Dundee resident Alice Turpie was recently named in Cycling UK’s list of 100 Women in Cycling for 2019.
Although she joins prominent cycling luminaries such as Dame Sarah Storey and Victoria Pendleton, the list is not just a who’s who of famous cyclists. The list aims to highlight the efforts and achievements of many women across the UK who have been instrumental in promoting women’s cycling.
Alice, an architect, started an initiative to improve the carbon footprint of her workplace by encouraging active travel. Her ideas initially started as a bit of friendly competition where colleagues would log the distance they ran during the week with prizes up for grabs at the end of each month.
The categories were expanded quickly and activities such as yoga, gardening and football were added as well as, of course, cycling. This has led to her practice planning to provide proper secure bike racks and shower facilities.
The list is part of the wider remit of the Women’s Festival of Cycling to encourage more women on to bikes and a challenge for each woman who cycles to persuade one more woman to take up cycling.
TV and radio presenter Angellica Bell was another woman named in the list. She had taken part in Channel 5’s Tour de Celeb, a daunting challenge for her as she had never previously ridden a bike. Now cycling is part of her life and something she shares with her family, commenting: “I didn’t want my children to grow up not knowing how to ride a bike, so learning myself meant I could share the experience with them.”
Many of the women on the list have challenged expectations and stereotypes to become role models for their families and wider communities. Mariam Draaijer took to a bike when her children grew fed up cycling to school on the pavement. She got a bike for herself and started to accompany them on their rides to school. Her husband thought she was crazy as there were very few visibly Muslim women cycling at that time.
Since then Miriam has volunteered hundreds of hours as a ride leader, organising and leading rides particularly designed for women new to cycling. Now, 10 years on from those first school cycle trips, she works as a part-time cycle instructor. The importance of the work these women do is highly significant. It would be easy to dismiss their efforts as inconsequential – what importance does cycling play in someone’s life? Well, to answer that, I will quote the words of one mum, Uma, who had attended cycle lessons run by Mariam.
“Mariam lit up my life. I was lacking confidence and suffering depression. The way she teaches me with my cycle lessons built my confidence level.”
Cycling is great for family fun, fitness and active travel, but it has so many other benefits. Why not give it a go – your journey might just take you places you never quite expected.
You can read more about Alice Turpie on page 12.