10 minutes by Keira McVitty
"I love cycling so much in fact that I have spent the last 4 years of my life making youtube videos and trying to shout from the rooftops about this sport that is so dear to me"
My name is Keira McVitty, I’m a cyclist through and through and have been immersed in this wonderful bike world my whole life. From racing road and track at 12 years old to later on being involved with all kinds of cycling. Fixed Gear Criteriums, Cyclo-cross, Brompton racing, Gravel racing, if it has 2 wheels I’ve most likely given it a go. I love cycling so much in fact that I have spent the last 4 years of my life making youtube videos and trying to shout from the rooftops about this sport that is so dear to me.
I also have the cumulative experience of being a fourth-generation racing cyclist. Growing up in a family where both my mum and dad raced has had lasting effects and gives me an insight into change in cycling over a longer time than just my own years.
I should also mention at this point that I am a woman, which people so often overlook when you say “Cyclist”. Why is it that when you hear the words professional cyclist you don’t first imagine a woman, even if you are a woman?
Growing up I never saw a female professional cyclist, and although I didn’t think about it at the time I had no idea that such a thing existed. Luckily for me I had the strong female role model of my mum to guide me into the sport, but looking back it was a very sad thing to not know about the top female cyclists of the time. I was only aware of women racing from the stories my mum told me, and from what I could understand my mum was one of maybe 50 women in the whole country who raced. She had very little opportunity to race other women, never mind even considering it as a viable career path.
My childhood sporting idol was and still is Kelly Holmes, who I watched run to double gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics when I was 9 years old. With Kelly and my mum inspiring me I ventured into the world of cycling and to chasing the dream of being a professional athlete.
I was always exposed to strong women, but I realise that this invisibility of many great female athletes, particularly in cycling meant that other little girls like me wouldn’t have been able to dream about being a professional cyclist.
"The TDF Femmes, the first ever women's Paris-Roubaix, and the addition of a mixed relays category at the world championships"
Fast forward 15 years and we are in a year of magnificent change across womens cycling and women’s sport in general. 2022 was the year that we got to see the best cyclists in the world compete on the world stage – it just so happened that those cyclists were women.
New races like The TDF Femmes, the first ever women’s Paris-Roubaix, and the addition of a mixed relays category at the world championships were all broadcast globally to millions. Pouring out from this explosion in womens cycling are exciting races, new heroes, icons, rivalries and finally we are starting to know the stories of these great athletes who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of being the very best.
Continue to watch it, be inspired by it and support it! It's the small things that make the biggest impact.
So what needs to happen for this equality of opportunity to continue to rise? In my opinion the push for change has always been there, but with consistent effort sometimes it feels like no progress is being made and then suddenly things shift in an unprecedented way. Those who love the sport should continue to watch, be inspired by and support it and to speak up and make the difference where they can. It can seem like an overwhelming task but in reality it’s the small things we can all do that will continue to move the needle forward.
"Documenting my cycling adventures through the medium of youtube gives me the opportunity to share the stories of other women in cycling that I have met along the way"
I myself am not a pro anymore but I am fortunate enough to travel the world riding my bike, in order to spread my love for this sport. Documenting my cycling adventures through the medium of youtube gives me the opportunity to share the stories of other women in cycling that I have met along the way. In turn this will hopefully inspire more people into the sport and ultimately create new fans to watch women’s cycling. For my mum she continues to ride her bike and tune in to watch the femmes, for others they follow their favorite athletes online, organise group rides or inspire the women in their lives to give cycling a go. Even the smallest things over time can make huge differences.
We are on the cusp of a revolution within sport and wider society, women want equal opportunity and it will continue to be pushed for by the most driven and determined of all women, the athletes. No longer second fiddle, we will see Women’s sport in another 15 years will become a whole different landscape. People won’t question why women should be given the same opportunity, it will just be obvious that everyone wants to watch the greatest athletes do what they were born to do, in both the women’s and men’s events.