Over one hundred women rolled up at Cyclopark Cycling Centre over the weekend to learn road racing skills from coaches and expert riders.
The five hour training extravaganza in Kent was for beginner riders hoping to dip their toes into racing this year, novices who had completed a few events but wanted to develop their skills, and experienced competitors after the finer coaching points.
Complete beginners covered skills such as cornering in a group and riding in close quarters, whilst the more experienced riders worked towards setting up lead out trains for sprinters and mastering the confidence to work through a moving bunch - from the back of the group to the front.
All groups were coached by qualified British Cycling professionals, under the watchful eye of Level 3 coach Huw Williams.
Also assisting were a group of experienced racers from Les Filles race team, Drops Cycling Team, and Matrix Pro Cycling. They rode with the women, giving guidance on pacing, cornering, and the all important skill of holding your line!
Many women arrived feeling nervous about the idea of sitting on the wheel of a fellow rider, and left happy to ride in the middle of a steady paced peloton.
There were plenty of opportunities for those after some sprint training to try their hand at racing for the line, too.
Following the practical element of the day, the riders filtered into the Cyclopark HQ for a theory lesson given by Huw Williams - in which he covered the basics of getting into racing, working with a team to achieve an overall goal, and the principles of training.
There was also time set aside for networking, to allow women to meet other local racers - who they may soon be competing against.
The day was organised by London Women's Racing League secretary Beth Hodge, with the help of members from the committee, and it was sponsored by Rapha who donated a raffle prize.
London Women's Racing provides women in London and the Southeast with a clear pathway to racing, as well as helping to create wider fields by encouraging women to sign up to the same events within their league, rather than racing at assorted events spread out over the country. They have some exciting plans in the pipeline, including a closer relationship with women's cycling group Strongher, so watch this space.
Secretary Beth Hodge said: "We were completely overwhelmed by the turn out and support- the event was fully sold out with two weeks to go, and still people were asking for spots. The team and I are seriously excited about what this could mean for women's racing going forwards. LWR exists to help drive this momentum by working with partners, and I can't wait to see how this develops in the future. All I ask now is that we see this interest turn into race entries, the structure is there, we just have to support it and see it grow."
The reaction on social media following the day was overwhelming, with a great deal of positive feedback sent in the direction of the organisers.
— Jo Lankester (@josnow) February 28, 2016
— Kat Young (@KEYoung29) February 28, 2016
Events such as this one are so important to growing grassroots women's competitive cycling, and attendance has increased massively since the first editions held a few years ago. We can't wait to see these ladies get their racing shoes on - and if you'd like to join them, check out these top ten tips for getting into racing.