Back in July, British Cycling announced their initiative to inspire one million more women to get on their bikes. The Rider Development Sessions for Women and Girls from Go-Ride, aim to build confidence and teach new cycling techniques in a relaxed and informal setting, in closed road venues. Sessions include track, CX, BMX, and road. And over the past 2 weekends I’ve had the opportunity to attend 2 of them….
Last Sunday, the weather a little stormy, I headed over to Burgess Park BMX Track in London, with 10 other fearless ladies for an afternoon of BMXing. As a teen, I had no interest in my brother’s BMX bike, but it seems I wasn’t the only one who’d found a new want to try something different. And different it was!
The session, aimed at women familiar to cycling (most of us road and track cyclists), started with an introduction to ‘what’ a BMX bike is, the difference in handling to our typical 700c bikes and an hour of getting used to being on our toes and using our bodies to control these small rental bikes. Even before we’d put on the smelly helmets, we were all itching to get on the pump-track; and it wasn’t long before we were let loose on sections, slowly building our confidence, speed and pumping action to complete full runs of the track, including use of the start gate and mini races of 3 riders towards the end. We went from being complete novices to race-ready in 2 hours. Not bad going I say!
Today, 50 lady cyclists of different ages and abilities gathered for the first of 4, 4-hour road specific development sessions in the South region. Rather different to an introduction to something completely new, today’s session was with the aim of growing bike handling skills for road cyclists and the main goal of racing; with a Go-Ride race in the final session in December.
Riding round a rather soggy and windy track at Kempton Park, we progressed from group riding, chain-ganging, speedy cornering to finishing with an elimination race, or survival of those with speed and good bike handling skills! (Yes, you read that right. And you’re guessing right too – a questionable decision for road racing with a group of ladies only just getting used to the idea of being bumped and squeezed in a group!). It was great to see so many eager ladies keen to learn and determined not to let the weather ruin it. For me, it wasn’t as fun or exciting as giving something new a go (cycling around a 1 mile course 40 times gets a little tiring), but with intention of racing next season, I hope to build on some skills and if anything, check out what I’m up against.
Having spent the past 2 weekends at two very different events, I can highly recommend giving it a go – whether it’s something completely new, or something you wish to build on. Well done British Cycling for investing the time and money – I’ll be sure to renew my membership next year.