IWD: riders inspired by records, fashion and family

There are many reasons why people choose to ride a bike.  

Perhaps it’s for transport. Perhaps it's for pure enjoyment. Perhaps it’s to push themselves to the limit. 

Here are three women who, for these reasons and more, are blazing trails for others to follow.

Kristina Rivers: The aspiring record holder 

As a wife, mother of two young girls, and the owner of a consultancy firm, Kristina Rivers has plenty on her plate.  

Adding a 4000 km bike ride to the to-do list might sound like the last thing she needs. But it might make more sense when you hear that she's chasing a Guinness World Record.  

Rivers is aiming to become the fastest woman to ride across Australia, completing the journey between Perth and Sydney in less than 13 days, 2 hours and 55 minutes.  

This will be her second attempt. Her first, in September last year, was foiled by unpredictable weather.  

Her training program for round two is well underway, and Rivers has a few thoughts to share about bouncing back from failure.  

"I think when people set challenges, like Around the Bay or Peaks Challenge for example, it finishes and they measure their success against that," she says. 

"But my goal is to inspire others to take on challenges. Did I beat the time record, no. Did I do my best? Yes. What we learn from failure is part of the process of success. "  

Rivers believes this kind of thinking can help increase women's participation in bike riding.  

"I think we have a culture around sport, and for women in sport, that if we fail it's a bad thing," she says. "If we reframe that culture and expectation to one in which it's OK to give hard things a go, we can remove fear of failure, and things become more inclusive." 

You can follow Rivers’ journey on Instagram here. 

Barbara Spooner: The new-age stylist 

Barbara Spooner says everyone has a right to feel comfortable when they’re on a bike. The lycra kits favored by many may be lightweight, aerodynamic and breathable, but they aren't for everyone.  

So Spooner came up with her own apparel, with less emphasis on performance and more emphasis on comfort. And still with plenty of space for fun, color and eye-catching floral embellishment.  

Birds on Bikes is Spooner's cycling clothing label designed “to flatter the female figure”. 

“By prioritising fit and style, we make it easier for women to find apparel that fits and looks great,” she says. “And comfort and an improved riding experience encourages more women to join in the activity.”  

Birds on Bikes makes every effort to craft its apparel from sustainable materials, and it also actively supports organisations that mentor and advocate for female riders .  

“Women have the potential to experience true liberation on the back of a bike,” Spooner says. “Establishing a connection with a network of cyclists, taking part in local rides and events, taking classes, and doing research into bike riding can all be of great assistance.” 

Spooner also points to the potential of cycling clubs, online discussion boards, books and magazines to help women “gain the self-confidence to take to the road on two wheels”. 

You can learn more about Birds on Bikes here.  

Jo Curtin: The mother and seasoned commuter

Jo Curtin has moved around Melbourne on a bike for many years, but these days she has extra cargo on board.  

Her three-year-old daughter not only serves as an enthusiastic travel companion, but also plays her own small role in improving rider safety.  

“People definitely respond differently to me as a rider when I have my daughter on board,” Curtin says. “The more women and families who are visibly taking up space, the safer riding becomes.” 

Curtin is impressed by how much progress has been made in making her city a better place for bike riders, and says that every time she finds a new separated bike lane “I just want to high-five someone.” 

And when it comes to helping women commute and travel around the city more safely, Curtin sees huge potential not just in bikes but in other forms of micromobility such as e-bikes and scooters.  

“I want my colleague who rides an e-scooter to work to be just as safe and having just as much fun as my colleague who rides a bike,” she says. “Most of us use multiple forms of transport and we also ride in all sorts of ways for recreation. Recognising the broad diversity in why and how we ride is a start, and we can begin by embracing whatever choices women make that are right for them.”  

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