Life at No.22, Musings

Have you heard of Frocks on Bikes?

For me, it has been a recent discovery and a pleasant discovery I might add.

Having a flow-on effect, with motivation to clean up my bike that has been sitting in our apartment block shed for quite a few months.  Very neglected though still loved just not very often during the colder months.

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Here’s me, not in a frock and not in the cold.  Absolutely loved biking around the neighbourhood while housesitting in Turkey.

I have wanted to join a smallish women’s cycling group.  With my fervent searches resulting in clubs for the tight lycra types that zoom too fast down the hills around Tauranga, for mine liking.  I love to get my heart racing just not particularly partial to picking myself off the tarmac.  So zooming too fast around town or the countryside just isn’t for me and going too slow wasn’t going to achieve me topping up my fitness.

I needed something in between.

Then I spotted something quirky, something fun, something that might just fit “Me” to a T.  In this particular case, it started with an F as in Frocks on Bikes the Tauranga chapter.

While I reignite my relationship with said dusty web filled bike and wait for the next Frocks on Bikes event, let me share some information regarding how important it was for women to have their own bikes.

What did cycling mean for women 100+ years ago?

Old style photo woman on bike_edited

You can imagine the incredible feeling of freedom experienced by women when the safety bicycle was invented in the 1880s. Cycling was an activity that women could do equally with men.  This activity of biking helped spur a growing movement of women who wanted to wear pants, first it was the biking bloomers.  Next came the rational dress movement, as there was a need for more practical clothing, so the bicycle really is tied in with the history of feminism and the suffrage movement.

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Miss Darrow with her brothers in Thames around 1885 (though not known to be a suffragist but this is a lovely photo of a woman in the 19th Century NZ enjoying the freedom of riding)

NZ women were [and still are] huge enthusiasts for biking. Kate Sheppard was one of the pioneering cyclists and a member of the Atalanta cycling club in Christchurch. Kate and the suffragists used their bicycles, collecting many of the 32,000 signatures that secured women the vote. I thank them for their activism, determination and acknowledge the role of the bike in the emancipation of women.

Kate Sheppard’s great, great niece, Barb Cuthbert, who is also an activist working on getting more New Zealanders cycling every day.

Just by riding a bicycle as a woman, we are all demanding freedom of the road and investment in cycling infrastructure.

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 Frocks on Bikes

Their manifesto

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Was founded 10 years ago to promote women cycling, and there has been a significant increase in the numbers of female cyclists over that decade.

There are a lot more women on bikes and a lot more people cycling every day.

So next time you hop on your bike “to do something fun” give a moment to all those women before us who used their bikes to provide them with a sense of freedom and assist in their fight and right to vote.

Like those before me, I too enjoy that feeling of freedom riding on my bike.

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56 thoughts on “Have you heard of Frocks on Bikes?”

  1. Thanks for enlightening me as I’ve never heard of ‘Frocks on Bikes’!
    Image the wrath women must of received 100 years ago for hopping on a bike…
    I would be taking my life into my hands if I rode a bike here in Cosenza – doubt I’d last long with all the crazy drivers. You’re lucky you’re in a ‘civilised’ area where you can ride a bike.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d never heard of Frocks on Bikes, but I can totally see why you like this fun and laid-back group, Suz. I haven’t used my bike in ages. The winter weather and having a dog now are deterrents. While, it’s attached to the van and very close by, I miss it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do have a few cycling areas as in off the road and through parks etc. Though not enough safe cycle lanes on our busy roads. To be honest Janis I wouldn’t contemplate cycling on the road now. Too many crazy drivers for my liking.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to be a keen cyclist but haven’t been on a bike for years. The Women’s Library has one heritage cycle tour in amongst its collection of guided walks, and we have a small collection of books on the history of women’s cycling and its potential for liberation. So great post, right up my street!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like you’ve shared what was news to many of us. The only people I tend to see on bikes are all in lycra…and on the roads. I had the fantasy that if I got a bike for a birthday in myn 40s I would ride it around the neighbourhood. I didn’t do it for long. Something about heat and motivation.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Denyse #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be harder in an Australian summer. Times that we were over there at that time I got up very early before it got too hot. Motivation occurs for me when I try something new. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had never given cycling for women any thought, until your post, Suzanne. I remember being only allowed to wear dresses in elementary school. Pants around Grade 8, partially due to the bicycle? Now that you mention it, we did see a lot of people biking when we were in New Zealand. Riding a bike always makes me feel like a child again. A good feeling. Thanks for sharing an interesting post.

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    1. You are right Erica, cycling does give many of us a sense of freedom and fun much like when we were children. Though I was definitely braver when younger and used to go very fast downhill. Nowadays, if the ground is flat as far as my eye can see then I am a happy cyclist. More practice is needed!

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  6. Sounds like you’ve found a perfect group – I also don’t appreciate my body landing on tarmac or dirt or any other substrate. Interesting take on bicycling and women’s rights. I find that biking doesn’t bother my bad knee, but we’ll see after surgery.

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  7. I’ve never heard of Frocks on Bikes but as a keen cyclist I think it’s a great thing. And what a fabulous name! I’ve been one of those Lycra clad fast road bike riders for many years. I’ve lost my nerve a bit since having time off the bike due to injury. I find myself wondering why I’m torturing myself in the road and have started riding off road on the trails and bike paths. Much less stress which is starting to sound good to me #MLST Sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a fabulous name isn’t it.

      Pleased to hear you tried a new method instead of giving up which can be easy when it comes to sport as we age.

      Away from the roads and traffic is far more enjoyable.

      Like

  8. What a great idea!! If I can get back on my bike after my knee injury, this is exactly the type of group I’d love to be part of!! Might have to start one in Canada! Love the old pics!

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  9. Neat! Interesting and informative post Sue. Have fun. Biking is the least enjoyable form of exercise I can think of though so you won’t see me on one. I have the scars of childhood to prove it’s not for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Natalie, I have seen a few cycling tracks in Vancouver and they looked so scenic. I have forgotten which city you live in, though I am picking that you have numerous scenic ones too.

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  10. I don’t think it has reached us yet but I love the idea. My grandfather could remember his governess making all the boys turn to face the hedge if a lady cyclist passed wearing bloomers.

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  11. What a great group they sound Suz! Are they just in NZ or around the world? I am thinking we could start a similar group in Tumbarumba as our Rail Trail will be opened early next year and not everyone is into lycra and zooming around. Great information and well done for getting back on your bike! Shared for #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve never heard of frocks on bikes but I love the idea of riding for pleasure and not having to turn it into a lycra clad race. It seems like so many people these days need to turn everything into a competition – this sounds like a lovely alternative. I’m looking forward to reading your post when you join in!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leanne, yes I know what you mean regarding many sports becoming too competitive. Even the local mountain hike on Thursday mornings you can see people perhaps pushing themselves to hard. Nowadays, I am more into enjoying the exercise than competing.

      Like

  13. I’d never heard of this, but what a great idea! Also, thanks for the history lesson, I had no idea how tied to the suffragette movement cycling was, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, this sounds fabulous! I looked up the Facebook page but sadly none in Canberra or I would have gotten in contact. It seems they’re mainly New Zealand. Hope you get out and about lots on your bike – I must get out on mine too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe you could start your own group? Unfortunately, life events have gotten in the way of me practising on my bike. Hopefully in the next week I will get the time or I should say I will make the time to do so. I must admit it is more enjoyable when there is no cool breeze.

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