Dame Sarah Storey Cheshire Classic 2015 Interview

CyclingShorts.cc journalist Heather Bamforth interviews Dame Sarah Storey of Team Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International after her win at the 2015 Cheshire Classic.

Race organised by Weaver Valley Cycling Club.

A CyclingShorts.cc / ChapeauChapeau.com Production
Filmed & edited by Zoe Opal East & Mary Broome
Produced by Anna Magrath

Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race 2015 Results

Delamere Dairy Sprint – Joanna Rowsell (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)

Advanced Medical Solutions Team Prize – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International

Your Sports Therapist Aggressive Rider – Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)

Position Name Team/Club Category
1 Dame Sarah Storey Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
2 Laura Trott Matrix Fitness Elite
3 Alice Barnes Betch.NL-Superior-Brentjens MTB Racing Team 3rd
4 Emily Kay Team USN 1st
5 Katie Curtis Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 1st
6 Louise Mahe IKON – Mazda 1st
7 Charline Joiner Team WNT 1st
8 Laura Greenhalgh Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
9 Henrietta Colborne Bonito Squadra Corse 2nd
10 Emily Nelson Team USN 2nd
11 Nicola Juniper Team Giordana- Triton Elite
12 Eve Dixon Team 22 1st
13 Gabriella Shaw Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
14 Jennifer George Les Filles Racing Team 1st
15 Natalie Grinczer Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 2nd
16 Helen Ralston Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
17 Rose Osbourne Team WNT 2nd
18 Anna Christian Wiggle Honda 2nd
19 Susan Freeburn [email protected] House 2nd
20 Ellie Campbell Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 3rd
21 Gabriella Leveridge Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
22 Jessie Walker Matrix Fitness 1st
23 Gemma Sargent Racing Chance Foundation 2nd
24 Bethany Taylor Bonito Squadra Corse 2nd
25 Kayleigh Brogan Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 2nd
26 Elizabeth-Jane Harris Army Cycling Union 2nd
27 Ella Hopkins IKON – Mazda 3rd
28 Nicole Oh Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
29 Jennifer Hudson Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 2nd
30 Julie Erskine IKON – Mazda 1st
31 Rebecca Nixon Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 2nd
32 Gabriella Nordin GB Cycles.co.uk 2nd
33 Manon Lloyd Team USN 1st
34 Charlotte Broughton Corley Cycles – Drops RT 2nd
35 Chanel Mason Army Cycling Union 2nd
36 Rebecca Rimmington IKON – Mazda 1st
37 Rebecca Carter Team WNT 2nd
38 Annasley Park Team Giordana- Triton 2nd
39 Bethany Hayward Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 1st
40 Amy Gornall Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 2nd
41 Louise Laker [email protected] House 2nd
42 Josephine Gilbert Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
43 Vanessa Whitfield Team 22 2nd
44 Frances White Team Jadan 2nd
45 Bethany Crumpton North West MTB Race Team 3rd
46 Hannah Payton Corley Cycles – Drops RT 2nd
47 Ciara Horne Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 2nd
48 Lucy Shaw Matrix Fitness Development 2nd
49 Joanna Rowsell Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
50 Penny Rowson Matrix Fitness 2nd
51 Katie Archibald Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
52 Rebecca Womersley Corley Cycles – Drops RT 2nd
53 Joanne Blakeley Team 22 2nd
54 Hannah Walker Team WNT Elite
55 Lucy Harper Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 2nd
56 Helen McKay Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
57 Pia De Quint
58 Nicola Soden Carnac-Planet X 2nd
59 Elinor Thorogood Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 3rd
60 Ellie Coster Team USN 2nd
61 Melissa Brand IKON – Mazda 2nd
62 Nikola Butler Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 2nd
63 Victoria Strila [email protected] House 2nd
64 Lauren OBrien Team Giordana- Triton 2nd
65 Alexis Barnes [email protected] House 2nd
66 Emily Attfield Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
67 Chloe Weller [email protected] House 2nd
68 Rebecca Raybould Poole Whls CC 2nd
69 Sandra Mackay Carnac-Planet X 2nd
70 Ruth Taylor Manchester Whlrs Club 2nd
71 Emma Grant IKON – Mazda 2nd
72 Keira McVitty Team Giordana- Triton 1st
73 Sarah Rose Team 22 2nd
74 Sam Burman Team WNT 3rd
DNF Delia Beddis Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
DNF Karla Boddy IKON – Mazda 1st
DNF Laura Cheesman Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
DNF Tracy Corbett Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
DNF Laura Massey IKON – Mazda Elite
DNF Brit Tate Team WNT 1st

