The IWD 2020 campaign theme is drawn from a notion of 'Collective Individualism.' We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviors and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society. Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender equal world.
We can all choose to be #EachforEqual.
We're mothers, sisters, friends, wives, adventurers. Sometimes we have the energy to conquer the world. Sometimes it's a miracle we made time to get out of our pyjamas at all.
Here are 8 women we think are pretty damn inspirational to follow this #IWD2020.
Name: Alana Blackman Lives in: Palmerston North, NZ Rides: Hard tail 29er mountain bike... and a road bike that sits on the trainer so I can do Zwift!
I ride because it makes me feel free, scared, exhilarated, challenged, relaxed and appreciative. I don’t remember the first time I rode a bike. I would have been really young, learning like a lot of kids do. Falling a lot, training wheels, and then the freedom of having a fast way to get around. You could go exploring with your friends or on your own. You could go further than ever before without having to ask your parents. Sure you fell off sometimes – trying to do a skid, trying too big of a jump, mistiming that hop up onto the sidewalk, but it was OK, you recovered quickly.
I do remember the first time I rode a bike as an adult. It was my sister’s 30th birthday and she invited me and my wife Buffy to Byron Bay for a weekend of mountain biking. I hadn’t ridden a bike for years and I definitely wasn’t able to pick up where I left off! Everyone else went out on the trails and I rode obstacles at the trail head before venturing down the first section of switchbacks and then walking the bike back up to the top.
It’s been 4 years since then and I have learned to jump (small jumps), gotten comfortable with tight turns (I only used to be good turning left), learned to ride on the road (I can’t clip in yet) and have discovered that same feeling of freedom I felt as a kid.
That was taken away temporarily last year while I underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer. I watched on the side lines at Crankworx in Rotorua 2019 while everyone else went riding (I wasn’t competing but definitely would have been riding). When chemo started I couldn’t go out riding because of the infection risk if (when, really) I fell. Losing that freedom was difficult. To be honest I coped pretty poorly. Being cooped up in my house, during the winter was not easy.
Treatment finished and Buffy took me to Ohakune, in the middle of the North Island of NZ and we mountain biked the Old Coach Road. It was my first time on the bike in months and - although I wasn’t very fit and spent nearly the whole ride wishing I had rented an e-bike - I loved it.
Since then I have learned that my cancer has spread. It’s in my liver and technically cannot be cured. Hearing that news wasn’t easy, but really was a blessing. I’m thankful for every day, and every experience. I have plans to ride much more. Buffy and I bought a house and it’s only a 10 minute drive to the trail head of our local mountain bike park!
Why do I ride these days? Because it reminds me that I’m alive.
Name: Natalie Ridler Lives in: Rotorua NZ Rides: Pretty much anything - Liv Pique mountain bike, Liv Avail roadie, cannondale cross/gravel/commuter and a vintage peugeot ladybike for commuting to work.
I ride because I simple feel happiest on two wheels. It gives me a sense of freedom, satisfaction, challenge and exhilaration. It can be social, or precious me-time. I love the biking community here in Rotorua and have met so many wonderful people whilst on two wheels!
As a new mum there's a lot to balance, and the single biggest factor to feeling like you can manage (to me anyway) is having a truly supportive partner who is alongside you 50/50 in everything you do - and I am lucky to have just that! My partner Erin and I are sharing our parental leave (I have just gone back to full time work while she is now home for the next 6 months with our daughter Nina), and we continually make a real effort to ensure we each get 'me time' as well as family time.
We know each other well enough to be able to recognise when the other hasn't exercised for a few days, or needs to blow out some cobwebs, and we try really hard to make that happen for each other.
I'd like to think we are setting a positive example for Nina so that she grows up with two parents who support each other, make time for each other, and just love having fun and adventures as a family.
Name: Pepper Cook By the time this gets published I’ll be living in Anchorage, AK- I move a lot! Rides a Salsa Fargo I ride because bikes will save the world!
In every country folks of all different backgrounds ride bikes. Bikes are magical freedom and equality machines! I am a rider for Salsa Cycles. Touring is a wonderful and important way to adventure because it allows you to see the world from the perfect speed- walking is too slow to see a country, and driving is too fast and cuts you off from the sounds and smells of nature. Women all over the world have been finding freedom and empowerment through bicycling for almost as long as bikes have been around!
1) Name: Amanda Batty 2) Lives in: New Mexico 3) Rides: Anything on two wheels
I ride because it brings me back to the simple joy of easy freedom and being in the moment, experiencing exactly what I need to be experiencing in that moment.
Women who don’t give a damn about what people think have always inspired me — women who lead, even if they’re not sure folks will follow. Women who do the right thing (even when social media isn’t watching) and who have this unspoken mission that they’re always working towards, regardless of the direction the industry leans. I’ve always admired women who are proudly exactly who and what they are in all situations, especially in person/face to face, and who don’t wilt under fire — the women who stand up and speak out and look you in the eye, but who also mentor and support and gently guide and appreciate people. The women who’ve had the most impact on me as a person are the women who work tirelessly behind the scenes To accomplish things that they’ll never get credit for doing, just because it’s the right thing. Women who educate and inform themselves, who see to help other people even if there’s no return on it, who are generous with their minds and souls... I’ve known a few and have always been utterly floored by it.
