Road Cycling

A History of Women Cyclists Who’ve Blazed a Trail for the Sport

Women will ride in the Tour de France for the first time this year! Here are the historic female heroes who helped push the sport forward

Photo:  Franck Fife/Getty
Photo: Franck Fife/Getty

2014 sees the first ever ‘La Course by Le Tour de France’ race, where women will ride the famous final Parisian stage of the world’s biggest cycling event.

This is a big step for women’s cycling, in what is often seen as a very macho race (they still have podium girls ffs!).

In celebration of the occasion, we’ve taken a gander at some amazing women who blazed a trail for women’s cycling over the years – from blasphemous bloomer-wearing suffragettes to the modern-day heroines of the sport.

bad ass

1. Various bad-ass bitches

When the first safety bicycle arrived in the 1880s, affluent ladies hijacked it with gusto. Driving cars wasn’t socially acceptable, but bikes was a different matter. So what was previously the preserve of wealthy men was now a favourite of rich women instead.

It changed the social landscape, women donning (slightly) less cumbersome clothing and venturing outside without a chaperone.

“Suddenly it was much easier to have sex with a person that lived further away”

It widened the gene pool too – suddenly it was much easier to have sex with a person that lived further away.

We pretty much have bicycles and brave women to thank for the fact we don’t all look like Lannister offspring.


2. Annie Londonderry

More of a feminist icon and self-publicist than a true cyclist perhaps, but you cannot deny that Annie Londonderry was a cool lady.

This mother of three decided to cycle around the world, destroying stereotypes of women being crap at everything and succeeding in her goal to circle the globe in fifteen months.

Her journey began in Boston in June 1894, where she set off carrying only a change of clothes and a pearl-handled revolver.

She ended up seeing Chicago, New York, Paris, Marseilles, Alexandria, Colombo, Singapore, Saigon, Hong Kong, Shanghai and San Francisco, becoming a global celebrity in the process.

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