Cycletta cycling events will no longer be standalone women’s only sportives. Instead, the series will now consist of a women’s only wave at four key Human Race events.
The events launched in 2011 - every ride was a women’s only affair and distances began at 20km. Now in its seventh summer, the organisers say that the audience for the Cycletta series has outgrown this format.
Where in 2011, 75 per cent of those taking part in Cycletta events were riding their first sportive, the women’s branch of Human Race say that number now sits at 21 per cent.
This year, Cycletta women’s only waves will be available at flagship Human Race events:
- Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride (Sunday 30th April): 45km women’s wave
- Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France (Sunday 11th June): 100km women’s wave
- Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival (Sunday 16th July): 52km women’s wave
- ICAP L’Etape London by Le Tour de France (Sunday 24th July – entries open Thursday 9th February): 79km women’s wave
Women’s only cycling events have always drawn mixed responses. Some women love to ride alongside those of their own sex alone and value the atmosphere that brings, whilst others are happy to ride a unisex event - though most would value some female company. The move will no doubt come as a positive and progressive movement for some, whilst others might feel Cycletta is letting them down.
"This community has developed over the years, with many of our riders now experienced road cyclists. The decision to offer a series of more challenging rides, therefore, makes sense." Nick Rusling, Human Race CEO
Nick Rusling, creator of the Cycletta concept and Human Race CEO, said: “We are immensely proud of Cycletta’s achievements in attracting thousands of women onto their bikes and creating a genuine community of female cyclists. This community has developed over the years, with many of our riders now experienced road cyclists. The decision to offer a series of more challenging rides, therefore, makes sense. There’ll be no change to Cycletta’s fun and supportive ethos, nor to our dedication to the highest levels of rider safety. This coupled with the stunning scenery and incredible atmosphere of the new venues will make the 2017 Cycletta rides some of the best yet."
Cycletta has gradually changed and evolved every year since its inception. In 2011, the series consisted of just two events in Bedfordshire (Whipsnade Zoo) and Cheshire (Tatton Park). In 2012, the number was bolstered to seven and that continued into 2013 where Cycletta pulled in almost 4000 riders.
For 2014, Cycletta teamed up with Macmillan Cancer Support, taking on a title sponsor and continuing to ride a wave of women’s only cycling. The next big change came in 2015, when the organisers added 100km and 150km routes – maintaining one shorter 20km route in Bedfordshire for those new to cycling, or getting back on the bike after a break.
In 2016, there was yet more change – bringing some concern as the series returned to offering just two events – 20, 40 and 80km rides in Cheshire and 24, 40 and 70km rides in Bedfordshire. And here we are in 2017, with riders mixing in with existing Human Race events.
Those choosing the women’s wave will be able to enjoy the camaraderie of sharing the route with other women and girls, whilst also benefiting from the excitement and buzz of huge sportives that draw in thousands of riders. What they’ll lose is the atmosphere that an all-women's audience can bring.
"Since 2011 we've been part of a continued evolution of female cycling" - Nick Rusling, Human Race CEO
Rusling added: “We launched Cycletta in 2011 as a direct response to the fact that most sportives had a very low proportion of female riders taking part. We deliberately created a new event product for the cycling market, catering to existing and new cyclists. Since 2011 we've been part of a continued evolution of female cycling - not as a sport but a fitness pass-time - and have brought tens of thousands of women together on two wheels, whilst raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support. It's been fascinating and rewarding, and this latest evolution is our next phase."
If joining in on a women’s wave at a Human Race event is up your street, you can find out more here. If you’d rather ride a full on, women’s only event, check out some of the women’s only sportives here.
We'd really love to know what you think - do you see this as a step forwards or backwards for women on bikes?