spread the word.

> Cycling School for Women in United Cycling

We are so excited to see what else 2019 will bring, hopefully, we can inspire many more women to get into cycling.

The Apprentice and the Pro​: Katrine Bjørnholm and Michelle Quaade

About Katrine Bjørnholm

  • Name: Katrine Bjørnholm
  • Age: 28
  • Professionally: PhD student in cardio vascular
  • Cycling level: Licensed competitions Women’s B
  • Club: Arbejdernes Bicykle Club – ABC
  • Ride: Argon 18 Gallium 2019
  • Sports background: Horseback riding and a couple of Marathons
Katrine Bjørnholm is riding for Arbejdernes Bicykle Club - ABC

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The Cycling Ballerina

The word Vélorina is a merge between “Vélo”, French for bike and “ballerina”. A ballerina looks as well, as a cyclist wearing shoes with cleats, a bit goofy as she stands feet pointing in the opposite direction and walks awkwardly towards her destination. But once the ballerina takes the stage and she is in the right element, she transforms into an elegant feminine athlete. Likewise, as the Vélorina mounts her bike and they transform into an elegant strong unity.

1 Numbers provided by the Danish cycling Union DCU