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Narrowing the gender cycling gap

By Nicole Tur, Operations Director at Noba Event Wi-Fi

In 2009 I purchased my first road bike and it changed my weekends forever. Three years later I joined my first cycling club and I was the only female cyclist in the club. I was really benefiting from being part of the club, it motivated me to turn up when I signed up for rides and my time spent on my bike was increasing and so was my fitness. I had noticed many other women out cycling on their own in my area but they weren’t joining our club so I created a women-only ride for the club and started spreading the word locally and via a Facebook group. 

Seven women turned up to cycle with me on the first group ride. I remember it vividly. It was a cold, rainy Easter Saturday yet we all had such a brilliant day. Some with old bikes, some with new and all of mixed abilities. But it didn’t matter. We shared a great adventure that day and continued to do so afterwards on a regular basis. It wasn’t long before my daughter Savannah wanted a piece of the action. She used to ask me: “Mummy when can I come out riding with you girls?”.

In 2018, encouraged by one of the women that joined the cycling group, I started Cyclocross racing. It is heart-pumping stuff where you feel equally scared and exhilarated, it’s pushed me outside of my comfort zone to be braver and learn new skills. For all the fears I had about racing it’s helped me worry less and laugh more. When the whistle blows (to start the race) the bunch spreads out, no one really knows where you are, you just need the will to keep going for 40 hard minutes. You don’t have to win to enjoy a good race, we’re racing and enjoying friendly competition at the back too. 

Savannah has been taking part in Cyclocross since she was three years old. With Savannah racing too it gives me a fascinating platform to parent from. We discuss our fears, failures and achievements and we can match them to everyday life happening around us. We set ourselves challenges and goals, it increases our resilience and most of all it makes us really happy, it’s so much fun. 

We’re passionate about cycling at Noba and it was an attractive selling point for me when I joined the company. We keep bikes at work and we go for group rides in the day, it’s been very refreshing after years of working in London to be able to take a break for an hour in the fresh air. Savannah’s first season in Cyclocross was very successful and she finished second in the Central Cyclocross League overall after 12 races. Noba was very kind and offered to support her second year of racing, she’d grown out of her bike and they offered a financial sponsorship deal that allowed me to purchase a top of the range kids racing bike for her 2nd season. Savannah’s second season on her new bike has been even more successful with 12 race wins and overall league winner to be crowned U8 girl Cyclocross Central League Champion and she also won the British Cycling Cyclocross Regional Championships in her age group.

Cycling has changed my life and has helped me build strong social connections with family and friends, we’re creating lifelong memories and friendships. At the Cyclocross races Savannah’s playing outdoors with a sense of freedom and independence that I enjoyed as a child. She’s learning to deal with disappointment, be gracious in defeat and proud of her achievements. 

In March 2013 British Cycling, the national governing body for cycling in Great Britain, announced an ambition to get one million more women on bikes by 2020. Since then over 800,000 more women have been encouraged to take up cycling, however two thirds of frequent cyclists are men (compared to countries like Denmark where male cyclists account for 47% and female cyclists 53%). British Cycling is determined to narrow this gender gap and find its millionth woman, before going on to inspire even more women to be regular riders. Its #OneinaMillion campaign is all about supporting and encouraging you to choose cycling, at whatever level, by tackling the common myths and misconceptions which prevent women from reaching their cycling potential.

Having now entered a new year, in fact a new decade, I’d like to challenge the events industry to get out on their bikes and create their own cycling communities. Let’s ride together and motivate each other, congratulate and inspire each other to stick with it even when it is raining, scary and cold.

Are you #OneinaMillion?

Posted 6th February 2020