The London Women's Racing (LWR) League is back for 2017 with a calendar bristling with racing and training events designed to encourage more women to pin on a number.
The league launched in 2016 with the aim of coaxing and coaching women interested in racing. They also wanted to create specific target events and help to cut down the number of clashing race days spreading an already limited audience all over the country.
As well as training days to help riders build skills and confidence, the league offered a calendar of events - points were awarded throughout, with tantalizing prizes up for grabs.
Over 100 women took part in a training day before the season kicked off, and then 82 took part in the spring league whilst 57 raced the summer events.
The league, the brainchild of women's cycling advocate Beth Hodge, served as a launching pad for many riders.
Commenting on the league's coming new year, she said: "2016 was an incredible year, and I'm confident that 2017 will be even better. We've got a seriously hard working committee, exciting sponsors to be announced and even more opportunities for women to get on the line with our new TT league. We genuinely get excited every time a new club signs up so if yours isn't yet, then sign up soon!"
Hannah Nicklen, who is now the league's Social Media Secretary, began the 2016 season as a Cat 4, racing the league and finishing as a Cat 2. Mid-way through the season, she wrote: "It’s been less than a year but I’ve already been on an incredible learning curve the like of which I’ve never found anywhere else."
Deena Blacking joined mid-way through the 2016 season, eventually scooping up a Cat 3 license - she was chosen as the LWR Summer League’s Most Improved Rider.
Writing a post on the site, she offered her best advice and thanked the league - saying: "Like many competitive athletes, I always strive to do better, so getting better at racing was a given. If I had to pick one decisive factor, though, it was probably the simple advice that Watto gave us back at that meeting in June: 'You will only get better at racing, by racing.' This is where the LWR team are owed some serious kudos, because it is thanks to people like them that those opportunities to race more were available."
The league have organised several training days - with more still to come. They've also unveiled the dates for both a time trial and crit race league, below. This year, the crit and road race league is for Cat 3/4 riders only - putting a greater focus on nurturing beginners. Links to sign up pages for each event will be posted on Facebook and Twitter in advance.
Anyone can race the events (provided they have a British Cycling membership or are affiliated to a CTT club for time trials) - but to race in the LWR league you'll need to be a member.
You can join as an individual (£15), or you can ask your club to join (£60). This year, prizes have been donated by Rapha, Yellow Jersey Insurance, OTE Nutrition, Pedal Bites, and Schwalbe. There will be prizes for BC category promotion, most improved, and the best domestique.
Find out everything you need to know about the London Women's Racing League here.