Women In Cycling – Claire Connachan

Introduce yourself (and your bikes…)

Hi, my name is Claire and my bikes include a beautiful Gazelle cargo bike for when I want to feel like a queen while doing my shopping and errands, a Specialized road bike for leisurely exploration, a Revolution touring bike for adventures and a Specialized hybrid for mopping up everything else.

What is your connection to the world of cycling?

I have volunteered in cycling for about three years as a founder and ride leader of Belles on Bikes Edinburgh, which is a social cycling group for women. I’m also a committee member of Cycling UK Scotland, and now am on the committee of the WCFS. I’ve recently started working with Cycling UK as their communications manager for the Big Bike Revival project in Scotland, and I feel amazingly lucky to be working in the sector.

What got you into cycling? (or back into it?)

I used to cycle a lot when I was a kid growing up in a small Borders village. When I moved to Edinburgh aged 8 I cycled too, until I hit my teens when I stopped using my bike. Fast forward ten years and I jumped back on two wheels for practical reasons after becoming fed up with the traffic congestion on my morning bus commute (caused by Edinburgh’s infamous tram works).

What would you say was your most significant achievement (so far!)?

Tough question. Helping others back into cycling makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it’s a great feeling to encourage women to cycle more, learn new routes etc with the Belles group. Working with a team of seven to pull off Scotland’s first Big Bike Revival was a pretty good achievement, too.

What’s your biggest frustration?

That the bicycle is underestimated and that cycling isn’t seen to be a useful, practical tool to help solve so many issues we face – health, wellbeing, the environment, transport, equalities, liveable cities, air pollution… The list goes on. It’s seen as a leisure activity that irritates most people. I also get pretty prickly when I hear the same old cycling myths regurgitated again and again.

If you could wave a magic wand, what’s the one (cycling-related) thing you’d wish for?

A high-quality network of cycling and walking infrastructure to a Dutch or Danish level, that means the bike as a mode of transport is a real choice for people.

What’s your typical day/week on cycling? And what are the rides you dream about?

My weekly cycling mostly revolves around getting from A to B – seeing friends, attending meetings, shopping, etc. At the weekend I try to get out on a longer ride, whether solo, with friends or in the Belles group or another local cycling club.

I’d love to do more cycle touring. My ambitions aren’t too exotic at the moment but I’d love to see more of Scotland by bike. There are some amazing places to explore in my home country and I am pretty sure the best way to get there is on my trusty tourer…

Who are the women in cycling you’d like to hear from next and why?

I’d like to hear from some adventuring women, to get me even more inspired to ride my bike. I am a total fangirl of Jenny Tough so it would be fab to hear from her!

Why not follow Claire on Twitter?