Alice Barnes – Cheshire Classic 2015

 

 

CyclingShorts.cc journalist Heather Bamforth interviews 3rd place rider Alice Barnes of Betch.NL-Superior-Brentjens MTB Racing Team.

Filmed & edited by Zoe Opal East & Mary Broome of CyclingShorts.cc
Race organised by Weaver Valley Cycling Club.

Cheshire Classic Women’s Road Race 2015 Results

Delamere Dairy Sprint – Joanna Rowsell (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)

Advanced Medical Solutions Team Prize – Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International

Your Sports Therapist Aggressive Rider – Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International)

Position Name Team/Club Category
1 Dame Sarah Storey Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
2 Laura Trott Matrix Fitness Elite
3 Alice Barnes Betch.NL-Superior-Brentjens MTB Racing Team 3rd
4 Emily Kay Team USN 1st
5 Katie Curtis Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 1st
6 Louise Mahe IKON – Mazda 1st
7 Charline Joiner Team WNT 1st
8 Laura Greenhalgh Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
9 Henrietta Colborne Bonito Squadra Corse 2nd
10 Emily Nelson Team USN 2nd
11 Nicola Juniper Team Giordana- Triton Elite
12 Eve Dixon Team 22 1st
13 Gabriella Shaw Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
14 Jennifer George Les Filles Racing Team 1st
15 Natalie Grinczer Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 2nd
16 Helen Ralston Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
17 Rose Osbourne Team WNT 2nd
18 Anna Christian Wiggle Honda 2nd
19 Susan Freeburn [email protected] House 2nd
20 Ellie Campbell Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 3rd
21 Gabriella Leveridge Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
22 Jessie Walker Matrix Fitness 1st
23 Gemma Sargent Racing Chance Foundation 2nd
24 Bethany Taylor Bonito Squadra Corse 2nd
25 Kayleigh Brogan Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 2nd
26 Elizabeth-Jane Harris Army Cycling Union 2nd
27 Ella Hopkins IKON – Mazda 3rd
28 Nicole Oh Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
29 Jennifer Hudson Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 2nd
30 Julie Erskine IKON – Mazda 1st
31 Rebecca Nixon Fusion RT Gearclub Bike Science 2nd
32 Gabriella Nordin GB Cycles.co.uk 2nd
33 Manon Lloyd Team USN 1st
34 Charlotte Broughton Corley Cycles – Drops RT 2nd
35 Chanel Mason Army Cycling Union 2nd
36 Rebecca Rimmington IKON – Mazda 1st
37 Rebecca Carter Team WNT 2nd
38 Annasley Park Team Giordana- Triton 2nd
39 Bethany Hayward Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 1st
40 Amy Gornall Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 2nd
41 Louise Laker [email protected] House 2nd
42 Josephine Gilbert Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
43 Vanessa Whitfield Team 22 2nd
44 Frances White Team Jadan 2nd
45 Bethany Crumpton North West MTB Race Team 3rd
46 Hannah Payton Corley Cycles – Drops RT 2nd
47 Ciara Horne Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 2nd
48 Lucy Shaw Matrix Fitness Development 2nd
49 Joanna Rowsell Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
50 Penny Rowson Matrix Fitness 2nd
51 Katie Archibald Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl Elite
52 Rebecca Womersley Corley Cycles – Drops RT 2nd
53 Joanne Blakeley Team 22 2nd
54 Hannah Walker Team WNT Elite
55 Lucy Harper Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 2nd
56 Helen McKay Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
57 Pia De Quint
58 Nicola Soden Carnac-Planet X 2nd
59 Elinor Thorogood Aprire Bicycles/HSS Hire 3rd
60 Ellie Coster Team USN 2nd
61 Melissa Brand IKON – Mazda 2nd
62 Nikola Butler Pearl Izumi Sports Tours Intl 2nd
63 Victoria Strila [email protected] House 2nd
64 Lauren OBrien Team Giordana- Triton 2nd
65 Alexis Barnes [email protected] House 2nd
66 Emily Attfield Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
67 Chloe Weller [email protected] House 2nd
68 Rebecca Raybould Poole Whls CC 2nd
69 Sandra Mackay Carnac-Planet X 2nd
70 Ruth Taylor Manchester Whlrs Club 2nd
71 Emma Grant IKON – Mazda 2nd
72 Keira McVitty Team Giordana- Triton 1st
73 Sarah Rose Team 22 2nd
74 Sam Burman Team WNT 3rd
DNF Delia Beddis Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
DNF Karla Boddy IKON – Mazda 1st
DNF Laura Cheesman Velosure Starley Primal 2nd
DNF Tracy Corbett Les Filles Racing Team 2nd
DNF Laura Massey IKON – Mazda Elite
DNF Brit Tate Team WNT 1st

