Anna Glowinski : cycle trainer, clothing designer
It's lovely! It's that sense of freedom!
"I started riding when I was about four, and racing from the age of five. I was pigeon toed and the doctor said that cycling would be good for sorting my feet out. I tried it and loved it, and then never looked back."
In fact, cycling became a way of life for Anna, and it remains so.
"I can't remember not being able to do it; its always been part of what I do and who I am. When I was small, it was something that I was good at and I kept getting better as time went on. I eventually became National Mountain bike champion when I was about thirteen or fourteen, and also national Cyclo cross champion at the same age. I was national champion several times."
But as she progressed into her teens, something began to change.
"It was odd, but I definitely went through a stage at about fifteen where I faced a bit of a change. Some people I'd grown up with in racing started to follow it really seriously, but I started to take an interest in parties and boys. At about the same time, the boys who I'd grown up with and were my friends stopped talking to me and treated me differently. I now realise that its just a stage that everybody goes through. But back then, I couldn't understand why they didn't want to know me. It was their rejection that really turned me away from the sport and pushed me towards more of a social life."
But she regained some of her enthusiasm when she went to University.
"I went to UCL and to my delight, I discovered that girls also cycled. It was great for me as I was no longer different and I could get on my bike and ride around as I had years before. When I was at UCL, getting around by bike became a rather social occupation. We would meet for drinks, or to go shopping or whatever, but it was always on our bikes."
Her previous experiences in the world of cycling came to the fore again when the need for a summer job arose.
"I started to teach Bikeability in the holidays and because I knew what I was doing from experience, I was quite good at it. From then on, I sort of fell into it when I finished at uni. I was still meeting up with my girlfriends and I started experimenting with clothes and shoes that I could wear to work and go out in without having to go home and change or carry with me all day."
Anna still works for Cycling Instructor in Southwark, but is developing her interest in designing cycling clothes for women, under the name of Ana Nichoola.
"I was working with a community project and an application had been made to LCC for funding. That never came off, but during that process, I got chatting to Sarah Slater from LCC about it being difficult for girls to find clothes that they could cycle in, still look good, and then go out in. It was Sarah who encouraged me to develop my ideas beyond making stuff for my own interests, and I started off with a show on the South Bank in September 2008."
Although still in its early days, Anna has now launched a range of cycle clothing for women who cycle but don’t want to wear cycle specific clothes.
"It annoys me sometimes that the market thinks that we have to be specifically catered for, that women who ride a bike are odd and somehow different. We're not. It frustrates me that I can't just go out and buy something that I like that allows me to ride comfortably, but which doesn't cost and arm and a leg. I design practical items specifically for women, which I sell at a reasonable cost, and which women can just buy without having to take out a mortgage to do so." Check out Anna’s stuff by following the link at the right.
In the meantime, Anna is still riding and is even known to compete from time to time:
"I've done a few rides of late and will admit to being an adrenaline junkie; I have to get my fix of careering down a hill at top speed. I was quite pleased recently to have outpaced a good (male) cross rider on a pretty technical hill at a cyclocross race, and I proved to myself that I can still do it. But that’s off road. On the road these days, I am a very slow, careful rider, and I don’t take risks. I also stop at red lights and don't do the pavement thing or one way streets the wrong way. I’ve seen too many of the people I care about get hurt when cycling, even through no fault of their own."
But despite this, she still loves the whole cycling experience.
"It's lovely! It's that sense of freedom, that sense of it clearing your head, being able to go places and see things, and just get around."