A report into the factors preventing female cyclists from signing up to ‘challenge events’ or sportives has listed three key concerns women have about taking part.
The Women in Sport report was commissioned by British Cycling in 2015 and forms a part of their drive to get 1 million more women riding by 2020.
Investigators spoke to women from three key groups: regular challenge riders, recently transitioned challenge riders, and recreational riders. A challenge ride was defined as ‘a large, organised, noncompetitive ride where you don’t race each other’.
The data collected was qualitative – meaning it was probably hard to put numbers into the results, but the information would have been far more in-depth. The three key factors they found cropping up repeatedly were:
Fear of not fitting in
Women felt “It’s not for people like me” – there is a perception among recreational riders that they would not fit into that type of ride. One recreational rider said: “It’s for lycra-clad whippets, not for the likes of me.”
Fear of what might happen on the day
One recently transitioned rider said: “My biggest concern when I was thinking about entering [a challenge ride for the first time] was that I would let everyone down.”
Lack of confidence
This is something we’ve written a lot about at TWC recently and clearly it’s something bothering lots of women. A recreational rider said: “In my mind [to enter a challenge ride] you go from pootle rides to Bradley Wiggins overnight.”