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 8 – Road Racing

Once you have got a few circuit races under your belt, you might like to have a go at road racing, after all, it’s what many people believe that cycling is all about!  However, there a few differences between road racing and circuit racing, so I thought it would be useful to explain them here.

The Open Road

Yes, that’s right, the majority of road racing in this country, whether you are male or female, is on the open road. That means that you are on the public highway and therefore have to abide by the rules of the road – for those of you who aren’t sure what I mean by this (and I have raced with a few (men and women) who don’t appear to be aware of this), it means that you stay on the left hand side of the road, because in the UK we drive on the left.  With the races being on the open road, this means that you have to be aware of other road users, including cars and lorries that come in the opposite direction.  If somebody goes on to the wrong side of the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle it can have horrific consequences, so you MUST be aware AT ALL TIMES that you have a duty to yourself and your fellow competitors to ride sensibly.  Have a look at my Dance Space article about giving yourself room.

(c) Martin Holden Photography

(c) Martin Holden Photography

Races are longer

This seems like I am stating the obvious but I will do anyway.  The races are longer (generally between 30 and 60 miles for both men and women) which means that the pace tends to be a bit more consistent than in a circuit race, helped by the fact that you probably won’t be sprinting out of a corner every 10 seconds like you sometimes end up doing in a circuit race.  Field sizes are generally larger as road races are more expensive to run and therefore need to have bigger fields, but that helps with the race distance as you get more shelter (in theory at least).  As the races are longer, you also need to have more stamina and endurance than you would in a circuit race, and need to ensure that you carry food with you for eating during the race (see my Practice! Practice! Practice! article for advice in this respect).  This can also mean that those riders who are great in circuit races may not be as good at longer road races and vice versa, so if you don’t think that the flat circuit races are for you, why not have a go at road racing?!

(c) Martin Holden Photography

(c) Martin Holden Photography

There’s different terrain

One of the limiting factors of circuit races is that they tend to be pan flat (there are exceptions, especially where town centre circuit races are concerned) and usually finish in a bunch sprint, so it can become a bit demoralising if you aren’t keen on being a sprinter.  However, road race circuits come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from shorter “kermesse” style races to longer circuits with a couple of climbs and descents in them.  Don’t expect to be great at everything, but certainly try and have a go at different circuits to see what suits you best.

Start at the right level

The good news is that road races can be a lot easier for novices than circuit races, especially those road races that are aimed at 2/3/4 category women, due to the length of the race and there being less corners.  The average speed for regional level races tends to be anywhere between 22 mph and 24 mph depending on the weather and the circuit and more often than not the pace eases up significantly, allowing you to have a bit of a breather.

