British Cycling's Breeze programme recently celebrated its third birthday. Created to encourage more women to get out on their bikes and try cycling for fun, it has grown from fairly humble beginnings to being a flagship participation programme.
"When we first started we were lucky if we had ten rides taking place over a weekend,” says Natalie Justice, Breeze Programme Manager.
“Now we regularly have more than 200. The network has grown so much, it's just incredible."
Breeze rides are known for being un-elitist and particularly sociable – many involve a stop-off along the way for coffee and cake.
At the heart of the success has been the volunteer workforce dedicated to organising local rides and helping women fall in love with cycling.
"Our Breeze champions are amazing" says Natalie.
"They're so passionate about riding their bikes and they've helped build the confidence of so many other women. Thanks to them, our community has grown stronger and stronger – more than 18,000 women have now taken part in our rides."
And it's thanks to that growth in confidence that the new Breeze Challenge Events have come about.
"When we first started we were taking women on really gentle rides through local parks, to help build their confidence and get them on their bikes" Natalie remembers.
"What's happened recently is that confidence levels are now so high that women have already progressed through longer rides and have started asking us for much more challenging rides where they can really push themselves a bit. So we've created Breeze Challenge Events in direct response to that demand."
And her ambition for the events is clear. "Oh they'll definitely be something special. We're really keen that these aren't just another couple of sportives, but that they bring something of the Breeze ethos of fun and friendliness to the events. Oh and cake. There must be plenty of cake."
Fancy taking the step up to a challenge event? Enter here today.