Women In Cycling – Jenny Tough

Introduce yourself (and your bikes…) 

I started cycling eight years ago when I had graduated university and had no clue what to do next – so I bought a touring bike and announced to my friends and family that I was going to cycle to the Yukon in the north of Canada, a distance of nearly 3000km. Since that long and difficult journey, I became incredibly hooked on cycle touring, and eventually all other forms including mountain biking, cyclocross, downhill, and road. Although I have grown my bicycle family, I still mostly ride my first love, Sherpa, who has been my companion for eight years and has taken me to over 20 countries on her trusty steel frame.

What is your connection to the world of cycling?

I would probably say that cycling is my connection to the world! When I started cycle touring (I didn’t even know it was called that when I first went to buy my panniers and touring gear), my eyes were opened to this vast global community of passionate individuals who love to explore by bike, with an incredibly broad range of styles, budgets, and purpose between them.

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

Health and fitness has been a big part of my life for a long time, but cycling for me is all about adventure. With two wheels I can go anywhere (tyre size dependent…) and enjoy spending time outside, seeing wonderful places, and staying healthy.

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

In the summer of 2015 I circumnavigated the Baltic Sea on Sherpa, a distance of nearly 4000km in 35 days through 9 countries. It was an incredible journey and really hard going towards the end – but writing a book about it later was arguably much harder and took considerably longer!

What’s your biggest frustration? 

Non-cyclists who don’t understand the benefits of a cycling population and believe that we are ‘menaces’ or ‘taking up space’. The ignorance is bad enough, but when some frustrated drivers start taking it out on vulnerable road users, that really upsets me. Can’t we all just get along?

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

For everyone in the land to have a bicycle and fall in love with cycling the way that I have. The world would be a much better place if more grown-ups discovered the joys of two wheels.

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

I ride Sherpa around Edinburgh a fair amount, and try to get out on my Liv (roadie) for a bigger ride, or sometimes even grab the mountain bike and head out to the hills for a muddy day. I also slave away on the turbo trainer a fair amount during the dark winter months!

One of the purposes of the Women’s Cycle Forum is to promote women who are in cycling and make them more visible – and particularly to see the end of the dreaded all-male panel. Would you be interested in speaking more on panels or at conferences and if so what about?

Absotively! I’m passionate about getting more people, especially women, to explore this wonderful planet around them, and start looking at cycling as more than just a workout, but as an adventure.

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

I would like to hear from the brands who make products for female cyclists. Without being able to buy the requisite materials, we can’t cycle, so I do think it’s really important that women are represented and understood from the very first experience in a bike shop. Some brands get this oh-so-wrong (“shrink it and pink it”), while others are getting it completely right (Alex Feechan from FINDRA, for one!).

Follow Jenny on Twitter and read another great interview. Why not read about Daisy Narayanan, Deputy Director, Built Environment for Sustrans Scotland.