Brenda Mitchell, Belles on Bikes ambassador for the Borders and founder of Cycle Law Scotland, was joined by MSPs, Claudia Beamish (South Scotland, Labour), Alison Johnstone (Lothian, Green) and Sally Cowburn from Ms Johnstone’s office for a day of instruction from Swift Trails founder, Lucy Husband.
The event took place at the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland in Glentress on Monday 18th May.
Lucy, who is a MBLA qualified Mountain Bike Leader, spent the day teaching the group the basic skills required to take to the trails or roads independently in a bid to show just how easy and safe it is to enjoy cycling whatever your age, gender or ability.
The course was followed by a ride down the Sustrans developed Tweed Valley Railway Path.
Lucy Husband said:
“I’m delighted to have been involved in helping to raise the profile of confident women in cycling as this is the key ethos behind my own business.
“At Swift Trails, I strive to help female riders feel more confident on their bikes and to show them they are more than able to take to the trails themselves.
“We need to dispel the myths that cycling culture is all about speed and technical challenge and we should encourage more women to get out into the countryside to enjoy the “simple pleasures” of being outside in nature, with friends, keeping fit and mentally healthy.”
The maintenance course illustrated the core skills that can enable women to feel more confident about taking to the roads or trails on their own.
These included instruction on how to fix a puncture on site as well as explaining how to carry out an “M” check.
The British Cycling “M” check is a quick, intuitive and easy to remember routine for ensuring that your bike is in good working order and is safe before every ride.
The purpose behind the event was to showcase the diversity in female cycling enthusiasts and to encourage others to feel confident in their ability to head off whenever they wish.
Brenda Mitchell, founder of Belles on Bikes (Borders) and Cycle Law Scotland, said:
“Part of the reason I set up the Borders arm of Belles on Bikes is because I feel cycling is an activity that should be accessible to anyone and they should not feel restricted by technical capability and certainly not fear over their own safety.
“Through Belles On Bikes I am able to encourage other women to see how safe and easy it is to take to two wheels and enjoy their time riding on the roads.
“As a champion for cycling I believe the more women feel confident enough to ride, the bigger the impact there’ll be on our cycling culture. For example, if a child grows up cycling with mum then the likelihood is that child will grow into a young person with the confidence to ride safely.
“Often the concern over what to do if you were to get a puncture whilst out alone is a common factor in putting women off. This is why I wanted to highlight the fact that anyone can learn bike maintenance and once you have the basic skill there should be nothing stopping you.
“Scotland offers some of the best cycling environments in the world and it’s important riders of all abilities feel confident enough to take advantage of what’s on offer.”
Offering her support, Alison Johnstone Green MSP for Lothian,said:
“I very much welcome Brenda Mitchell’s aim to make cycling a more accessible activity – particularly for women.
“As co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Cycling, I have long been grateful for the contribution Brenda, within her role at Cycle Law Scotland, makes in this and other areas, and I am encouraged more people will feel confident about taking up the activity as a result of such efforts.
“Scotland is a nation of friendly cyclists but we’re far from being a cycle-friendly nation. Encouraging a focus on the most enjoyable and sociable aspects is key, and I believe that we are making progress towards cycling being widely accepted as the healthy and rewarding activity I know it to be.”
South Scotland MSP, Claudia Beamish added:
“How many bikes must there be across the country lying unused in garages because of easily repaired faults.
“The skills covered in the workshop will help take the mystery out of routine bike maintenance and that can only help get more women in the saddle.
“It is an absolutely fantastic initiative and I’m delighted to add my support.”