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Case Study: Gilly from Huddersfield is inspiring women to get into cyclo-cross

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One woman making a difference in her local community and inspiring women to get on their bikes is Gilly Dukes. Gilly, 43, from Huddersfield is single-handedly helping a group of complete beginners get knee-deep in mud, learn to brake ‘on the drops’ and enter their first competitive cyclo-cross race.

”I realised there are a lot of ladies like me – working mums struggling to find time to ride.” said Gilly. “I volunteer as a coach at a Go-Ride club for young people, and when coaching finished for the winter I asked some of the kids’ mums if they’d like to use the time for some cyclo-cross training.”

After introducing a monthly social ride of between 25 and 40 miles, and setting up group riding coaching for ladies at a closed circuit, the group developed lots of confidence. But it was only after Gilly booked herself on the British Cycling Level 2 Cyclo-Cross coaching course that things really took off.

“I volunteer as a coach at a Go-Ride club for young people, and when coaching finished for the winter I asked some of the kids’ mums if they’d like to use the time for some Cyclo-Cross training.”

“Once I completed the training, I again managed to convince some of the mums to come along an hour early for some cyclo-cross, so I could improve my coaching skills and complete my coursework. We decided to set a challenge and enter ourselves into the novice category of a local cyclo-cross event.”

And so it was that Gilly encouraged five ladies to enter the Lister Lions Cyclo-Cross in September 2013; an achievement they all found extremely rewarding. She says: “The event was brilliant fun, and I was so proud of the others. I’d like to say a big thank you to British Cycling for giving me the tools to help a few more ladies enjoy cycling around a field with a bunch of blokes.” She adds: “I think our kids are quite proud of us too.”

It’s dedicated coaches, volunteers and Ride Leaders like Gilly who are making a real difference in their communities and helping British Cycling reach their ambition to get one million more women cycling by 2020.