The velodrom Lee Valley VeloPark is introducing women-only track sessions this month, in a move it says is driven by demand from female riders.
The fortnightly one hour taster sessions cost £30, start on January 18 and can be booked to the end of March, with the first one sold out already. There are also women-only track sessions for accredited riders at £22.
It is hoped the sessions will encourage more female participation on the track and feed into what is believed to be the first ever all women’s amateur track league in the UK, the Full Gas Cycling Winter Track League, also based at Lee Valley.
Lee Valley PR Officer, Paul Bloomfield-Bray, said the sessions are linked with the This Girl Can campaign by Sport England to celebrate active women and encourage more women to take part in sport.
He said: “It is something we have been talking about doing since our launch in March; we had to find out if it is something that people want to be involved in.
“It’s part of what a lot of people are doing around This Girl Can campaign, which we are linking up with this year [as part of] a big push to encourage participation of women in cycling.”
He said with this league they have been fortunate enough to have enough women to hold women only races, and though some will relish the idea of women-only sessions, some will still prefer to ride in mixed groups.
“There has to be 24 or more people in a league race so a lot of time what happens is women end up taking part with the men of their level because there just aren’t enough women.
“There is a very divided attitude: some like being with the men because it pushes them, but some feel held back because when they are learning they don’t feel quite as comfortable – they may end up further towards the back and that can de-motivate them.”
As with mixed gender track accreditation, those who graduate from the taster session, which teaches the basics of track riding, can then move on through the four level accreditation process, all of which can be done in women’s only sessions.
Full accreditation can take a couple of months to fit in between life commitments, so by starting now new riders could be league-ready by the start of the next season.
Full Gas Cycling, which started in October, ends its first season in March, after which point riders can participate in Structured Quality Training, to train and prepare them for various track disciplines. Most of the current crop of league riders are club members with a good level of fitness.
Whether you fancy women’s only or mixed sessions, an hour’s taster for fun or something more involved, the experience is, unsurprisingly, popular among those who want to ride on the “world’s fastest track”, where Team GB triumphed during London 2012.
Dame Sarah Storey will make her Hour Record attempt at the velodrome on 28 February.
Visit the Lee Valley Velopark website track page for details and to book.