Okay, this was definitely the better book to read of the two I bought. This one was much more UK flavoured, but still had some characters from the USA (and wider) make an appearance.
This has a lot more of the historical detail, though still largely a ‘who’s who’ of lady cycling history. There are some truly astonishing women though, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Billie Fleming, Dervla Murphy, Juliana Buhring, Beryl Burton, among so many others, names I had never heard of but should have. All of their feats are extraordinary and deserve much more attention.
I was once again just amazed at the breadth of women involved since the beginning of bicycle, and the constant battles they faced just to be able to ride. I’m still annoyed at the exclusion of women from races and professional sport for so long, even with relatively new sports like mountain biking and cyclo-cross.
What is also kind of fascinating is that so much of the exclusion was not government, but all the different organisation bodies, from local cycle groups, to wider international sports bodies (like the Olympics). From leagues banning women (and venues that allowed women’s racing) in the nineteenth, to the current poor pay and options for women’s professional cycling today.
Despite all the barriers put up, I’m left with the overriding impression of all these interesting, varied, and determined women. Some who were driven to be the best, but others who were (for lack of a better word) just completely normal people. It’s really nice, as a pretty basic cyclist, but one with ambitions to do longer rides (best so far is two Ride Londons) – it definitely makes me feel that I can accomplish a lot more.
It is such a good book and I loved reading it. Definitely a good one for those interested in the history of cycling!