In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on Saturday 8 March we're highlighting the many opportunities open to women to get involved in cycling. British Cycling’s Breeze programme offers just that – Breeze is the biggest programme ever to get more women into riding bikes for fun.
A dedicated team of volunteer Breeze champions organises and delivers hundreds of free, guided bike rides throughout the country every week, giving their time and effort to encourage more women to get into cycling, whatever their level and ability. Without their passion, enthusiasm and motivation, Breeze simply wouldn’t be as successful as it is.
One woman on a mission to inspire others and prove that cycling can make you feel great at any age is Judy Robinson from Bradford. At 77, Judy is the oldest volunteer champion in the Breeze programme.
"Age is no barrier," says Judy, "but it does mean that I require a little more motivation. Leading Breeze bike rides and encouraging others has given me just that."
One of hundreds of dedicated champions across the country who organise hundreds of rides every week, she’s a real inspiration. She doesn’t claim to go fast or far, but her location at the midpoint of a 25-mile stretch of rideable towpath means Judy’s rides appeal to beginners and improvers alike.
Getting back in the saddle
Judy got back into cycling after an incredible fifty year break, proving that it’s never too late to get back into something you once enjoyed. After training as a Breeze champion in September 2011, she became a founding member of Breeze Network Bradford.
Now, having led rides in and around her local area for almost two and a half years, Judy is one of a handful of champions to reach an incredible milestone. By organising over one hundred bike rides she has now been welcomed into the ‘Breeze Hall of Fame’.
"It’s a staggering figure," says Natalie Justice who manages the Breeze programme. "And Judy says she has no plans to give up any time soon either! We’re truly grateful for her efforts, and inspired by her success."
And it’s not just the team at Breeze HQ singing Judy’s praises – the women she takes out on her rides have nothing but praise for her too. Jane Lewis nominated Judy for a VIP day with Victoria Pendleton at Cycletta Cheshire back in May 2013, saying "Judy is a truly inspirational champion. Despite being well into her seventies, she’s like a Duracell battery – small and packed with energy! She has a lovely personality and is so welcoming to everyone who joins her rides, taking them out on their bikes all year round, whatever the weather."
Judy battles the elements and wins
"Breeze bike rides have done me so much good," says Judy. "I ride whatever the weather and I always feel great, even if I’m drenched. I’ve met so many lovely people along the way and have made some lasting friendships.
"Cycling keeps me active and feeling young. I’m looking forward to many more years of delivering women-only rides."
Could you inspire women to get into cycling?
Join our team of amazing volunteers. We’re currently looking to recruit a number of Breeze champions across the country. There’s no need to be a cycling expert – just be confident on a bike and keen to help others.
We’re looking for enthusiastic people to get involved in the Breeze Network and inspire women to get more out of their bike, have fun with friends and get a recognised qualification at the same time.