CYCLING: Women’s cycling is an uphill battle

By Rory Merriman

by Gazette Reporter
0 comment

Cycling, a sport entrenched in deep-rooted traditions, which has historically favoured male participation, perpetuating a narrative that has limited the inclusion of women in competitive cycling.

Traditional gender roles and stereotypes have painted cycling as a predominantly male activity, shaping both the perception of the sport and the opportunities available for women within it.

One glaring issue that women cyclists in Ireland face is the decrepit emphasis on the growth of women in the sport, an issue that extends beyond the competitive aspect, venturing into leisure side if things.

41-year-old Aisling Barry of Lucan Cycling Club spoke to The Dublin Gazette about her experience as a female cyclist in Ireland.

“I moved to Dublin about 15 years ago and I joined Lucan cycle club to meet people, as it was more from a social aspect of things. That’s when I realised there was a competitiveness to me, and I wanted to pursue it more,” the Cavan native revealed.

“Personally, I race competitively, and I’ve found the thing is finding a good club that can support and facilitate you. That then gives you confidence and then you can move up to the next group and so on. Lucan have great structures in place and we’re really lucky to have a club like them around.”

Aisling Barry of Lucan Cycling Club spoke to The Dublin Gazette about her experience as a female cyclist in Ireland.

“The women’s commission has really put a focus on equality for women in the cycling, always trying to push women into the sport.

“I suppose myself and the likes of Jen Bates, Orla Hendrahen and Valerie Considine have done so much trying to bring women’s cycling on an even keel with men’s cycling,” she told the Gazette.

Jennifer Bates, a member of the women’s cycling commission living in Lucan told the Echo: “There needs to be more work done in clubs to get women involved. We need to have leaders out on the spins so that we’re almost nurtured from the beginning. You need to get them on board, help them develop and then get them out racing.”

“It is quite intimidating because sometimes you might be one woman showing up and having to cycle with 10 men. Rule of thumb is they’re stronger than you, they’re faster than you so sometimes you could drop off on your own and not know where you are,” she told the Gazette.

A competitive cyclist now, the 36-year-old, like all cyclists, started out cycling as a bit of fun but was quickly hooked on the sport.

“I started cycling after I signed up for a charity cycle going from Dublin to Galway. It’s a charity run by The Laurels pub in Clondalkin, where they raise money for the Crumlin Children’s hospital that they run every year, “ Bates told The Gazette.

“I originally took it on as a new challenge and it kind of snowballed from there. I realised how much I enjoyed it and that’s how I ended up in Clondalkin Cycling club.”

Speaking on the competitive side of the sport, Bates revealed: “There’s a lot of women who are leisure cyclist, but when it gets to racing, I’d say it’s probably 90% men.”

“It would be great if it was just women but unfortunately, it’s not the case. You’ll often rock up on a Saturday hoping for a women’s only race, but if you turn up and there’s only 6-10 of you, well then, your thrown in amongst the men or else you just don’t race.”

“When you’re looking up cycling clubs to join, they don’t advertise anything to do with catering for women so a lot of the time we’re afraid to show up,” Bates added.

As the wheels of change continue to turn, it is crucial to celebrate the positive strides made by these women and continue working towards dismantling the barriers that have hindered them from fully embracing and excelling in competitive cycling.

“I think because cycling Ireland are a government body who we pay membership to, they should push and pursue summer camps and clubs to encourage cycling because it’s a really fantastic sport,” Aisling Barry said.

“There’s longevity in it, it’s not like running where you can pick up injuries. With cycling you can cycle for life.,” she added.

Aisling Barry and Jennifer Bates  in the Wicklow Mountains and Aisling on her own in other pic

Related Articles