Women are awesome. Cyclists are awesome. But who are the most awesome women cyclists? We’ve put together a list of our five favourites. Who else belongs in this list? Tell us in the comments!
Beryl Burton was a British women’s road cyclist. In fact, for two decades or more she was the British Women’s road cyclist. Burton won everything it was possible for a woman to win on a bike, including 90 domestic championships and seven world titles.
One of our favourite cycling legends is attributed to Burton, who set the 12-hour distance record in 1967, surpassing both the previous women’s and men’s records. The story goes that while out on that record beating ride she actually passed another rider, Mike McNamara, on his way to setting the equivalent men's record miles. Old Beryl is reputed to have given him a liquorice allsort as she passed before leaving him in her dust. McNamara ate the sweet.
Burton also gets 10 extra awesome points for rocking the name Beryl like a boss.
She’s fast, she’s Dutch, she’s won all there is to win in road and CX – she is Marianne Vos. Few riders living or dead have ever held such dominance over the competition that they could really lay claim to the title of ‘greatest cyclist of a generation’. Vos can.
Here’s some fast and furious on bike footage of ‘the Cannibal’ bossing it around Paris at last year’s ‘La Course’. At about 40 seconds she hits a gap, grabs the wheel of the German champ then drops everybody in the final metres.
Give yourself 10 awesome points if you can name Vos’ home town. Clue, it begins with an apostrophe.
Not quite a ‘pro’ bike rider, but most certainly an impressive woman who definitely believed in the power of two wheels to change the world, Frances Willard was a suffragette, an author and a bicycle advocate. She wrote a book called ‘A Wheel Within a Wheel: How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle’, which explained her perspective on cycling as a way for women to gain independence, develop confidence, and be seen by men as equals in skill.
On the massive popularity of cycling at the end of the 19th century she had this to say: “Tens of thousands who could never afford to own, feed and stable a horse, had by this bright invention enjoyed the swiftness of motion which is perhaps the most fascinating feature of material life.” Amen, Frances, amen.
With the potential to become the best out and out track rider Britain has ever produced, the diminutive Laura Trott is a specialist when it comes to the omnium and team pursuit. She’s got 14 national titles titles to her name, two Olympic golds, 10 euro championships and five sets of rainbow bands too. The most terrifying part, she’s only 22.
Trott is beloved by the British public, not just for her uncompromising attitude on the track, but for her bubbly personality away from competition. Who could forget the snap of her chugging Heineken with Prince Harry at London 2012, or this refreshingly honest and perfectly unscripted interview from 2013. Skip to the 1:30 for the best story about sausage pasta you’ll ever, ever hear.
We love her a bit.
Annie Londonderry’s story is so impressive it’s actually a total nightmare to retell. There are so many details, angles and incredible aspects that you don’t want to miss out, we could end up writing a thousand word essay on her exploits alone.
Here are the essentials. Born in Latvia in 1870, she was the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world. When she set off from Boston in the United States she had never ridden a bike before. Londonderry was not her real name, she ‘sold’ her surname to the Londonderry Spring Water company to raise sponsorship cash. Her trip was called “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman” by one New York newspaper. She visited France, Egypt, Jerusalem, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Singapore en route around the world, before sailing back to California. She even entered (and won) a few local races on her way back to the east coast of the US.
Got another awesome woman cyclist we need to add to this list?