Riding together is a great way to get out on your bike more often and Breeze is British Cycling’s national programme designed to get women doing just that.
Breeze offers free, year-round women-only led social rides run by volunteers, at a rate of 200 per week, aimed at a range of abilities from beginner up, with a focus on enjoyment.
Due to popular demand from Breeze participants, the first Breeze Challenge events were held in 2014, 50km and 100km mass participation events for women who wanted to up the ante – and the good news is they’re in the pipeline again for 2015.
Whether you’re a lapsed cyclist, you want to improve your on-bike confidence, increase your miles, take on a challenge, or just have a laugh with other cyclists in your area, here’s what you’ll need to be a part of it. Breeze is also looking for Breeze champions to lead rides – more below.
What are Breeze rides?
Started in 2011, Breeze’s ambitious aim is now to get a million more women cycling by 2020 through its rides and events.
Breeze rides are fun, social events led by Breeze Champions, female volunteers who set up rides around their schedules.
Rides are classified into “easy-going", “steady" and “challenging", and vary from a couple of miles around a local park or towpath to 50-plus miles on the roads. They usually start or finish at a cafe because, well, tea and cake are an important part of the social side of cycling.
Breeze champions are taught how to safely lead a group and will ensure you aren’t left behind. Although you’ll be expected to arrive on a roadworthy bike, ride leaders can help with any minor mechanical faults. If you fancy learning to fix it yourself Breeze even offers maintenance courses.
How do I get involved?
Breeze’s website allows you to search for rides by location or postcode. You’ll get a list of rides in your area, with important information like the ride distance, level, proximity to you, and how long you’ll be riding for.
Some rides led by others not affiliated to Breeze are included on the website, though you can filter these out, should you want to. Anyone can set up a ride, meet other cyclists or join an existing ride, via the Breeze website or via the social network-style Ride Social website (ridesocial.co.uk).
Breeze challenge events
If you want to up the ante and set yourself a longer cycling goal this year, Breeze’s Challenge rides may be for you. The two first ever women-only Challenge rides ran in 2014 in Warwickshire and Lancashire (50km and 100km routes at both events).
Akin to a sportive, the S word is nonetheless avoided as Breeze feels it can put people off. Still, you’ll find all the facilities of an organised mass participation event at the Breeze challenge rides, including strategically placed snack and loo stops along the way.
The 2015 Challenge ride details and dates are still being finalised. Keep an eye on breezechallenge.com for details.
Fancy becoming a Breeze champion?
Breeze is currently looking for new champions to lead its rides. You don’t need to be Marianne Vos, you only need to be confident on a bike. More than 1,000 female volunteers organise rides across the country, and the oldest is, Judy Robinson aged 78.
Breeze champions take a one day ride leadership course to learn to plan, deliver and promote rides. In return for delivering an average of 12 rides per year champions get British Cycling ride membership, a Breeze kit and support from Breeze HQ. Details of courses are here.
If there isn’t training in your area get in touch with email@example.com to express an interest – they may be able to set something up for you.