As you can see, I'm excited to have been shortlisted for a Cycling Woman of the Year Award. My name appears among those of some amazing women who do a lot for cycling in their communities and inspire and empower other women to get out there and ride, and fix their own bikes.
Jenni Gwiazdowski is among those - and I want to give a shout out to her. From the off, I've been secretly hoping she'll win, and here's why. Jenni is the founder and powerhouse behind the fantastic London Bike Kitchen, a DIY bike fixing space, where everyone is welcome. Her WAG (women and gender variant) classes and WAGFests have helped bring more women and those with non-binary gender identities into cycling, and empower them with mad skills once they're there.
Her work ranges from organising whole festivals with debates on how women are portrayed by the industry to just improving representation of women and gender variant people in cycling. In short helping people, whoever they are, learn to, in her words, #fixshit, and ride with confidence. Jenni is a total hero, and having only glimpsed just how hard she works to keep LBK the fun, funny, welcoming and community-spirited place it is I have enormous respect for her.
I always remember going into the shop in its early days, when some kids from the local neighbourhood came in with a battered bike and left with it repaired, free of charge. That kind of sums it up for me. Also - if you aren't signed up to her hilarious newsletter, you should be.
Last year, Jenni wrote a book called How to Build a Bike. It's a beautiful piece of work, which she has made as helpful and diverse as her own business. I bought a copy and love it - it's full of gorgeous images of machines being lovingly repaired, with clear instructions, and one day I hope to use it to good effect, to build my own frankenbike.
Through the hard work, stress and sleepless nights of running her business in a challenging environment, and writing a book, and doing the public speaking that comes with all of that, she always seems to have a smile on her face. I for one find Jenni a huge inspiration, and for me she is cycling woman of the year.
For my own part, I've been quietly hacking away at cycling journalism for some years now, in the firm belief more people cycling is just good for everyone, from our mental and physical health to our public spaces. As with many of us in the industry it's been badly-paid, but it comes with its own perks, and I consider myself pretty lucky that I get to do it. Cycling is something I strongly believe in, which is why I keep doing it.
I hope to have some exciting news in the coming months (it’s not a bike baby), so watch this irregularly updated space.
It’s pretty typical of me that I decided to write this after voting has closed, but whatever - the winner will be announced at the BikeBiz awards, which this year is gently nestled within the London Bike Show in February. I might see one or two of you there. Come and say hi. And bring a cape.