Joanna Rowsell Shand is launching a new women’s only sportive that will take place in Rochdale this spring.

Double Olympic world champion Rowsell Shand is supporting ‘Ride Rochdale’ – an event being organised by Tim Kelly Cycling Coach, and supported by Rochdale Borough Council and Link4Life as well as British Cycling.

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Over 300 women are expected to take part in the ride in May, along with Rowsell Shand. There will be two routes available – one 45 miles and the other 75.

Joanna Rowsell Shand’s Advice for Cyclists at Every Level

The news comes soon after it was announced that Human Race will no longer offer women’s only Cycletta rides. The Cycletta events will now take place as women’s only waves at existing mixed events.

The shorter route, called ‘Blackstone Vale’ will be 45 miles long, with 4,500 feet of climbing. The longer route, ‘Blackstone Vale and Moor’ will be 74 miles with 8,000 feet of climbing. Both take their names from Blackstone Edge in Littleborough which will feature early on in the course.

Regularly training in the area. Rowsell Shand knows the roads well, and said: “I love the scenery the Pennines have to offer, this is a beautiful part of the world and perfect for exploring on two wheels. The views on these two routes are breathtaking and I’m really looking forward to it."

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She’s currently organising a time trial which offers equal prize money across the genders, and is keen to get more women riding – she said: “Ride Rochdale is a great way to get more women on their bikes and hopefully encourage anyone who was previously daunted by the idea of riding on the roads or taking on such a challenge to get together with a few friends and get involved."

The event will no doubt bring many visitors to the area – and councillor Janet Emsley at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “This new event reflects a growing demand for women only cycling rides, with something for those relatively new to riding as well as more experienced cyclists looking for a challenge."

Hinting at a growing future for the ride, she added: “Places are limited this year, but if this proves popular we will look at increasing our capacity in 2018."

Organiser Tim Kelly is a cycling and running coach. He's keen to help bridge the gap between social riding and challenge riding, and hopes the event will act as an encouraging marker along the way. He said: “Some women are put off cycling by its traditions and male dominance, although whilst lots more women are getting into road cycling there’s definitely a gap for many between social rides such as British Cycling’s Breeze Network and more serious challenges or club membership."

He added: "I wanted to offer two rides that will provide an opportunity for female road cyclists to build confidence and step up to a new challenge, and others to showcase their strength."

Disabled riders are also invited to cycle routes around Kingsway Park Sports Centre during an accessible ride being staged on the same day, aimed at showing how cycling is for everyone. National organisation Cycling Projects with Link4Life Rochdale Wheels for All will provide a broad range of accessible bikes for the event.

For more information visit the website here.