Group cycling has not been easy at all this year due to the pandemic, though this year we have seen more people than ever before take to the bicycle not only as a form of recreation but as a way to get around locally. The largest increase in engagement has been from Women with Strava reporting a massive 108% increase in the number of it’s users in the UK this year.
Women’s cycling has been slowly increasing over the past few years thanks to a number of initiatives such as the HSBC UK Breeze programme ran by our network of Champions and a growing number of clubs who are supporting these initiatives by hosting women’s only rides and coaching blocks.
We recently caught up with Velo Club Newport ahead of December's lockdown on the last of the current block of women’s only rides in what has been a challenging year for the club.
The sessions delivered and supported by the clubs’ members this year, initially started in March ahead of the first lockdown with 13 riders keen to take part for several various reasons. Some were looking for a new sporting challenge, others wanting to join partners who were already involved in the sport and some who had only just learnt to ride.
Sessions had got underway and the weekly rides were covering different distances to accommodate for the speed in which the riders were developing at, and then lockdown came.
The club continued to support the riders remotely with advice and were pleased that whilst unable to ride together the riders were undeterred and made the most of less traffic on the roads. Like the rest of the nation, they were loving the opportunity this presented to ride more and continue to grow in confidence.
With restrictions easing later in the year the club were able to restart some degree of activity which gave the riders the opportunity to meet up once again, however local restrictions were making this hard until this lifted in the autumn and a final push was given by the club’s ride leaders to ensure the course was completed before the end of the year.
The riders have certainly had a much longer than the expected four week course and got to experience cycling in every season. The hope is these riders will continue to cycle when restrictions allow and link in with other club activities.
Now making up 41% of the clubs 100 strong membership the club is well on it’s way to reaching it’s goal of an equal gender split which it hopes to achieve with further led sessions in the new year.