Scotland’s Pedal Power: FINDRA, UCI World Championships, and the Unyielding Spirit of Cycling

Scotland’s Pedal Power: FINDRA, UCI World Championships, and the Unyielding Spirit of Cycling

​​With its rugged terrain, deep blue lochs, and breathtaking vistas, Scotland has long been known as a cyclist's paradise. So, when the UCI World Championships chose our beloved land as their stage, it wasn't just a win for Scotland but a testament to our deep-rooted love for the sport.

At FINDRA we are big fans of the outdoors in general, whether that’s walking the dog, paddle boarding, trail running or cycling we all enjoy spending time in nature. It was my love of mountain biking that led me to start and build FINDRA. So having the championships hosted at Glentress, just along the valley from FINDRA's hometown, made it even more special.

Every bend, every trail, and every uphill at Glentress echoes with stories of countless cyclists who've embraced the thrill of the ride. It's our backyard, our playground, and to watch the world's best cyclists compete on these familiar trails was nothing short of surreal.

Watching our local hero Isla Short put in an incredible effort in the women's cross country final on Saturday was just phenomenal, the commitment, power and determination she showed was so inspiring. In the afternoon we literally followed the men's Cross Country event from one section of the trail to the other, watching with excitement and anticipation as Tom Pidcock led the way and rolled into the winning position to the finishing line with the backdrop of the stunning rolling hills and valleys that we know and love so well, wow!

It was a great week and success for Scotland and for cycling, but for me, the week wasn't just about the competition. In the background, I was fortunate enough to be involved in several events and activities that delved into the power of the bike and led to some great conversations in particular the role of women in the cycling industry.

I was invited to take part in two panel discussions around innovation, inclusion and diversity.

This first event was held at the Glasgow Science Centre as part of the 'Can Do Innovation' event program around the #artofpossible. The panel shared their business stories and how innovation played a major role in their business success, leading the way in the Industry and offering practical alternatives to existing ways of doing business. The second panel was held in the Scottish Borders and revolved around the subject of innovation, inclusion and diversity. These discussions weren't just academic; they were rooted in the reality we see every day.

Why, despite such a thriving cycling culture, do we see such low numbers of women cycling in the UK? And more critically, why is there an underrepresentation of women in the UK cycling industry? These questions are essential and need addressing. Cycling is not just a sport; it's a way of life, a means of empowerment. When half the population is underrepresented, it's a loss for the entire community.

Whilst the UCI World Championships in Scotland showcased the pinnacle of cycling talent, beneath the surface of these races was a deeper narrative – one about inclusion, diversity, and the power of community. As fans and enthusiasts, we witnessed the spectacular races, the undying spirit of the cyclists, and the unmatched beauty of our trails. Still, alongside the excitement, the discussions initiated by panels like the ones I was a part of, reminded us of the work still left to do.

In essence, as we celebrate the successes and the thrills of events like the UCI World Championships, let's also remember to champion the cause of diversity and inclusion. Scotland's 'Power of the Bike' isn't just about racing; it's about building a community that rides together, regardless of gender.

My own beliefs are that the lack of diversity and inclusion in the cycling industry can be attributed to a confluence of factors. Safety concerns, stemming from inadequate cycling infrastructure and road sharing, can discourage many individuals, especially those from marginalised communities, from embracing cycling as a mode of transportation or recreation. Additionally, the absence of positive role models (out-with the athletes) within the industry perpetuates the perception that cycling is not for everyone. The UK's sports-focused approach to cycling, rather than seeing it as an intrinsic part of daily life as is often the case in Europe, further contributes to the exclusion of diverse voices. To bridge this gap, a holistic effort is needed to create safe environments, establish inspiring role models, and reshape the cultural narrative around cycling as a universally accessible and empowering activity.

In the early 20th century, the bicycle emerged as a symbol of freedom, liberation, and emancipation for females, catalysing profound societal changes. Beyond its mechanical function, the bike granted women newfound autonomy by providing them with a means of independent mobility. This newfound freedom of movement was intertwined with broader societal shifts, coinciding with women's suffrage movements that were advocating for the right to vote. Visionaries like Susan B. Anthony recognised the bicycle's potential to redefine gender norms and empower women. Not only did cycling give women the practical ability to traverse their surroundings, but it also influenced how they dressed, liberating them from the constraints of restrictive clothing. The bicycle's legacy is imprinted in history as a vehicle that propelled females towards equality and a reimagined sense of self-determination.

It was my own sense of freedom and liberation that I found when I was out on my bike inspired me to not only create better designed products but also to capture the spirit of the women I biked with which is why my mission with FINDRA is to empower more women to lead an active lifestyle.

We don't yet have all of the answers to these issues we still face but we do believe that we can in our own small way make a difference. Having a voice and having a platform and opportunity to share that voice is a positive start. For the team at FINDRA we also believe in leading by example which is why we finished the week of the UCI World champs with a FINDRA social bike ride.

Our bike ride brought together a group of 8 likeminded women who love to ride their bikes, get out in nature and enjoy some chat and laughs with each other. It was a fun ride, taking in some of the breathtaking landscapes of the Glen Estate in the Scottish Borders, out 3 hour round trip brought us back to FINDRA were we enjoyed a freshly made cup of coffee and slice of cake, because surely the best part of any bike ride is always the coffee and cake!
Alex x
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