I would recommend joining a cycling club to any keen cyclist. Whether you want to improve your cycling, meet other people or just have some company whilst riding it’s something worth doing. For myself it’s been beneficial to my cycling, has introduced me to time trialling and I have met some really great people too. I was quite interested however as I had noticed that dotted around there do seem to be quite a few women’s only clubs. I wanted to speak to a few clubs to see what the background was to these clubs and also about their success.
On my doorstep here in Leicester we have Leicester Women’s Velo who were the first female cycling club to establish in the East Midlands. Lindsay Ball the chair of LWV explains ‘the club was set up in 2013 and we now have around fifty-two members riding throughout the year, our strap line is “freedom and friendship” because this is what were all about really’. Members can take part in regular club rides, socials, trips to cycling events as well as sportive’ s and other local events. LWV also offer a Thursday night hill climbing session in Leicestershire’s hilly Bradgate Park area, which I went along to join one evening. This certainly was a good work out and recommended to anyone wanting to improve their climbing, or just improve in general. However it’s not just about training, I had a really enjoyable time with a really friendly group where ability really didn’t matter, everyone was just having a go.
Lindsay continues ‘The reason we formed in the first place was because we know that many women don’t want to join cycling clubs that have a predominantly male membership. We also weren’t sure if the funding for the Breeze cycling program would continue, and if it didn’t then we were much more likely to be able to apply for funding as a club. This then meant that we could continue to promote and encourage women’s cycling’.
I ask what the future is for Leicester Women’s Velo? The reply is ‘to get involved in anything that our members want to do. We would love to get into coaching eventually, time trials and hill climb competitions maybe. We have loads of ideas and we’re all really supportive so anything is possible’.
For anyone wanting to get involved on a Leicester Women’s Velo ride – you can visit their website http://www.leicesterwomensvelo.co.uk/
I was then interested to speak to other women’s only cycling clubs which led me to Sue Booth from the Chester Fabulous Ladies (http://chesterfabulousladies.blogspot.co.uk). ‘ I am a member of CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) and two things which were a catalyst. I noted not many women rode our Spring 50 mile ride. In fact 27 out of 123 riders were women and so not even 20%. Then around this time the CTC ran a ‘Five miles to Fabulous’ campaign and I thought that by getting women onto their bike for 5 miles, they would realise it is not that far and also quite often not far enough! I then sent up a seven mile ride to encourage more women and it started from there. The group has now been going for seven years’.
I ask then about the benefit of riding in a women’s only cycling group? ‘It’s not what I was expecting and it have a life of its own’ Sue explains to me. ‘It has a lovely friendly feel, we aren’t competitive and it is so rewarding when some of the women go onto other rides and events. They link to Breeze rides and have the confidence they might not have had before. I started it, but the ladies in the group make it as nice as it is. I have cycled for many years, and like mixed groups but it does feel different in a female only environment’
There are numerous clubs around the country but the final club I spoke to was the Warwickshire Ladies CC where club founder Helena spoke to me about the success of the club along with their regular activities. ‘The club offers rides every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as well as every other weekend. With just over 60 members and ages ranging between 22 and 68 years’. Helena believes the success is down to there being a no pressure and social environment.