LikeaLassie: Getting Girls Cycling

LikeaLassie: Getting Girls Cycling


In March 2021 Scottish Cycling announced the winners of the Scottish Cycling Awards including the Innovation Award which was a one-off award to recognise a person, group, club or event who has thought outside the box and done something innovative to inspire others to participate in cycling during the pandemic.

The winner was LikeaLassie, a project set up in March 2020 by coaches from Edinburgh RC and Deeside Thistle with the idea of bringing together all existing U16-A/U14-B female riders from across Scotland to encourage and inspire them with advice that was specific to their needs. It is acknowledged that there is a drop-off in female teenage cycling participation and this programme set out to keep girls engaged in the sport, helping to meet Scottish Cycling’s objective of getting more women and young people cycling. The programme was started by Deeside and Edinburgh RC but anyone identifying as female in the U14/U16 categories is welcome.

Despite the challenges of lockdown, a thriving online community has sprung up and the LikeaLassie programme is thriving.

Representing all disciplines, 42 female riders from 12 clubs across Scotland now meet regularly to share skills, advice and inspire each other. Mentorship from established athletes was identified as a key way of keeping young women in the sport, and with Katie Archibald, Ishbel Strathdee and Anne Ewing on board the next generation of female cyclists have some brilliant role models to look up to.

The starter event was a social introduction for the riders and asked them about what they needed. This was held in early March, just before lockdown and saw 32 riders from 11 clubs attending. It was supported by ERC through the Pippa Handley Fund and held at Queen Margaret College.

And then Covid stopped play. Plans for further events and support had to be scrapped. But, by taking advantage of digital tools, there is now a flourishing online community and the LikeaLassie programme has been consistently maintained. The weekly Stretch and Socials on Zoom have kept everyone going, with the aim of maintaining healthy minds and bodies. These have been interspersed with Social Zwifts; Ditch Your Parents – Fix Your Own Bike Zoom Workshops; a session on menstrual cycle; and fuelling with swimmer Hannah Miley; ‘The Trouble with Knees’ session with physiotherapist Judith Lane; plus check ins with fantastic mentors Katie Archibald and Ishbel Strathdee.

Teamwork is essential in the development of athletes and it is no surprised that the team challenge was a favourite activity with the girls. Riders organised themselves into small mixed club teams and worked together remotely to cover a weekly challenge. These ranged from Strava art, jersey design and creating the perfect back pocket kit. This saw some new friendships and links cemented.

In the short period of 2020 when training clusters were allowed, there were some of the highest female attendance at sessions. Girls looked forward to seeing each other and riding again. In this way, the LikeAlassie project has achieved its aims of encouraging participation and bringing together female youth riders to provide mutual support.

Anna Derricourt from Edinburgh RC said, “This award is great recognition for all the riders and their enthusiasm to adapt and bring ideas to stay involved during a time when all they really wanted to do was ride bikes with their friends. They are truly inspirational, and we hope they continue to enjoy their racing and riding as everything starts to get going again”

Congratulations to the team behind LikeaLassie on the development of this innovative and exciting project. Scottish Cycling look forward to seeing many more young female riders at events and club rides in the future.

Thanks to Edinburgh RC for supporting this article.