We Celebrate Amazing Women in Cycling for International Women’s Day 2021

Biola Babawale

Biola Babawale chairperson for Velociposse cycling club

Biola chairs Velociposse, a London-based women’s cycling club, and is also an ambassador for Velocio.

“Cycling has given me deep, diverse and fulfilling friendships. Through cycling, I’ve had the chance to connect with people from all walks of life that I would not otherwise have crossed paths with.”

What was your route into cycling?
I spent most of my childhood on bikes in my local park. And sadly, like a lot of girls, I stopped riding during my adolescence. I rediscovered cycling while at university in London, using it as a means to commute. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2018, when I was looking for a sociable way to stay fit, that I turned to cycling as a sport.

I found Velociposse, my cycling club, and they were very welcoming. With their help, I bought my first road bike, started racing and discovered my love of track.

Biola Babawale

What does cycling give you?
Cycling has given me deep, diverse and fulfilling friendships. Through cycling, I’ve had the chance to connect with people from all walks of life that I would not otherwise have crossed paths with. It has also given me a fun way of keeping fit whilst connecting with nature. I’ve definitely seen a positive change in the way I view my body.

My motivation to train comes from a desire to go on exciting adventures and venturing up stunning mountains with friends. In addition, I love racing, and being part of the competitive side is exhilarating.

Did you face any hurdles when first getting into cycling?
I did confront quite a few mental hurdles, in particular the perception of how dangerous cycling on the road is. There’s still quite some room for improvement of cycling infrastructure, but it’s certainly come a long way from 10 years ago with more segregated cycle lanes.

Another concern that I had was being stranded out in the middle of beautiful fields with a flat tyre. With a few online courses and tonnes of practice at home, I feel quite comfortable about sorting out most mechanical issues that could arise on the road.

Biola Babawale with friends at a cycling track

What also used to play on my mind was that as I was so new, I’d slow everyone down, and I’d be a burden. But that was not the case at all! Velociposse is such an inclusive club, and all the more experienced cyclists were great at sharing their passion for cycling. I never felt like I was slowing the group down, and riding regularly with them in Regent’s Park, I was able to get much stronger.

What would you say to encourage women who are nervous about trying cycling?
Please give it a go! A huge part of the fun of cycling is meeting other cyclists, so I would encourage women to get in touch with their local cycling clubs and go on a beginner or social ride out. You’ll have more experienced riders who will be on hand to provide support and give you tonnes of great advice.

Biola Babawale reflecting on the future of womens cyclingThat being said, I think the best way for growing confidence on the bike is improving bike handling through slow skill sessions.

You’ll feel like a boss on your bike, completely in control, but importantly you’ll be able to handle the unexpected. I’m a firm believer that there’s no point in going fast without control.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in the cycling industry?
Through being more visible, I hope to inspire more women and girls of colour to get involved in cycling and racing.

As chair of Velociposse, a London-based women’s cycling club, I want to encourage more women to feel more confident cycling, be it commuting or for sport.

What do you think the future of cycling looks like?
One which fosters an environment where women and girls of all colours and from all backgrounds use bikes for fun, fitness and as a mode of transport. In the future, there’d be more women and girls of colour at the highest, competitive level of sports. Meanwhile, there would be equal coverage of women’s cycling events, alongside equality in pay and prize money.

Next: Sandra Waschnewski

Leanne Kelsall

Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Journalist

Leanne jumped ship from a sleepy suburban town to the Big Smoke to pursue a career in creative writing and advertising. She now freelances as a luxury travel and lifestyle journalist for Luxurious Magazine. As an avid storyteller, she combines her love of the written word and luxury travel to review trending and undiscovered hotels, restaurants and events. Recent adventures have taken her as far as Fiji, Iceland and New York to discover what really makes the world’s top hotels tick. As well as writing, her passions include boutique luxury escapes, fine dining, theater and music events, alongside a keen interest in fitness having been a previous British swimming record-holder and a current fitness/figure champion.

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