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I was invited to give a talk at the Cambridge Festival of Cycling on Saturday 29th September. It was an event to remember, not only because it was in an amazing church and was well attended by enthusiastic people, but also because some of these people turned up to the event in costumes they had made from my research.  I had brought various costumes with me as props to show and tell stories about some amazing Victorian women inventors and cyclists. I dressed various people, including Cambridge Cycling’s head mechanic. I was then delighted when two women from the audience stood up and generously demonstrated the garments they had made from the sewing patterns on the site. 

More about the event from the CC blog and in their magazine.
Written by Anna Williams

It’s not often that you sit in a historic church watching a lady stand on a chair to reveal her undergarments, but then Bikes and Bloomers was no ordinary event. The audience sat rapt as Dr Kat Jungnickel explained how a handful of innovative Victorian women ‘made their bodies fit cycling’. They worked around the social and sartorial constraints of the times to create practical and yet respectable items of cycle wear.

It’s not often that you sit in a historic church watching a lady stand on a chair to reveal her undergarments, but then Bikes and Bloomers was no ordinary event. The audience sat rapt as Dr Kat Jungnickel explained how a handful of innovative Victorian women ‘made their bodies fit cycling’. They worked around the social and sartorial constraints of the times to create practical and yet respectable items of cycle wear.

At the end of the talk, re-creations of some of the items of clothing were tried on, with one pair of bloomers being fitted to Catherine Thompson, head mechanic at Outspoken Cycles. She had previously given us a highly entertaining and informative guide to puncture repair (she has a great tip for getting tyres back on without using tyre levers). The talk was accompanied by plentiful tea and cake supplied by members of the Cambridge Ladybirds WI. There was an opportunity to burn off the flapjacks, chocolate and pecan brownies and lemon cake later, as Camcycle led a short ride around town ending outside the Senate House. This was exactly where protestors had burnt an effigy of a woman on a bicycle in 1897. Over 100 years later the mood had changed – this time it was just pure celebration!

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