It can be intimidating joining a club full of experienced male cyclists, when all you want to do is have a leisurely cycle and enjoy the scenery. So, what’s the solution? Start a ladies only cycling group that makes tea and cake stops an essential on every cycle and aims to build its members’ confidence, of course! That’s what inspirational Scottish cyclist, Kirsty Cameron, has done anyway…
We always plan a “cuppy” stop. That’s actually how we plan our routes — around where to get our cake and coffee!
Cycling is a great sport, but there aren’t enough women doing it. I’ve been cycling for about five years now and during that time have cycled over 6,500 miles all over Scotland. In that time I’ve realised there are women keen to give cycling a try, but have been discouraged from joining our local cycling club. While the club caters for all abilities, the group has grown to encompass mainly experienced male riders, which some newcomers find intimidating. As I saw more new female riders coming through, I decided to do something about it.
It all started last year, when my friend Rhona and I were asked to help organise a ladies only ride at the Angus Cycling Festival, to encourage more women to get into cycling. It was a great success and helped us start our own Ladies Leisurely Cycling group. It’s really gone from strength to strength and over the course of a year has grown from 16 to 135 members!
Join In — a London 2012 legacy charity that puts more volunteers into community sport — has been such a great support in helping increase our group profile. This month we’ve had news reporters, media and radio coverage about our Ladies Leisurely Cycling group, which has resulted in loads of new members from all over Tayside and Angus.
Our social group aims to encourage women to feel confident on their bikes, make new friends and get fit. We always plan a “cuppy” stop. That’s actually how we plan our routes — around where to get our cake and coffee! The group welcomes all abilities and ages and we promise no rider gets left behind. The group is about participation, not speed.
Over the years through the support of other riders, I’ve learned what a difference having a positive mental attitude can make when it comes to challenging routes and hills. It’s a bit of a mind game. You have to keep telling yourself you can do it, because sometimes it can be tough!
We know cycling is no mean feat, and some ladies have been worried on their first day, having only cycled a few miles before. But we support and help reassure them, sharing positive words, stories of our own cycling fails, as well as some handy tips. It’s been really rewarding for Rhona and I to see the ladies grow in confidence and ability over this year. Many of them have even entered cycling sportives, Audax and our local cycling club, Angus Bike Chain. We also have five members away to do their Cycle Ride Leader course. Their progression is great to see and we’re really proud of them. We’ve had around 17 rides with 20-30 participates cycling over 500 miles since we started the club.
Rhona and I are currently underway with planning this year’s ladies only ride at the Angus Cycling Festival. We hope to encourage even more women to sign up and join us on the 27th September.
Words by: Kirsty Cameron