I have ridden with Team Glow – the all-female cycling network founded by world record-breaking track cyclist Glynis Francis – for a few years now. It all started in 2011 with her successful bid to get 100 women cycling in the Manchester 100 sportive.
Before Glow I rode solo, or, more often than not, found myself the only woman out on an organised ride. In the beginning I didn’t really do the club thing. I still don’t…not all of the time anyway.
And to me, this ability to dip in and out – the ‘give what you can, take what you need’ approach – is key to the beauty of Glow, which is now one of the UK’s largest all-female cycling clubs. I’m very proud to be a member. So, to give something back, I decided to organise a photoshoot in the Peak District.
The idea was not to present cycling as cliquey or consumerist. I wanted the images to show the camaraderie of women who love hills, adventures and coffee stops – to show also that whether male or female, young or old, the enjoyment, the laughs, the kit, the tech are all part of the same big experience and shared love for life on two wheels.
Glow is all about encouragement and the club is open to women of all abilities. There are the easier beginner rides and then there are the “Dear diary, I am f**ked” rides, and everything in between. At times it can feel like flying as you descend a hill at scenery-blurring speed, the cold wind forcing tears from your eyes and across your cheeks.
My time in the club has improved my cycling experience in so many ways… from group riding etiquette and Garmin classes to discussions of whether you wear your knickers underneath your Lycra or not.
Cycling is about being so disconnected from it all while at the same time being so connected; to the elements, the landscape, your bike, yourself, and to one another. Glow really sums up what women can do for one another and it is this feeling of support that keeps me going back.
Words and pictures by Jennifer Doohan (bikes-and-that.co.uk / 53northcreative.co.uk)