Staying with the bunch is the key to success

This sounds really easy but it can be a bit of a nightmare when you are new to racing.  Many people will happily let the other riders go up the road if the pace goes up a bit, never to see the bunch again, but the road race that you entered then becomes a time trial, and you don’t get the same enjoyment for spending 35 miles of a 40 mile race off the back of the bunch.  Trust me, it may seem like really hard work at times when you are riding at a pace which you don’t feel comfortable with, however nine times out of ten the pace will ease off slightly and you get an opportunity to recover before the pace increases again.  Road racing is supposed to be hard and difficult, where your legs and lungs are burning as you try to keep up with people who are slightly fitter and faster than you, but the feeling at the end is worth it!

(c) http://martinholdenphotography.com

Be true to yourself

By this, I mean “don’t let other riders bully you in to doing something that you don’t want to do”. There will be many occasions in races where more experienced riders will shout at you to do some work.  You don’t have to do what they tell you to – it’s your entry fee and your race – but sometimes they might be saying it for good reason. Keep your common sense in tow and do what you think is right – if you’re about to blow up, don’t feel as if you have to do a turn on the front, sit in the wheels, get your breath back and you might be somewhere when it comes to the finish.

Road racing is fun, but it is hard work and is supposed to hurt your legs, so don’t give up as soon as they start hurting – battle through that pain for a couple of minutes at least (unless it is pain in relation to an injury when you should stop immediately) and you never know, you might surprise yourself!

(c) Martin Holden Photography

(c) Martin Holden Photography

Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day
Part Seven – Circuit Racing

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 7 – Circuit Racing

 

A Woman’s Guide to Racing – Part 7

Circuit Racing

Following on from my guides to racing that I first wrote back in 2013, I thought it would be useful to develop these a bit further.  This guide is on circuit racing and what to expect, as it is this type of race that you will tend to do as a novice first, before venturing out on to the open road in road races.

Licences

These races tend (on the whole) to be run under British Cycling regulations.  This means that you will have to have a racing licence to participate in the event, but you don’t need to have a licence in advance to race for circuit races (unless it is a National Series event, in which case you won’t be able to ride as a novice).  However, you will be required to purchase a day licence for the event, so that you are covered by the requisite insurance. A day licence costs around £10 and will be in addition to your entry fee.  You can find out more about the racing licence position here.

What is involved?

A circuit race can also be called a criterium.  They are held usually on a circuit of 1 mile or less, with the newer circuits averaging around 1km in length.  More often than not, the race distance will be described in terms of minutes rather than laps, with many races being a certain amount of time plus a number of laps.  Generally, the commissaires will know how long a lap takes and will tell you in advance that they expect the race to be however many laps but they will put the lap board up with a certain number of laps to go (usually 10, although this depends on the length of the circuit).

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Who can enter?

This tends to depend on the organiser.  There are many events which are labelled as E/1/2/3/4 and will therefore be band 4 races (this doesn’t mean that Laura Trott or Dani King is going to turn up – they could, but it doesn’t happen very often), however if categories are dropped and the race only caters for lower categories (e.g. 2/3/4 or 3/4) the race will become a band 5, meaning that there are less licence points available for the top 10 finishers.  There has also been a tendency in the past to hold women’s races alongside a fourth category men’s race.  This can be a bit scary, for many reasons, so if you are looking at doing your first event, check to see whether it is a standalone women’s event or whether the women’s event will be on the track at the same time as the fourth category men’s event, as even though they are listed as separate events on the British Cycling events listing, they may have the same or similar start times, which will mean that you are racing at the same time as the men.

Warming up

The nature of circuit races mean that they tend to start extremely quickly, and you therefore need to make sure that you warm up properly before the event.  Most riders nowadays tend to take their rollers or turbo trainer to the race so that they can do some efforts before the race – the key to the warm up is that you need to get your heart rate up to where it will probably be in the race when you warm up, so you will usually need around 20 to 30 mins warm up, although this depends on the rider.  You should be looking to finish your warm up around 10 minutes before you are due to start to give you time to get the final pieces ready, so make sure you have put your number on in advance of warming up.  It also helps to warm up in a separate T-shirt to that which you are going to race in, so make sure you take a couple of T-shirts in your race bag with you.

