Everthing started with radelmaedchen
My name is Juliane Schumacher, or simply Jule, and I have been blogging about cycling and my adventures with the bicycle on radelmaedchen.de since 2014. Cycling gives me a freedom and light-heartedness that can’t be compared to anything else. This is reflected in my blog and on my social media channels, where I share my experiences on topics such as gravel bikes, bikepacking, equipment and tours.
Crossing the magical 100km mark on a step-through city bike
I did my first long bike tour on a step-through city bike: two days through Brandenburg – on the second day it was 124km to Szczecin in Poland and so far the longest bike ride of my life. It was certainly not a thoroughly pleasant experience to ride it over the River Oder embankment and almost get blown away…. But I knew that if I could do it on this bike, there was more to come! I wanted more of it! And it became clear to me: I needed a proper bike that wouldn’t fall apart halfway under any stress.
Together with friends, I experienced my first cycling trip over almost three weeks in Ireland with a rather classic touring bike. From then on, the passion for cycling completely hooked me.I dedicated my master’s thesis in fashion design to cycling clothing for women that is suitable for everyday use. This is also the reason for the foundation and name of my blog: Radelmädchen.
The Love for Steel Bikes
In 2017, my Brompton and my first steel bike moved in. The small compact folding bike changed my mobility behaviour and from then on was always by my side, whether in the city, on the train on the way to jobs on the other side of Germany or at the famous London folding bike race “Brompton World Championships”. In 2018, I bought my first steel gravel bike: a Veloheld IconX custom build. This bike ultimately made me completely addicted to off-road cycling and bikepacking.
Over the years, the bike evolved for me from a mere means of transport in the city to an adventure and travel tool, but also to a professional focus. I work freelance in the cycling industry, writing articles, reporting on events, testing products or touring cycling regions. I also work as a social media manager.
Travelling alone as a woman: Why not?
Friends got me back into cycling – regardless of gender. Through travelling together, I learned a lot about equipment, packing lists and travel planning. Here I had primarily male reference persons. Nevertheless, these shared tours gave me the self-confidence to finally venture on my first solo trip: to Norway in the mountains – even though I didn’t have much mountain experience before. But I planned ahead in detail and felt well prepared by previous adventures.
I only then realised that not everyone had as much confidence in a woman who wanted to go on a cycling trip alone as I had in myself. Because even on further trips alone, I noticed that there were fewer and fewer women I met on the road and, that I was always approached about my travelling alone as a woman. Since then, I have been asking myself why.
… is such a valuable collective for me, because it wants to expose and clarify prejudices or alleged gender disadvantages. We are a group of very different women, with different approaches to cycling.
I want to help with this and share my experiences: Be it buying a bike, choosing equipment or planning a tour.
The big goal: to inspire and motivate others to get on a bike and explore the world – and to keep a door open for open minded men as well!
A long way
Also, as I slowly immersed myself in the world of gravel biking, I found that women were always in the minority here. I met a lot of great people through cycling, including some of the great women who are also part of this collective. But the cycling world is clearly male dominated. This is reflected not only in the industry and in the workshop, but also in the products. Slowly, women are being discovered as a potential target group, but the long journey from “pink it, shrink it” to equal, valuable equipment and appeal is far from over. But it is progressing in big steps.
And just as this development is happening, I wish that many more women discover the bicycle for themselves and that this platform can perhaps help a little bit.
Find out more about Juliane Schumacher:
Header: Jan Bubenik
Portrait homepage: Jan Bubenik
Photo Box: Florian Ebert