Updated: Jul 10, 2020
At TenerifeVelo we are keen to promote female cycling and provide opportunities for women to train in an environment in which they feel comfortable and confident.
As keen cyclists ourselves (and yes, several of us are female!), we are aware that all too often women are put off developing their cycling or joining in training sessions, camps or trips for fear of encountering a non-inclusive or overly-competitive environment.
In the UK, too many events still either don't include women's races at all or pitch them among men's races that are too challenging. Or organisers are unclear about which male events women can join. Two categories down? Or just one? We've heard tales of varying policies across different counties.
We've spoken to too many women cyclists who don't feel confident enough to join club rides ("I'm worried I won't be able to keep up") or put themselves forwards for events.
We'd like to help to change that. Cycling is a fabulous sport which we love - at all levels.
And Tenerife is a fantastic destination for women cyclists. We have ridden as part of mixed or all-female groups, or out solo for long rides on the island and we've always received encouragement and support from other road users and cyclists when we are out.
Professional teams give us a smile and a thumbs up as they power past on the uphills (nope, we've yet to catch a wheel to draft us up the Teide climb), and other cyclists have been unfailingly positive as we go about our ride.
Only last week we shared our water at the base of Teide with a pro cyclist who'd run out on his circular route from Los Gigantes (a circa 200km loop) as he pulled in and had a quick chat when he saw us taking a break.
The sense of community on a bike in Tenerife is terrific, as is the respect from drivers and it's sad to see this is not always replicated back home.
We're thinking of planning our first women-only training camp to Tenerife later in the year to help women who'd like to develop their cycling to reach their potential. Let us know what your thoughts are and we can tailor it around that.
Have you had any poor experiences on previous trips? Or do you have any concerns you'd like us to address? You can comment below or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
RESOURCES FOR WOMEN CYCLISTS
Many women who now live and breathe cycling, didn’t always have this love for the hobby and started out with the same thoughts and barriers that may put you off. Have a read of the stories from these women for inspiration on ways you can combat your fears.
British Cycling has launched a page on their website featuring with tips and advice on how to get started: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/womenscycling.
Looking for women-only bike rides? HSBC UK Breeze offers fun, free bike rides for women of all abilities across the UK. Find one near you here: https://www.letsride.co.uk/breeze
If you’re thinking about getting on your bike for the first time (or after a bit of a break), don’t be worried by rumours or put off by perception. Cycling offers a whole host of benefits – from physical, mental and social perks, through to simply getting from A to B in the quickest and cheapest way possible. This is a great myth-busting site, tackling some of the most common misconceptions head on: https://www.letsride.co.uk/article/breeze/seven-cycling-myths-busted.
Riding with other women can help build community and confidence on two wheels. Red Bull published a "top 8 women cycling clubs" piece that is worth a read. "Riding bikes is fun as heck, so it’s a bummer that women are reporting it's difficult to get involved in cycling due to safety concerns, street harassment, and other intimidation. Which is where clubs can come in: riding with other women has proven to improve confidence, build community, and benefit motivation". See:
If you live in London, BellaVelo (https://www.bellavelo.cc/) is a women’s cycling community based in SW London that welcomes all abilities, from novice to elite. They are "passionate about helping and encouraging female cyclists via training, organised rides and social events throughout the year. Most importantly, we believe that cycling should be fun!"
Want a bit of inspo from their current members? Have a look at their testimonials page - https://www.bellavelo.cc/testimonials.html. Member Helen Sharp says: "BellaVelo is a women’s only road cycling club where ordinary women are supported and enabled to do extraordinary things. The club is varied in every sense from the people involved, experience of riders, sessions on offer, and times of day/ week. There really is something for everyone."
Helen raced as part of the InternationElles in 2019, "I cycled every stage of the Tour de France, one day before the men to highlight the gender disparity in cycling and call for an equivalent platform to the tour, in France for professional women... Support came in many forms... Whilst we were away riding it was as if we had the support of the community riding with us each day to get us through the tough parts - we were partly inspiring those back at home, partly receiving advice from those women more experienced and mostly just receiving warm wishes and virtual hugs... We really couldn’t have done it without them. BellaVelo is a really special club and I’m extremely proud to be a member."
In March 2013 British Cycling 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 are determined to narrow this gender gap and find "our millionth woman", and inspire even more women to be regular riders.
Their #OneinaMillion campaign is all about supporting and encouraging women to choose cycling – at whatever level – by tackling the common myths and misconceptions which prevent women from reaching their cycling potential. You can read about their campaign here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/getinvolved/article/20190405-womens-cycling-Be-a--OneInAMillion-supporter-0
The Women’s Festival of Cycling takes place throughout the UK in July. To raise the profile of women’s cycling they put on events to encourage more women to cycle, and feature the women in cycling who inspire others. For further information see https://www.cyclinguk.org/womensfestival
Here at TenerifeVelo we're listening. We want to help, and provide opportunities for women cyclists to reach their goals and be fully supported along the way.
A women-only training camp in sunny Tenerife at our own historic accommodation at altitude is our first step.