Before you get on the start line

The riders will all line up on the start line, so if possible try and do a couple of laps of the circuit before the race is due to start.  During these laps, look at the corners, see whether there are any damp patches or pot holes which you may want to avoid, and ride around any particularly tricky sections a couple of times before the race so that there are no hidden horrors which you might encounter.  Check which way the wind is blowing – is it a head wind up the finishing straight or is it a tail wind or a cross wind, as this will give you an idea where riders will be likely to put an attack in (most are less likely to attack in a head wind because it’s too hard on their own).

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The race itself

Remember that the more experienced riders will always go off hard and keep the pace high for a couple of laps.  Keep calm during the first few laps, even though your head might be trying to tell you other things, as the pace always eases off after the first 5 to 10 minutes.  Many riders will try and attack in these early laps as they test each other out, but most of these attacks won’t stay away as they’re more like feints – it’s like a game of poker as the more experienced riders see who’s up for a race and who isn’t.

Corners are either your friend or your enemy

Most riders don’t like cornering and will brake excessively.  Most crashes tend to happen coming out of corners in circuit races, so give yourself room but don’t ease off too much.  Make sure you change into an easier gear going into the corner as it’s easier to change pace on a lower gear and therefore easier to sprint out of the bend.  Don’t make the mistake of staying in the same gear as it will just tire you out.  Hold your line around a corner and don’t “divebomb” other riders (cut up the rider behind you).  Become a rider who loves corners and you will do well.

cornering

You will get dropped

Every rider will get left behind by the first few riders (the term is to “get dropped”) in their first few races.  No matter what you think as you prepare for your first race, 99% of riders struggle with the fluctuating pace and it is only a matter of time before the elastic eventually snaps and you get dropped.  But don’t worry, it is all part of the learning curve, and the next time you come back you will have a better idea of what happens and what to expect.

Don’t give up

Bike racing can be an extremely demoralising experience but don’t worry, everybody goes through that learning curve.  Make sure you set yourself targets (finish the race, finish in the bunch, finish in the top 10) and you will find that it can be an exciting experience!

Click below to read:
Part One – Where Do I Start?
Part Two – What Do I Enter?
Part Three – What training should I do?
Part Four – Practice! Practice! Practice!
Part Five – Are You Ready To Race?
Part Six – Race Day

Review – Kreis Clothing Range

KreisRangeReviewKreis is a relatively new brand to the UK market and comes at it with the angle of offering limited run Club orders. Their designs are very modern and striking and give an opportunity to have a coordinated wardrobe for not too much money. The clothing is made for them by Kalas, a Czech company that have enabled Kreis to bring their designs to the public.

The overall emphasis from Kreis is on creating your own statement and having them help you realise it. Most of the designs are size customisable too, offering a great deal of flexibility for every shape and size of cyclist. Emphasis is placed on the ‘pre-order’ stage of purchase where the details of what you need can be tailored to you.

KreisEchelon-GipfelRenntrikotJerseyFrontKreisEchelon-Gipfel RenntrikotJerseyBack

Kreis Echelon-Gipfel Renntrikot Jersey

The design of this jersey and indeed all the kit we had for review certainly turned heads. This jersey was of simple construction with a lycra front and sleeves, and mesh panel rear. This gave a great amount of breathability from the rear portion and the modern aero design most riders now seek. It fitted very snuggly and was comfortable in the classic cyclist tuck, without any flapping. Importantly the three rear pockets were accessible and deep enough to carry usual cyclist needs. Renntrikot has a full length zip which worked easily and gave flexibility when venting is required in warmer temperatures.  In long term testing it washed well, it’s light colours remaining clean.

Our Test model was sized ‘4’. This was in modern terms a ‘race fit’ i.e. tight and was in the realm of a small/medium. As with all brands your own size and fit differ from other manufactures sizes.

