(07) 3891 1150

07 Nov 2017

Cycling Mums Australia: The mum inspiring women to take to the road — on two wheels

The lycra-clad crowd that rolls into a coffee shop for a post-ride caffeine hit is usually dominated by men — but thanks to cyclists like Natalia de Clercq, women are increasingly taking their place in the coffee queue.

Ms de Clercq and her friend Kass Cartia founded Cycling Mums Australia in early 2016, when they struggled to find a training space they felt comfortable with after having children.

The pair saw the need for a place for women, and mums especially, "who wanted to carve their own way into cycling, because it's been male-dominated for so long".

The Australian Bicycle Council recently found men were still more likely to cycle than women, with 20.4 per cent of men and 10.7 per cent of women having cycled in the week before their survey

"We just thought it'd be cool to get a bunch of women together," Ms de Clercq said.

"It started at a very local grassroots level … and from that grew a bigger community and a big need for women wanting to feel a bit more empowered on the bike and part of a community again after having kids.

"We were really surprised with how many women joined straight away ... it's been a real eye-opener for us, the demand," she added.

Cycling culture spreads from Brisbane to Kalgoorlie

In fact, the group's first local ride in Brisbane attracted a staggering 65 riders.

"It was chaos — we had women on hybrids and with baskets, so we divided the group and from there we've learnt quite a lot," Ms de Clercq said.

Almost two years down the track, Cycling Mums Australia has groups right across the country, with about 25 ambassadors in each state heading up local rides in places as widespread as Roma and Kalgoorlie.

Ms de Clercq said social media had been an important part of building the community — not only in size but in forming camaraderie and connections.

"[Cycling] is freedom and it's empowering to be on a bike and get to so many places so quickly," she said.

"It's very inclusive … after you have children you go through a lot of changes physically and emotionally and cycling has definitely filled that void for a lot of women.

'The professionals are what people look for'

But Ms de Clercq said there was still a long way to go in boosting women's cycling, especially for female professionals.

"The professionals are definitely what people look for, for the children to have those role models there definitely affects the everyday rider," she said.

"The sport of cycling is such an amazing thing … the history is so rich and it's just so good now to see women's cycling becoming more and more popular.

"Even last year in the Tour Down Under, having the women's race broadcast was huge and I think we're not far off seeing much bigger traction."

Cycling Mums Australia now hosts workshops on riding etiquette and how to look after a bike, aimed at breaking down the barriers that remain for aspiring cyclists.

"One of the biggest things for us has been etiquette on the road … we definitely try and get that message of politeness on the road and having that discussion with drivers," Ms de Clercq said.

'It's part of life, and mum and dad both do it

The group also hosts rides at "mum-friendly" times of day, something Ms de Clercq said came down to showing the next generation — both girls and boys — that cycling was a sport for everyone.

"I've got four boys. They love riding their bikes and we try and get out all together on the weekend," she said

"It's part of life, riding a bike, and mum and dad both do it, at different times, and all her friends."

Share Socially