Photo from Grazia photoshoot, taken by David Yeo.
A fantastic opportunity came up for Vélo-City-Girl... I recently took part in a Bloggers Conference to interview World & Olympic Cycling champion Victoria Pendleton. After having watched her win Gold in Beijing 2008, this was a very exciting chance to be given!
I was invited to the conference to speak to Victoria about Cycletta: a series of cycling events created to encourage women to take up cycling, have fun doing so and build up confidence on two wheels. As the primary ambassador for Cycletta, Victoria is committed to inspiring more women to take up cycling as a meaningful lifestyle pursuit. This was a brilliant chance to ask Victoria about her thoughts on the event for the more leisurely rider, and of course talk about fashion on two wheels...
You've been listed by Red Magazine as one of the most influential women of 2011. With the launch of Cycletta, how do you hope to inspire and influence more women into cycling?
The idea is to give women the opportunity to cycle on traffic free roads, and to make it as appealing as possible. I think that women tend to band together and do things in large groups fairly easily. We [as women] encourage each other and support each other, and I really wanted to get involved with this event to promote it. I think it's a great opportunity, if I can encourage more women to cycle.
I only started cycling a year ago, and admit to initially finding it intimidating after having not been on a bike since I was 18! With you being the Ambassador for Cycletta, what do you believe are the advantages of having "Women Only" cycling events and do you feel this is a positive thing?
Yeah - I think so! The biggest draw for me is the traffic free roads, because there are a lot of women that lack confidence on the roads on their bikes There are a lot of women who are put off cycling by the amount of traffic on the roads. I think being given the chance to ride in a traffic free environment takes away that stress a bit, so that you can just enjoy what you're doing, and hopefully gain something positive from it & take forward with you. Knowing what it's like to train and ride with men, I know can get a bit competitive! Although I admit to being a competitive woman myself, this element may not appeal to all women, so removing any competitiveness may make it more approachable and encourage more women to come along to the event.
This ties in nicely with the three levels of cycling ability that are covered in the event. It's fantastic that it isn't just a "race to the end", as different people cycle at different paces. I'll be taking part in the event as a "Leisure / Commuter" rider on my Pashley Princess - clearly not a sporting bike, but that's the level of cycling that I enjoy. What would be your advice to other women like me who enjoy leisurely rides, who are thinking of taking part in Cycletta?
A Pashley Princess? Oooh, lovely! I think that when you cycle in a group like this, it will probably split out naturally, so those who want to go faster end up at the front, medium pace riders in the middle and so on. Of course, your level of ability and the machine you are riding will have a big impact on the distribution of riders. You'll probably end up cycling with people on the same level as you, so it will just naturally balance itself out. I say give yourself plenty of space and ride within your limits and don't force yourself to go beyond your own personal comfort zone. It's one of the best things that you can do, especially on a ride like this.
Now, I must ask some fashion based questions, as my cycling blog focuses a lot on Fashion on two wheels & "keeping it chic" while riding. When you are away from the track and not training, what would be the style of bike you ride for leisure?
I'm usually training 6 days a week on my bike, but when I'm not, I have an old Shopper Bike... I don't even know how old it is! It's a proper old black frame with fat pedals, massive handlebars and Panniers - it's ancient! I've got to remember though on that bike, going up hill I really can't give it too much welly because it's a bit flexible! I would love a new bike with a basket on the front, but I haven't found the right one yet.
Victoria modelling the Wayne Hemingway "Union Flag" dress
We are all very familiar with you in your athletic clothing when competing in Championship and Olympic events, but have also seen you away from that style with some of the beautiful photo shoots you have taken part in! What would your day to day cycling wardrobe consist of?
Having also done a photo shoot recently dressed in full Victorian clothing, I know that anything has to be more comfortable than that on a bike! When I do cycle into town, I'd probably be wearing flat Ballet Pumps, a nice little Blouse and some Skinny Jeans and probably my Mac - there is never a situation when a Mac is not appropriate to cycle in! It's difficult sometimes in Jeans when you're sat up on the saddle, so I'd insure the length of the top that you cycle in is ok. Don't wear too little a Blouse because obviously no one wants to see your "builders bum" when you take your Mac off! Wearing a decent length t-shirt would help avoid that!
Victoria - thank you so much for answering my questions today in regards to Cycling and Fashion! What would be your three top tips for all riders taking part in the Cycletta events?
My three top tips would be:
1) Go at your own pace
2) Invest in some cycle shorts - this is always a good idea!
3) Make sure that you are adequately hydrated and have some food / energy bars on you - if you run out of energy it's no fun. I say be well prepared like a girl scout!
There are two Cycletta events scheduled for 2011:
Cycletta South: Whipsnade Park on Sunday 11th September
Cycletta North: Tatton Park on Sunday 2nd October
Entry to the events cost £45 and the deadline for entry is 31st July 2011.
Registration and full event information can be found on : www.cycletta.co.uk