The Jersey is listed at £85

Jersey: 4.5/5

 

KreisEchelon-GipfelTragerhoseShortsKreisEchelon-GipfelTragerhoseShortsLegKreis Echelon-Gipfel Tragerhose Shorts

Shorts are in modern terms one of the biggest areas of discussion amongst Cyclists of all persuasions. Each contact point with the bicycle has to be perfect or your ride is going to be very short indeed. Kreis offer gender specific inserts to provide the comfort and they actually are pretty comfy. Quite a few rides gave plenty of confidence in the chamois. Fit is the secondary area of comfort for shorts, any ruffles or bagginess will soon become a problem but the Tragerhose are made of a nice weight of lycra that is soft and solid enough to help their panelled structure to fit well. The only negative for us was that the leg ‘gripper’ arrangements were baggy on our test item. This is probably down to the simple fact that the test shorts were size 5, which equates to an XL on the Kreis sizing chart. The grippers have their silicon band cleverly embedded in the fabric itself, meaning that the old fashioned ‘just above knee elastic line’ is totally eradicated. A smaller size would have given a better fit here.

The shorts are listed also at £85

Shorts: 4/5

 

KreisEchelonArmwarmersKreisEchelonRadlerkappeKreis Echelon Accessories

We also tested the Echelon Armwarmers which are made of a ‘roubaix’ (brushed lycra on reverse). These proved to be lovely and snug in cooler conditions. They have a silicon top gripper to keep them in place and were longer than most modern styles giving less chance of a chilly gap at the top. At £20 these compliment the rest of the Echelon range nicely without breaking the bank and could be worn with other clothes as they are mostly black with just a few details.

A Radlerkappe was also sent for our enjoyment, that’s a cap to you and I, and although with helmets being solely the order of the day the cap was called into service on a couple of low sun evenings to prevent dappling light affecting the eyes. There is a functional mesh panel within its structure that prevents any overheating allowing a good point of ventilation.

The hat comes in three sizes and we tried the Medium which was perfect for a ‘normal’ head. £15 buys you the perfect piece to finish your pro-rider designer look.

CyclingShortsKreisRangeReviewRatingThe Armwarmers are listed at £20 and Cap at £15

Armwarmers: 5/5

Cap: 5/5

 

Summary

For someone on a modest budget this range could be ideal and with a bit of input even unique to you. A lot of modern riders wish to have their own identity in a crowd and this could help them get there.

CyclingShorts.cc gives the Kreis Range 93% and a star buy rating.

 

Range available from:

www.kreiscycling.bigcartel.com

Women’s Cycling – Opportunity Knocks

Ryedale Women's Grand Prix 2014 inc BC Junior Nat WRR Championsh

Image ©chrismaher.co.uk / CyclingShorts.cc

I read something recently about how women’s cycling is in excellent health in the UK and I have to say that I was very surprised by that statement. Yes, there has been an increase in the number of races available, but there have also been a few races which have been cancelled due to low rider numbers and other races practically begging riders to support events (I am guilty of the latter), so you may be able to see why I am surprised.

At the beginning of this year, I was one of three coaches who saw nearly 100 female riders attend novice race training sessions in the North West and North Wales. My aim was to inspire at least 20% of those attending to try road racing, which kind of worked with the first event that I am involved in having 74 entries in advance, nearly doubling the number of entries for the same event the year earlier.

However, as the season progressed, there came the inevitable drop off in numbers, and now I have two events in August which have just 17 and 15 riders entered in advance at present.  These are the CDNW events at Oakenclough on 10 August and Great Budworth on 23 August.  These are events which are restricted to second, third and fourth category riders, there is an overall league and a league for those who started this year as fourth category riders (currently unique in the UK, I believe, and something that I devised to try and encourage women to have a go at road racing without having to worry about more experienced riders in the race).

