Following the launch of the new DTPC Honda Pro Cycling Team it is fantastic to note the drive to involve more women in cycling at all levels.
The Breeze Network branch of British Cycling has seen huge numbers of women taking part in their organised rides in the last year and this upwards trend is continuing.
Clubs are starting to shed the ‘elite’ tag and more women are taking the step to join and there are more seeded events in the form of APR’s being run on the amateur race calendar to encourage women to have a shot at racing.
One such event taking place is the Scott Contessa Road Race Academy in Edinburgh this March.
An initiative set up in partnership with Scottish Cycling to build the bridge between new female riders who want to compete in a controlled environment, the Academy is supported by satellite coaching sessions being run all over Scotland by volunteer female coaches in before the event.
This means everyone can attend the Academy itself safe equipped to ride confidently in a group with the basic skills to hold their own in a race bunch – an opportunity to put skills seen in the Insight Zone and at sportives into practice.
The weekend itself will see a coaching element on the Saturday based around the theme of a staged race, allowing participants to experience a team time trial and the skills required for circuit riding.
Sunday will culminate in a handicapped open crit on a closed circuit giving the participants the chance to ride a real race and put into practice the skills acquired.
Opportunities like this do not come along very often and I am excited if not a little nervous about giving it a go in Edinburgh.
Last Saturday I took to the relative safety of a converted outdoor track with 28 other enthusiastic female riders of varying ability for the first satellite session in Glasgow.
The focus was on group riding and balance work and by the end of the lesson the chain gangs were neat, tidy and worked beautifully in a fun APR. It was great to see how quickly skills developed and how much can be achieved with a little bit of confidence.
Kudos goes to Sarah Barry and her fellow coaches for keeping everyone motivated and smiling on such a bitterly cold day!
With many cyclists still wary of joining clubs or participating in events because of a perceived lack of ability and confidence to do so, sessions such as this just go to prove the volume of women out there keen to progress.
More opportunities can only help boost the number of participants, from Breeze, to club rides, sportives and for those with a competitive edge – racing.