‘You’ve got to be prepared to be the only female in the room’

Rebecca Morley catches up with last year’s BikeBiz Woman of the Year finalists to talk about their experiences in the cycle trade. Today, we hear from Alexandra Rico-Lloyd, co-founder of kids bike subscription service the Bike Club

This piece first appeared in the April edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here

I was a commuter cyclist, turned road cyclist who grew their newfound love of cycling into a fully fledged business. We set out on a mission to make cycling accessible for the next generation and now have created over 40,000 cyclists. Some say we took x+1 to the next level, and they’d be completely right.

Life is full of proud moments. It’s always an ego boost when we raise new investment, or execute a large marketing campaign but it’s the small moments I’m most proud of and have the largest impact for me. I love feedback from our members about how cycling helped them connect as a family through lockdowns, or how a child with autism rides their bike after school to unwind.

However, my proudest moment with the business remains paying our first employee. As a founder I’d worked for so long by myself and being able to employ someone to join the journey with us was such a pivotal moment; we’ve since gone from me at the kitchen desk to 100 skilled employees throughout the business helping make Bike Club’s vision a reality.

Is the gap closing?
This question always makes me tear up slightly as I fundamentally feel progress is much slower than it could be. My parents taught me to believe I could be and do anything I set my mind to. However, the reality is that once women are of child-bearing age society views them differently – our place is still in the home.

There are many great role models out there for young girls now, but those girls will face so many hurdles compared to their male counterparts. I hope those men are also able to step up and be role models for the future generation – by doing the school run and changing nappies but also by encouraging their daughters to be sporty, active and assertive. It will take many generations to close the gender gap and unfortunately Covid-19 has delayed this by another 34 years.

There are so many women doing such great things in the cycling industry, but the outdated ‘gentleman’s club’ atmosphere still remains. Take Pickwick Bicycle Club for example, which still remains an exclusive ‘Boys Club’. I look forward to the day when a female is invited into the circle, they’re missing out on great talent and incredible women!

Through the Bike Club we are able to inspire and support many young girls to enjoy riding. However the job doesn’t stop there. Over two-thirds of teenage girls have quit sport altogether by the time they are 16 and 17. I like to think we can change the world through kids bikes, but the reality is much change is required across many industries.

Reaching out
You’ve got to be prepared to be the only female in the room. Luckily for me I enjoyed air cadets as a teenager, and then worked in a male-dominated tech industry so I was no stranger to this. 

For some though, it can be daunting. Know that there are great men and women in the industry keen to support innovation and don’t be scared to reach out to someone who you might feel is beneficial for growing your network. 

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