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Hey girls, don’t you want to have fun in the outdoors?

Written by Fiona October 21 2010

If I were single I might head to Glentress for a spot of bike dating!

A few of us outdoorsy women were chatting on Twitter and Facebook about the distinct lack of women in the outdoors. I’ve blogged about this before. I’ve even taken to counting the number of women walkers or cyclists out and about when I’m bagging Munros or putting in the road bike miles. The conclusion: There are many, many less women then men out doing the fun stuff.

Now this could be down to personal preference. Perhaps the idea of being out in the hills or on a mountain bike just isn’t as appealing to women as it is to men.

Or as @HelenJFisher suggested, perhaps there are less women out and about because they are stuck at home with the kids or doing the shopping and housework while the men go out and enjoy themselves. This might be a bit of a harsh statement but I’m pretty sure that a good percentage of the MAMILs (Middle Age Men in Lycra) would not be able to launch their new hobby without the support of wives/girlfriends to mind the children.

Another valid point is that many women see outdoors activities as a bit too cold, wet or muddy for them. Not until they have enjoyed a splendidly warm day on the hills or paddling a river beneath a blue sky do they realise that being in the outdoors can be really rather pleasant. For example, I’d always imagined road cycling to be a bit boring and very sore. I’d imagined I’d simply get cold and wet and that the miles of cycling would seem a bit pointless (I’d only really been a bike commuter until a year ago). And then I gave road cycling a go and I realised there is so much more to it.

* Cycling is a fantastic way to see the countryside. It’s fast enough to feel as though you’re getting somewhere but not so fast that the landscape whizzes by in a blur.

* Cycling has taken me to numerous new places and even to new countries.

* Cycling is very sociable.

* Cycling can be done by people of all fitness levels.

* Cycling can take place in many different weather conditions (so long as you have the right kit for the right weather).

I have found most of the above to be true of Munro bagging, too. This is another pursuit that I’ve been converted to in the last couple of years. And sea kayaking. And mountain biking.

And so this brings me on to another point. This one is a little tangential but it’s still worth a thought if you’re a girl! Recent figures from Scottish mountain biking Mecca, Glentress, near Peebles, have revealed that 83% of cyclists are male and the majority are aged 30-39. Surely this has to be the place to go if you’re a single woman looking for a love match that’s likely to be a little fitter than the average bloke? Okay, so they are highly likely to be the kind of guy that spends more on his bike and bike bling than his going out clothes but at least he should have good legs and a flattish stomach.

Just a thought!...

And don’t overlook the amount of great women’s-fit outdoors kit that’s now flooding the shops. From more budget-friendly brands such as Regatta, through to elite-lookalike cycle jerseys,  the range of clothing that is designed to fit the feminine frame is fast growing. The colours and designs are also increasingly funky and non-male like. Thank goodness.

There are also a fine range of women-only courses and groups. This is not to say that we’re into man-bashing, simply that sometimes it’s very nice indeed to go out into the hills, or for a run, or on our bikes with women-only. Some websites to check out include:

Women on Wheels


Women-only navigation with Glentrek and Breathing Space Outdoors

Gear for Girls

She Active

And yesterday I spotted a new blog that made me feeling warm inside. Leigh, a mum who has recently moved from London to Helensburgh, has launched Filles a Velo, which aims to be a mix of chat about all things woen and cycle-related. It’s a good read – and she is obviously of the same mind as me. Leigh and I (and HelenJFisher) are keen to encourage more women to go outdoors and find some fun. If you can get the hubbie/boyfriend to stay at home and mind the kids or do some housework while you nip off for a few hours or a weekend then all the better. I look forward to seeing you.

If you’ve more suggestions of great women’s outdoors groups. clubs, websites and kit please do comment.

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