A national manhunt is underway – to identify three male interlopers spotted at a Macmillan Cycletta event in July.
A bystander caught the rather conspicuous offenders on camera, as they lined up in matching Flouro yellow to ride the 100km sportive in Scotland.
The sheepish looking individuals do not appear to have numbers on their bikes or helmets.
Cycletta management would love to hear from the men - Gillian Daly, Senior PR Manager said: "We’d love to know what motivated them to take part and we’d really like them to get in touch with us."
What are Macmillan Cycletta events?
Macmillan Cycletta women’s only rides were launched in 2011 – the aim being to encourage women’s participation by giving female cyclists an opportunity to ride organized events alongside other women. The events also raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
There are hundreds of sportives every year for men and women to take part in together, and Cycletta offer a unique opportunity that is valuable for many women. Organisers have said: "We hope will be no more breaches of protocol from the so-called MAMIL (Middle Aged Men In Lycra)."
Why Women's Only Rides?
And if an equivalent men-only ride were to be created, perhaps partnered with Nuts rather than Grazia, would people not declare it sexist?
It's possible the men pictured simply saw the opportunity to enjoy a way marked route and some female company on the way round. It might even be that they were supporting female friends or partners.
However, we can't help but wonder if the Yellow Musketeers may have been pitching a bit of a protest against the notion of 'women's only'. Even if they weren't, we still reckon it's a discussion worth having.
We understand the 'there are no men's only rides' argument. However, cycling has a history of being male dominated and so women's cycling needs a little more attention to create a balance.
British Cycling are putting their efforts behind getting an extra one million women cycling by 2020, but there is still a long way to go.
In 2013, it was reported that men made three times as many journeys by bike than women. The higher proportion of men cycling means that men make up a large proportion of attendees at cycling events.
Some women are perfectly comfortable riding with large groups of men. However, the fact that 5,000 women have chosen Cycletta this year implies that many prefer to ride in a female only environment.
Gillian Daly, who works with Macmillan Cycletta, said: “Clearly our success has caught the attention of the male cycling fraternity, and they are now sneaking into women-only cycling events on the weekend! We have no idea who they are, why they had decided to take part or even if they made it over the finish line, but we do know they were caught on camera by a bystander looking awfully sheepish."
Organisers are hoping that they won't see any more men taking part in Cycletta events. Of course they are more than welcome to form their own 'men's only sportives' if they feel uncomfortable riding alongside women at mixed events.
There are two more Cycletta events to go this year - one on September 20 in Beaulieu Palace in the New Forest, and one on September 27 at Tatton Park, Cheshire.
Want to see more Cycletta? Check out our gallery here.