Back in May this year, prompted by another article about women’s cycling, I wrote about the sport from a grassroots’ perspective where I urged female riders to enter in advance to show the organiser that his/her race was being supported to prevent them being cancelled, especially where road racing was concerned due to the cost of putting an event on.  Unfortunately, there now seems to be a few issues which are making cancellations more prevalent:

  1. There are more races being held which leads to a dilution in rider numbers;
  2. Women don’t seem to support road races, for a variety of reasons, possibly because they are more expensive, harder to win licence points and tend to lead to riders having to take a leap of faith to try something different;
  3. There is still a massive issue with rider retention – of the 70 women who registered for the CDNW league last year, only around 40 of them have registered this season, with even less actively taking part;
  4. Racing is expensive, especially when you find yourself in a crash;
  5. Cycling is actually a hard sport, which leads to many riders becoming disillusioned early on and then giving up practically straight away because “it isn’t for them”.
JadanPressWomensCircuitRace14_2083A

Image ©chrismaher.co.uk / Cycling Shorts.cc

I have to say that organisers don’t help sometimes. There seems to be a misconception that there are similar numbers of men and women racing, which is totally untrue. Mid-week races are especially difficult for women as there are probably less than 100 women who race regularly in the UK and have the time, money and inclination to travel to all of the races, but as the majority of these have to take time off work to attend, there are only so many days’ holiday you can afford to take to use to attend a bike race. Many organisers then complain that their races aren’t being supported by the riders, and those who do support events then get irritated because it is the same people attending the events, and the riders then feel like they are being treated unfairly just because they don’t have the time or money available to attend.

Prize money can sometimes hinder race entry numbers too, unfortunately. If there is a significant cash prize for the winner, the race tends to attract the better riders (who may not have as many commitments as other riders), so those riders who end up making the numbers up never get a look in for prize money and are less likely to enter just so someone who is practically a full time rider can win the race. Which makes sense to me – I have a career (outside of cycling) and I often don’t have time to do any training during the week, so I don’t need to pay £20 to enter a race to be dropped on the start line because I am still recovering from working, when others in the race are as fresh as a daisy. That may seem like a negative comment to make, but it’s a reality that many female riders face, I’m afraid.

Having said that, Tickhill Grand Prix on 24 August is leading the way by having an elite women’s race (E/1/2/3) and a women’s support race (3/4 categories only), both of which have sponsorship from Giant Sheffield, so if there are any readers out there who want to have a go at town centre racing but want to do it without racing against the top domestic riders, why not enter the support race, which you can do by clicking here.

I always try to be positive and look for solutions to resolve issues rather than just complaining about the problem and doing nothing about it. British Cycling is now looking at women’s cycling in an attempt to resolve the position, but even I am struggling at the moment to see how the sport can move forward. Only with more opportunities can the sport of women’s cycling in the UK hope to develop properly, but there does seem to be a fair few people who don’t want the sport to progress. There are good points to social media, but just because you get 40 re-tweets to a link to a website doesn’t mean that you will get any more entries.  Neither does complaining about riders not entering an event – they’re even less likely to support an event if they feel that they are being coerced into riding.

DoncasterCycleFestival2014_1071B

Image ©chrismaher.co.uk / Cyclingshorts.cc

Women’s cycling is still years away from achieving equality with the men’s sport; how can it when the numbers participating are nowhere near to the number of men racing? Sport should be aspirational, a means for people to achieve outside of their everyday lives, but women’s cycling is anything but that at the moment. Most domestic races are run by local clubs who have to have an event break even as they don’t have reserves to fall back on, so it usually means that in order for a race to go ahead, there will be a minimum number of riders required to meet the costs of running it. Unfortunately, road racing has additional costs to circuit races, especially if you have accredited marshals, which means that you tend to need at least 20 entrants in order for an event to go ahead, and that’s without prize money. If a race is lucky enough to have a sponsor, then the organiser will want to protect the sponsor’s investment by ensuring that there is a decent field – it doesn’t look good if somebody has put up £1000 in prize money and then 10 people turn up, so if you find yourself being annoyed that an organiser of a sponsored event is complaining about the lack of entries, think twice before making a comment.

I guess in conclusion there are a few things that everybody needs to bear in mind about women’s cycling – there is a long way to go before it can be described as being in excellent condition, it needs rider support to develop and, I am afraid ladies, that if you want businesses to sponsor an event that you are riding in, then you need to enter in advance to support the organiser’s attempts to offer as near to equal opportunity as he/she can provide.

 

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