2015 saw the launch for the project Strongher.cc which you might have seen across social networking, making itself known across the world. Strongher is an initiative to promote women’s cycling, founded by Marit Huisman and Marianne Vos, who have since created a global network of ambassadors. Their aim is to promote the vast benefits of cycling to more women to increase participation. After all, there is no reason why cycling should be a male dominated sport. Strongher’s network of ambassadors is impressive, ranging from keen leisure cyclists to some of the best pro cyclists in the world.
I speak more to Marit Huisman about the project, keen to know more about her background and Strongher itself.
“I have cycled myself for many years and aged between 16-22 I was competing in international races. Then when I stopped racing, I wanted more women to have same experiences as myself and so started cycling with more female groups. Cycling can give you confidence that you need to succeed and can give you a great lifestyle, we wanted to share this with women around the world. We know that cycling isn’t always that accessible to women and that is why we created Strongher. From a beginner to a pro cyclist we want the chances to be there to have a go.”
The response has been very strong to the Strongher campaign, the following online is growing and the word is spread across the world. I asked Marit if she had expected to gain such a response? She replied ” No, never. The reaction was unbelievable after the launch and so positive. We worked really hard to get it going and now its launched more and more girls are wanting to help and get involved and that is great! Its special to see such a unique vibe between everyone. Now I’m hoping that we can close the gap so that cycling is more balanced between male and female cyclists. Of course we won’t ride as fast, although sometimes we do! However the opportunities should still be the same, we should have the same stage as the men. In the future I hope that more women join and inspire each other and help no matter what level you are. I’m hoping more companies will join us and women around the world will take up cycling, improve or start racing.”
The vibe is strong with the project, Marianne Vos is already very well known as a role model for women’s cycling. I recall at this year’s Women’s Tour of Britain hearing that although injured for the season that she would be riding to follow the race and had asked if anyone wanted to join her. Riders were reassured that Marianne would be riding at a steady pace and was looking forward to meeting local riders, and I think that the whole concept of female riders inspiring one another to take part and have a go is one of the major successful factors of Strongher.
Marit then tells me how “I have heard so many inspiring stories and the reason we started this was because we wanted to share them. From Kaylay Berdine, Emma Woodcock to Manon Carpenter and Stefany Hernadez, they all are inspiring for different reasons and you can read more on our website.”
Strongher are hosting rides across the world throughout December for Christmas which gives you the chance to get involved. In collaboration with Stongher, Love Velo are holding a December ride which will take place on 12th December in Leicestershire. You can find full details on the Facebook event page.
Photography from Strongher.cc