On Sunday 3 March 2013, at an industrial estate just outside Skelmersdale, Lancashire, 37 ladies lined up for the start of the first round of the inaugural Cycling Development North West’s (“CDNW”) women’s road race league.
That figure, to many, may not seem astounding but there are two facts that must be remembered in order to consider this fully. Firstly, when the men’s road race league was set up 10 years ago, the first event had just 10 riders. Secondly, the number of riders who lined up in the event on Sunday included nearly a third who were experiencing a road race for the first time – for some it was their first event on the open road (having just raced on closed circuits previously) and for others it was their first foray into either competitive cycling or bunch racing, with quite a few riders making the switch from time trials and triathlon to road racing.
I can’t lie. I was quite emotional when I arrived at the headquarters. We knew that we had to get at least 15 women to break even, so I have worked hard since October to spread the word through social media. I think it has worked – I have just populated the results for the league and we have 50 riders registered – a far cry from the 10 that we were told to expect.
But it gets even better – there are many sceptics out there of women’s racing – it can be negative and there have been some comments about bad riding – but the event at Pimbo was testament to the quality of racing that professionals would be proud of – there were heroic attacks, team tactics and a bunch sprint, all of which did not fail to impress the officials and spectators.
Every single girl who turned up to Pimbo on Sunday should be proud that they were part of hopefully the start of something very special in women’s cycling. This is the only road race league for women in the country where all events are road races (no closed circuit races or time trials) and my only wish is that the girls who competed on Sunday keep it up – the CDNW women’s road race league is just that – a league – with all events counting towards the main league title. Everybody who finishes an event gets counting points towards the league.
It’s an exciting time to get involved with women’s competitive cycling. Can you afford not to get involved?
The next event is on 17 March 2013 at Pilling, Lancashire. There is still plenty of room for any second, third or fourth category ladies to enter. Please visit www.cdnw.org for more information.
Thanks to Ed Rollason for the photographs.