At its core, bicycling is a tool that creates and fosters freedom — whether that’s carrying water to a village or carrying medical supplies between areas hit by a natural disaster or ferrying intelligence through a war zone... The bicycle has always been both a tool and a weapon to be used for whatever women need it for, and much like women, the bicycle is often underestimated for how truly powerful it is.
Bikes are also often an entry point towards capability for a lot of women — when they realize that they CAN take care of their bikes and they CAN get better at riding and they CAN use tools and buy parts and take trips and make new friends and get involved and influence policy and do all of these other things, the bike is usually a huge catalyst for those realizations, just because it’s all little baby steps of confidence that build into this avalanche of “HELL YES I CAN DO THIS!”. I mean, I’ve seen it in girls and women of all ages as they progress on the bike and those small moments turn into massive life momentum — it happened to me. That’s where it all started for me and finding myself and having this unshakable sense of self.
Name: Toni Hodge, a.k.a. Irongirl101 Lives in: Cronulla, Sydney Rides a: BMC TM01 (TT), BMC RM01 (Road), Liv Pique 29 (Mtb), Specialized Shiv (Indoor Trainer)
I ride because I love the journey, the places you can go on two wheels. As a kid, my first bike was a Raleigh 20 and me and my friends would spend hours taking our bikes off road, cruising around dirt tracks, honing our bike handling skills, long before mountain bikes were invented.
Those early experiences instilled a passion for cycling which I returned to as an overweight adult who recognised the need to bring exercise back into her life.
From there it became a journey, where my love of cycling was enough to encourage me into triathlon, even though I had no talent at the other two disciplines. Ultraman Australia (2017) was epic, but I wouldn’t say it was my biggest challenge on the bike.
Bigger than that was Ultraman Hawaii in 2018, where the Day 2 bike course was changed as a result of the eruptions earlier in the year on the Big Island. The change resulted in significantly more climbing and, as a result, I didn’t make the cutoff on that day. Super disappointing, but determined to keep working on my climbing skills, I entered L’Etape Australia in 2019. Also know for its climbs, this would rate as my biggest (successful) challenge on the bike. I really had to dig deep for that one and there were tears at the finish line - tears of joy!
If I had a magic wand and a billion dollars, I'd build dedicated roads for bikes - routes where riders of all ages and abilities can get outside, commuting, training, or simply being active, without them (or their families) having to worry about being taken out by a car, truck or other much larger vehicle.
Black Girls Do Bike got started as a way to connect women online who love riding bikes or who were “bike curious”. We champion efforts to introduce the joy of cycling to all women, but especially, black women and girls. We are establishing a comfortable place where female cyclist can support, advise, organize meet-ups/rides and promote skill-sharing. We rejoice when women choose cycling as a tool for alternative transportation, self-care and ultimately empowerment. We look to share positive images of ladies and their bikes to affirm the truth that black girls do indeed bike! We encourage bike advocacy, education, volunteerism and safety in all communities and corners of the world.
Representation of WOC is important because it opens up minds to what is possible.
Monica Garrison, Black Girls Do Bike
It changes the way others see us and more importantly the way we see ourselves. Representation allows us to see our reflection in uncharted waters. It’s all about laying the groundwork for little girls to envision their futures in new ways.
If I had a magic wand and a billion dollars, I would start a universal early education bike program for teens to learn the safe bike operation, bike maintenance and rules of the road. I’d also create a program to incentivize folks to move away from car reliance and turn to alternative transportation options for “final mile” trips.
(Brydi was born August 2010. After she was born, her parents were told she had a mass in her spinal cord (investigations started because she was not moving her legs straight after birth). She was then rushed to the Royal Children's Hospital where the next day she was going to head to surgery to try and remove the mass. Surgery went well - they removed a benign hemangioma, 5cm long, and she started her recovery with spinal damage from T10-L4 . After 3 weeks in the hospital Brydi finally came home!! it was a long few months as her parents entered the unknown... but Brydi is a fighter and she always smiled. She still does - she is so cheeky and has come leaps and bounds. She's only 9 but already has her sights set on Paralympic glory, having started training with an Australian wheelchair racing champion, showing us all that determination, hope and faith really pay off!)
The best thing about riding a bike, to me, is that you get to do triathlons and that you get the opportunity to race! Being strong is important to me because you get to do sports that you love and not get tired.
At the moment I'm training the local duathlon. My biggest challenge before a race is making sure my equipment is ready and calming my nerves down.
One of my biggest achievements so far would be, being the youngest person to finish the Oz Day 10K (a ten kilometre wheelchair road race in Sydney in Australia Day).
#8 Catherine Flowers
Name: Catherine Flowers Lives in: Brisbane Rides a: Cannondale Super 6 Evo, races on a Felt IA16
I ride to be a happier, healthier version of me. I first came across CWRB when I was riding to Sandgate, spinning frantically in the small chain ring and wondering why I was going nowhere! I had no idea my bike even had a big and small chain ring. Fast forward five years, I have learnt how to swim, ride and run. I've completed a number of half Ironman triathlons and Ironman New Zealand. Next up is Ironman Cairns in June 2020.
Riding a bike gives me the freedom to escape any time of the day, explore the countryside, and provides the much needed space from the day-to-day stresses all women face.
Some people like to train with others, some are happy to do it all solo. You need to be aware of what suits you best and surround yourself with the right kind of people.
The biggest hurdle I faced training as a mature woman was to not compare myself to others half my age. We all have a different level of ability and fitness and that is okay.