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FEATURE I WOMEN’S CYCLING I


am a passionate fella, I adore my family, I adore my wife and I adore my bike/s. This passion extends to promoting the benefits of pedalling, the physical qualities are universally recognised but the mental well-being is as much a key factor and not always obvious. I had recently interviewed Jess Varnish about her role as a Breeze Ambassador and was intrigued by the passion she enthused about women’s cycling and decided that the topic should have a voice, an outlet to encourage more ladies to hop on a bike and enjoy the many positives of two wheeled transportation. My first task was to commission my non-cycling other half to spend more time, actually just anytime in the saddle and pen some words with the hope of making it a regular feature, thankfully she obliged. So with this in mind, I was more than fascinated by an email I received one rather humdrum afternoon. A colourful poster appeared in my inbox advertising a Women’s Cycling Evening at a bike shop conveniently in my hometown with the offer for me to attend. The chance to champion women’s cycling and promote my local community was too much to ignore so I responded with a resounding yes, why not!


Unfortunately due to my now chaos filled schedule and a bout of Man-Flu I didn’t get to the evening but still felt it warranted some exposure, especially as there has been a seismic movement in the amount of women participating in cycling in the UK. The plan was to interview the organiser of the event, Michelle Paget from the Bike Yard, a popular bike shop in the heart of Royal Leamington Spa. So on a rather miserable rain affected day I arrived with two children in tow, the lure of shiny bikes had been enough to convince them the visit was a good idea. (Oh not forgetting the promise of some sweets!)


The shop is a kaleidoscope of vivid colour brimming with all manner of cycling paraphernalia. I was met by the smiling, slight oily face of Michelle, she had obviously been tinkering out the back, of course I immediately liked this lady.


1. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO ORGANISE THE WOMEN’S EVENING AT THE BIKEYARD? Working every day in the shop I often get female customers asking questions regarding how to best look after their bikes, this sparked me to create a workshop maintenance evening that would provide the ladies with an opportunity to learn more about how to look after their bikes. I wanted to give these ladies as much info as possible


in order to keep them cycling and thought that it would be a fantastic opportunity to not only give them maintenance advice but advice on all things female cycling. Bringing together brands, influential guest speakers/ riders and information for them to take with them. Getting all the ladies together and offering info and advice in one evening..


2. WAS THERE A GOOD TURNOUT?


I was totally blown away by the amount of ladies that we had through the door in one evening. Approximately 70 ladies came. It was really nice to see and feel the buzz within the shop celebrating all things female cycling and so many different areas of cycling too. From Downhill to Road it was so good to see. I was also blown away by the support from the companies and guest speakers/riders. It felt really good being supported by so many female friendly distributors and supporters 


3. ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE THIS A REGULAR EVENT? From the success of the first event we definitely intend to re-run the event in the spring, I am also arranging a regular maintenance evening slot for ladies too.


4. WHY DO YOU THINK THERE HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN WOMEN’S CYCLING IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS? Women’s participation in cycling I believe has grown massively in the last couple of years, due to influential female role models that are not only racing or riding for themselves each week but supporting women’s cycling as a whole by backing supported rides and opportunities to encourage more women on bikes. With support from British Cycling with the Breeze network and female specific training and events I believe it makes a massive difference. This not only gives women encouragement to participate in a relaxed and non-pressured environment but also introduces them to more cycling avenues for the long term. Having a female rider to aspire to, whether its Laura Trott on TV competing or a seasoned fellow club rider that rides week in week out, I feel that women do tend to support and encourage each other a lot and this leads to more females on bikes, supported by each other. 


5. DO YOU REGULARLY CYCLE, IS IT FOR FITNESS OR CONVENIENCE? Hell Yeah! I cycle as much as I can and


January 2015 I Cycling World 55


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