Results from a recent Strava survey, and indeed the data collected during our own Total Women’s Cycling reader survey, show that the majority of women do much of their riding alone. For many women, that’s because they enjoy riding alone or because it’s more convenient. However, we’ve also come across comments from those who would like to cycle as part of a larger group, but feel nervous about the idea of joining a formal led ride.
- Reasons to join group rides:
- Miles go by quicker in a bunch
- Push yourself and your fitness if you ride with faster cyclists
- Have others to help out with mechanicals and teach you how to fix it yourself
- Enjoy a natter and broaden your social circle
- Copy the technique and skills of more experienced riders
Of course, if you’re choosing to cycle on your own because that’s your preference, then there’s no need to read on. However, group rides are a great way to develop your fitness, riding skills, mechanical skills (unless you’re a whizz already) and broaden your social circle. All that, and you’ll find the miles just rush by when you cycle in a group – so your Strava weekly totals will no doubt soar.
So – if it’s something that you’d like to do, but feel nervous about – here’s why you don’t need to worry…
Fear of not fitting in
We’re never happy when we hear comments from women who have been on group rides and felt alienated by fellow cyclists. In our book, that’s just not cycling etiquette and it’s not acceptable.
The good news is that though there are a small number of clubs and groups that don’t welcome women with open arms, they are a shrinking minority – most are keen to develop their women’s membership and will have a female secretary charged with that growth.
The best way to avoid the negative experience of choosing a backward thinking group is to do a little research. Most areas have multiple local clubs, so check out their websites and go for one that’s clearly supporting women.
Some such clubs and groups are fairly formal, and centre around a racing culture. However, if that’s not for you, keep looking – other clubs are much more sportive and social orientated and there are also smaller organisations operating via Facebook groups and forums which usually put a greater focus on the social element.
The other option is to search out a women’s only group. For beginners, the most accessible option is to check out local British Cycling Breeze rides. Led by women, for women, it’s not likely you’ll come across any negativity here! There are many women’s cycling clubs, too – Kent Velo Girls for example happen to be the most popular cycling club among our readers.
Hopefully, this last piece of advice is not something you’ll need to put into action: if you are unlucky enough to meet with hostility – try not to be disheartened. There are other groups, other clubs – and it would be a terrible shame to allow a minority to stamp on your enthusiasm – so don’t let them!