In every sport, there are people that inspire us. Cycling is no different! Ever wonder who paved the way for bike riders today? Read about the six inspiring women cyclists listed below. Then grab your Closca Helmet and follow their lead.
Born in North London in 1914, Lilian “Billie” Irene Bartram—or Billie Fleming, as the world came to know her—didn’t learn how to ride a bike until she was 18 years old. Yet, by the age of 24, she had already set a world cycling record. On December 31, 1938, Billie Fleming was recognized as the woman who cycled the most miles in one year; riding a total 29,603.7 miles, a distance that equals more than 13 Tours de France back-to-back. While she planned to do the same in the U.S. the following year, World War II forced her to direct her athleticism to what was then a growing sport: tricycle racing. Upon doing so, she set the speed record for 25 miles on a tricycle, followed by the 50-mile and 100-mile records. Billie married another accomplished cyclist, George Fleming, and died at the age of 100 in 2014.
Source: Cycling Weekly
When Tour Cycliste Fémenin (otherwise known as “Tour de France for women”) held its first race in 1984, a new champion was born: Marianne Martin. Despite battling anemia, this Michigan-born cyclist finished the 616-mile race in a record 29 hours, 39 minutes and 2 seconds. Even more impressive? The race took place in 18 stages, spread over 23 days, and Marianne Martin held a consistent lead from the 14th stage to the very end.
Both an avid feminist and a cyclist, Annie Londonderry became the first cyclist to ride her bike across the globe. Spread over 15 months, from 1894 to 1895, her worldwide ride started and ended in Boston, and passed through Chicago, San Francisco, Marseilles, Alexandria, Colombo, Singapore, Saigon, Shanghai, Los Angeles and even Hong Kong in between. (Fun fact: Her name wasn’t actually Annie Londonberry. She was born Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, but as a Jewish woman traveling alone in the late 1800s, she thought the new name kept her safer.)
Born in May 1937, Beryl Burton is famous for holding the “British Best All-Rounder” title for a solid 25 years. Touted as one of the best women cyclists in the UK during her tenure, Beryl could keep up—and beat—both men and women alike. For two consecutive years, she broke the 12-hour time trial record by cycling 277.25 miles, and won more than 90 domestic cycling championships and seven world championships in her lifetime.
Born in France, Jeannie Longo has been setting records her whole life. As a downhill skier, she won the French schools' ski championship and three university skiing championships. After that, her coach encouraged her to pursue cycling. By the age of 21, Jeannie won the French Road Race Championship, and after that, became an Olympic gold medalist in 1996, and won 13 World and 59 French championships. While she quit competing in 2012, today, Jeannie is still regarded as the second-most decorated female Olympian in France… and of course, one of the best female cyclists in the world..
Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos was once named “the finest cyclist of her generation,” and when you catch a glimpse of her athletic accomplishments, it’s easy to see why. This cycling phenomenon can do it all: road racing, track racing, mountain bike racing, cyclocross, you name it. She’s an Olympic gold medalist, a World Road Race and World Cyclocross champion, and already one of the best women cyclists across the globe. The best part? She’s only 30 years old.