Cycling Tribes: Why representation in cycling matters?


If you ask any cyclist why they love to ride they will give you a version of this.

It is my transport, my freedom, my adventure vehicle. Be it 2 minutes or 200 miles under my own steam there is nothing so freeing or levelling, not to mention all the health and environmental benefits. I want everyone to experience what I experience when I ride my bike because of how amazing and transformative it is.

Just get a bike and ride – right?

It isn’t as simple as – well; just riding a bike. There are many barriers to cycling: financial, social, perceptions of danger, lack of suitable infrastructure to name a few, but the most fundamental barrier to new cyclists – lack of visibility.

You can’t be what you can’t see. 

Humans desire to belong. It is our nature. We need to feel connected and heard. It is why cycling clubs and groups exist: and the very reason representation in those groups matters. 

In the UK, in sport & the cycling industry in general; cycling is presented as a white, male, slim, able-bodied, heterosexual, neurohomogenous and elitist activity. Just Google-Image search the word ‘cyclist’. What are you presented with? – See above list. 

When you don’t see yourself represented or catered for in cycling you get the message that it isn’t for people like you. At some point on our cycling journey we all search for a group or mentor that we can align with, a place where we see ourselves fitting in. Our Tribe. When you don’t find support you have two choices. Ride alone or stop.

If we want to encourage more people into cycling, cycling has to be more representative of the society we live in; all races, all ages, all genders, all sizes, all faiths, all abilities, all orientations. 

Finding Cycling Tribes

In the UK there are hundreds of grassroots cycling clubs that do amazing work encouraging people out on their bikes, whether they want to race, adventure or just ride socially.

It is these grassroots groups that are the true reflection of society and yet they rarely get any media attention or promotion as they are often under-resourced, run by volunteers, raising their own funding and spending countless hours of their own time sharing their knowledge and passion to inspire and encourage. 

Whilst the government, sport, media and larger charities appear keen to champion grassroots initiatives their efforts often lack resonance because of the privileged, white, heterosexual, remunerated, patriarchal structure of the organisation and money is awarded to sporting endeavours & teams that, whilst inspiring, are sadly neither diverse nor representative.

The chasm between the cycling establishment and grassroots cycling is deep and wide. The seen and the unseen, the haves and the have-nots and yet we all want the same thing: to share our passions for cycling and for people to see the possibilities. 

The Cycling Diversity Alliance is a new initiative that is building a network of minority and underrepresented groups with a shared mission to break down barriers, inspire and encourage cycling for all. An alliance that can hopefully begin to bridge that chasm and be the visibility that grassroots cycling needs to encourage more people to ride.

Cycling Diversity Alliance
Cycling Diversity Alliance

A place for individual cyclists to find their group and a place for groups to support & champion each other and represent the whole of cycling because: if you can see it – you can be it!

If you would like to show your support, find more information on finding a minority or underrepresented cycling group or are curious as to how you can make your own cycling group more welcoming or diverse please get in touch:

Sarah Round
The Bicycle Adventure Club was formed in March 2019 by Sarah Round and her wife Mary Daly. They wanted to spend more time exploring and having adventures, whilst encouraging & inspiring others to do the same. You can follow the Bicycle Adventure Club at:

Published in BIKE Magazine, click here to read

May 2021

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