Caz Nicklin

Caz is owner and founder of Cyclechic, an online retailer dedicated to providing women with stylish cycling accessories. Caz has been writing, packed full of cycling advice and style tips, for the past 7 years and releases her first book, 'The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook: Everything you need to know about life on two wheels' on 3rd April.

What does SPACE for cycling mean to me? Three things…

1. When I first started cycling in London, 7 years ago, I was one step away from petrified. I would cycle as if I was apologising for being on the road, cowering closer and closer toward the kerb with every rotation of the wheel. I did not have the confidence to take SPACE. But that all changed when I had a cycling lesson, heavily subsided by Hammersmith and Fulham Council. The instructor cycled in front of me, showing the correct position to take on the road – one metre out. It taught me about positioning and most importantly empowered me to take my space as a cyclist. An invaluable lesson that has stayed with me ever since. I would recommend a lesson to anyone who feels slightly apprehensive about starting out on the city streets.

2. Something that means a great deal to me is how cycling has found SPACE in today’s popular culture. The transformation of cycling’s image over the last ten years has been incredible. When I first set up, my mission was (and still is) to promote cycling as a desirable lifestyle choice in order to encourage more women to take to two wheels. It felt like a huge challenge, as cycling was so dominated by the sporty, masculine, Lycra-wearing brigade. But so many like-minded people have been fighting the same fight and cycling now successfully seeps its way into the world of fashion, media, business, art, design and technology. It has space in the modern world; it’s well and truly on the agenda!

3. Something that resounded very strongly with me while writing my book (The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook) was the importance of taking the SPACE to be the cyclist you want to be. I felt pressure when I started cycling, that I had be a certain type of cyclist – a ‘committed’ cyclist should cycle every day, and shame on you if you decide to get the train or bus one day or get off your bike and push for a bit because the roads are hectic! I find this attitude oppressive and know that it puts a lot of women off cycling. Enough of this all-or-nothing mentality! Cycling should be about you, personal to you. I live in Chiswick and my office is in Old Street. If I cycle all the way it’s 10 miles through some very busy areas of London. Despite loving cycling, I was not enjoying this commute, so I decided to cycle partway, lock my bike up securely and get the Tube the rest of the way. My route is now three miles each way – the perfect distance for me – and I am a much happier cyclist for making that decision. So my advice is to take the SPACE to be the cyclist you want to be. Do not be confined by expectations. It’s entirely up to you.