Photos by Richard Lewisohn
Last Wednesday I mingled my way around a cool art gallery in Fitzrovia with a glass of Prosecco and wearing a jersey from the debut collection of Alicia Bamford’s new women’s cycling brand, Queen of the Mountains. It was launch night and I was proudly representing the brand as an ambassador.
Let me explain how this came about.
A few months ago an email arrived in my inbox that stood out from the mass of newsletters, notifications and all the usual noise. The subject line read: “Another queen” and it was from was Alicia Bamford.
She had been put in touch with me by a lady I had met whilst cycling in Dorset last year and we met for a ride in Richmond Park where we clicked over our mutual ambition for women’s road cycling. Alicia explained that her objective was to inspire and empower women to ride and provide them with beautiful and technical kit that had been designed for the female form. She told me that in February 2016, two years of hard work would come to fruition with the launch of her KickStarter campaign.
Alicia had left a successful career as a consultant in Mergers and Acquisitions to take a chance on this idea that had formed over many of her own incredible experiences cycling up mountains. She wanted to share these experiences with other women whilst also widening the options of cycling apparel available to them. Alicia strongly believes that clothing should be at least one less barrier to ride.
We met again for another ride and an interview and then my excitement peaked when, a couple of weeks later, Alicia invited me to become one of Queen of the Mountains’ brand ambassadors. Of course I agreed to it and the reason was this.
When I first started road cycling a few years ago I quite literally knew nothing about it. I built my confidence up really slowly with wobbly solo maiden voyages wearing a baggy Specialized jersey and a cheap pair of cycling shorts that had a chammy with about as much support as a mouse mat. The shorts were far too tight and made each leg look like a piping bag squeezing icing out the end of it. The scale of my inexperience was also etched into them with evidence that I was still wearing pants underneath.
I really wanted to get to grips with the sport so I started Queen Of The Mile as a way to connect with others who were maybe equally bemused by this whole phenomenon. The idea behind the name was that whatever your level of ability, you could be the queen of your own personal challenge, conquering more mileage and celebrating every improvement as you went along. This site has allowed me to meet incredible women who took me under their wing and whose stories I can share to encourage, inform and inspire others in the same position. That also goes to the men I’ve met too!
After years of hard work, Alicia launches her brand
Being a brand ambassador for Queen of the Mountains goes beyond getting sorted with free kit to wear this season. For me, it’s about collaborating with a brand that shares my love of cycling and ambition to encourage women to go cycling (and running in my case) and to have the right tools to get going.
Queen of the Mountains clearly makes beautiful clothes that are designed for the female form but there are also training rides and access to advice, support and events. There is also the sense of excitement about supporting a brand right from the start, whilst the money is being raised on KickStarter and at a time when Alicia needs voices behind the movement.
Fellow ambassadors Simone Dailey and Alice Monger Godfrey
My debut as an ambassador at the launch party felt like the start of something fresh and exciting and I didn’t have to walk around with a pyramid of Ferrero Rocher! I was really moved by Alicia’s speech and it has so far been a real insight into how much hard work and love you need to pour into launching a clothing line.
Getting ready to launch!
It was here that I met the other ambassadors, all who shared this vision of encouraging women to ride and many of whom work in cycling themselves. I was honoured to represent the brand among a group of such strong athletes who in their own individual ways inspire us to get on our bikes.
Cat Benger, Evonne O’Rourke, Alice Monger-Godfrey, Belinda Scott, Alicia Bamford, Lorna North, Katy Hopkins, Simone Dailey, Grace Swift and Cassie Mallen
It was a memorable launch and also brought exciting news that the original KickStarter target of £10,000 has been met already and continues to rise.
Cassie Mallen, Alicia Bamford and Sophie Radcliffe
Things have come a long way since I bought my first pieces of shapeless road kit and it will only continue to do so as Alicia’s brand starts to move its own mountains. I am happy that this ‘queen’ can support ‘another queen’ and conquer the miles and mountains together whilst wearing a fantastic new collection of stunning women’s road cycling apparel!
You can continue to support the project on KickStarter via the website.