Published: 07th May 2024 Images: Scottish Cycling

BlogHER: Getting the Bug for the Bike

We asked Emily from our Young People’s Panel about her experience of getting involved in both the competitive and leisurely sides of cycling, and how she got the bug for the bike.

My main reason for getting into cycling is my Dad. One example of this was when he started a bike bus with my old primary school and this slowly started to trickle through interest into my current school, Dalbeattie High School, and a new ‘bike bus’ was started. I was the only girl taking part. But from here, one of the teachers at the school decided they could make this into something even more. So, this year a ‘Bike Committee’ was started up, of which I am now chair.

There’s only so much a school can do but I believe we’ve started off strong. Several mountain bikes have been purchased and are used weekly by the junior school to encourage them to take advantage of the local mountain bike trails in Dalbeattie forest. A few events have been held recently such as a bike scavenger hunt and a skills competition at lunch. In addition to this, at the start of March, myself and four other pupils took part in Cycle4David. This was raising money for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young). The school managed to raise a staggering £3000 over the course of the year.

The cycle with the other pupils (three girls and one boy) and a couple of teachers really showed there is so much to love about cycling. How you don’t always have to go fast to have fun. Cycling doesn’t have to be an overly competitive sport to take part in. I think my experiences through the sport I have shown this. That’s not me saying I’ve never competed in anything to do with cycling. Rather, I also find lots of enjoyment in the social side of the sport, as many others do. It’s amazing to have a chat whilst also being active. And who says you can’t have a race against each other to bring out the competitive spirit once in a while.

Over the past year I’ve taken over from my Dad for being the cycling fanatic in the family. As well as events at the school I occasionally take part in Cycling Dumfries rides, a lot more leisurely, and not to be confused with the Dumfries Cycling Club rides. Whilst being welcomed on these rides, I did bring down the average age significantly. It is great to see older people out and about on their bikes, and I believe both young and old can benefit greatly from cycling together.

I call myself a Strava Warrior. Mainly because if I post a ride one day, I’ll be continuously refreshing my feed until I get a ‘kudos’ from a loyal follower, who tends to be my Grandpa. The feeling of seeing a trophy, crown or laurel wreath pop up on one of the segments does hit me with a dose of happiness, but that feeling doesn’t come close to the happiness I get when I’m out on my bike.

On the more competitive side of my experience with cycling, I took part in the South West Winter Series which is a cyclocross series taking place over South West Scotland. There wasn’t any competition, I’m not saying that to look down on the other competitors. I’m saying that because there wasn’t any. It would seem that as you progress up the age categories the numbers seem to drop. I think the main cause of this is social norms and wanting to fit in. Maybe being caked in mud and bright red in the face isn’t the best way to do this. This is why I think it’s important that we encourage our friends, children, and ourselves to get out on a bike. Not just to do races, although this may be an end goal for some, but to socialise, take care of our mental health and just get outside to experience the world.

During September 2023 the teacher who leads my schools bike committee suggested I should apply to become part of the Young People’s Panel at Scottish Cycling. I applied but I didn’t think anything would come of it. Until a few days later I saw that I had been selected to go to an interview. The interview was an amazing experience and on the following week I found out I had been accepted. It is an amazing programme to be part of, with some fantastic events to attend. I’ve built up a lot of skills from the courses we have been on, such as one on planning. There has also been a focus on women and girls in cycling which has been great to see. I’ve learnt more about the barriers women and girls face, as well as thinking about how to try and break these, for example by having specialist events, focus groups and making cycling more accessible.


Thank you Emily for sharing your experiences in cycling with us. If you would like to tell your cycling story for our monthly Scottish Cycling BlogHer article, please email Melanie, our Women and Girls Development Manager, on: [email protected]