How to promote womens participation in cycling clubs?

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  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    I think getting "critical mass" is crucial once you get say a dozen women riding then probably alot more easy to encourage more, but if you have only one or very few, hard to get more. Just my theory. :roll:[/quote]

    Think that's spot on
  • burnthesheepburnthesheep Posts: 675
    Hi,

    I'm looking for advice or suggestions on what my road club could do to promote women members. We are quite a large club w around 200 nominal members, closer to 50-60 more active ones. We have a weekly no-one-left-behind social run, a longer quicker run on Sundays, plus a chain gang. We're also a racing club and have a youth coaching and Go-Ride set up. All of these are unisex and no one has to join, or pay subs, until they've had a few trial runs out and decided they like the set up.
    At the moment we're reviewing the way we do things. We have women members but only a fairly small percentage of our regular participants in the club rides. So, we're looking for tips on what we could to encourage more women to participate. Among the suggestions are some women-only rides. Some shorter come-along-and-try rides (our basic club social club ride is c.40 miles). But I hope you will have some ideas or insights for us to act on.
    To my mind a club should be a place where anyone interested in road cycling can share that interest and develop their abilities but I'm struck by the fact that I see a lot of women out on road bikes but not so well represented in club membership - even my own partner, says she'd never think of joining a cycling club, although she's a strong cyclist and a member of other sport clubs.
    All suggestions welcome.
    Thanks in advance

    I'm not a lady, but I've been trying to get my wife to join me and I've done some more social rides recently with good participation from men and women.

    Now, this is in the US, so results may vary, but this is what I see working over here in the US:

    1. The "core" of the group in the US often isn't the club of bike members itself, it is usually a brewery that hosts group rides and has a "team". It's fine to have a club or team without, but I would encourage engaging in a partnership with a local cycling friendly business. I suggest a restaurant, pub, coffee shop, or brewery that can host riders. They need to have an area for bikes, car park, etc... You get them to do a couple small things and hope it grows. Next thing you know there's a weekly no-drop ride with upwards of 50 people showing up.

    2. Cater to the no-drop crowd for slower recreation riders AND faster recreation riders. If there is success with #1, split the group into a 10 mile maybe 12mph cruise and a 20 to 40 mile faster group.

    3. Have a good active Facebook account for the group with accurate calendar and routine weekly events. Every week, same time, same sponsored brewery or restaurant. Be consistent. I've given up on a few things for poorly updated calendar of events, inconsistency. The one I do attend meets EVERY Weds at 630 except major holiday or thunderstorm.

    4. Have at least one seasonal "event" with 2 distance options. Make a few of these "audax" style with checkpoint cards instead of timer events. Offer a unique thing to see/do at each checkpoint: try a beer here, sample a cheese here, a coffee there etc....

    The key is the right mix of social, food/drink, and riding interest. Regardless of targeting men or women. The key, to me, of getting more of a gender to the group is Facebook networking of existing members posting photos of events. Linking friends to those events, etc.... Connecting the group to the sponsored shop, brewery, cafe on social media. Connecting with other smaller groups with social media.

    I see this working great here in my city in the US. I live in a metro area of about 1 million people I know of about 5 very strong cycling meetup groups. 2 at local breweries, 2 at restaurants, and 1 at a bike shop. I don't count 2 others as it is a triathlon bike shop.

    The mix of men and women in these is very good.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    The main issue I encounter when I'm asked to try and encourage more women to ride, is trying to persuade groups of women to participate at the same time. The argument I hear more than any other, is that the women don't want to go it alone, "if A, B, and C, aren't doing it, I don't feel comfortable joining a group by myself, and I don't have the confidence to ride solo".
  • VitaminCVitaminC Posts: 12
    OK from a female perspective:

    Our local (small) cycling club until recently only offered one weekend ride (approx 60 hilly miles at 16 MPH++) and a midweek ride evening. There are three groups. However, the groups are fast, faster and very fast and even the slowest group is 16/17 MPH + (it's quite hilly round here too). So not surprisingly the riders are mainly men.
    The slowest ride is advertised as 'no-drop' but even so I don't want to be the sole person holding everyone else up.

    My husband is a regular on these rides and he tells me there are two women but they are both strong competitive riders who train 5/6 days per week, so not your average hobby cyclist.

    Recently the group started offering a women-specific ride and I have been going along. However, it tends to be the opposite end of the speed spectrum ie 20-25 miles at around 11/12 MPH, which I find too slow, although I have been sticking with it for the social side of things (I'm new to the area and want to meet people).

    Left to my own devices, I tend to cycle at 14-15mph on hilly rides and 16.5 MPH on a shorter flatter ride (say 1000 feet of climbing over 25 miles). So I seem to fall in the gap of being too fast for the women's ride and too slow for the other club rides. I would like to push myself and improve but I'm not going to do that riding 20 miles at 12 MPH.

    My observations of the women's group are:

    - Tends to be mainly older women (40s/50s). Hardly any younger women, only one under 30. Not sure why?

    - Lots of women don't seem to want to commit, ie they'll come once every 4 weeks and not cycle in between so don't improve. Whereas I think a man who joins a cycling club is more likely to be ambitious and want to improve/go faster.

    - One problem is each week someone new turns up who is quite slow, doesn't have a good bike / the clip in shoes etc which slows the speed right down. Really the group needs to split into beginners / faster riders - and they need to be stricter about enforcing this. Obviously it's great to encourage new cyclists and everyone has to start somewhere but it's quite disheartening for the better riders when someone new turns up with a 20 year old steel bike and running shoes and you know this week's ride is going to be moving at 10 mph.

    So I guess what I'd like to see as a woman is a club ride where there is a 'core' group who come along regularly and can improve together, do some decent length rides and challenging climbs at a decent speed but not too fast. Of course I think there should be rides for beginners but these should be separated out and perhaps new joiners should have to go on the beginners' ride first and only be allowed to progress to the faster ride once they have proved they are good enough.
  • JSBRJSBR Posts: 13
    This is a really interesting discussion.

    Like the other poster, I would love to find a women's ride with more experienced cyclists. Similarly, I find myself too fast for the standard women's rides locally and not fast enough for some of the men's club rides. The "Breeze" rides are a great idea, but just too basic for me.

    I have found that there are several different types of women cyclists:

    - women who would like to start cycling but are feeling incredibly self-conscious about how they look, the equipment they have and probably very nervous about starting something new, especially on their own.

    Our local running club found a great solution to this by having regular 5-week courses (0 to 5km) where they start from the beginning with info on equipment, nutrition, training etc. This could be easily adapted to cycling. The people joining the course know that everyone else will be in the same situation, it is not a long-term committment, but just enough to see if it is for them or not.

    - women who enjoy cycling but struggle to get away from home commitments - shoot me down if you want, but as far as I have witnessed, it is still more likely for the men to take off on their bike rides every weekend leaving the women at home to taxi the kids round to weekend activities. So, maybe a couple of women-led rides during school hours might attract some new members?

    - Thirdly, the keen and fit cycling enthusiasts who are happy to join in the men's rides, but might enjoy some more challenging women-led rides

    I would be very interested to hear what your club ends up doing.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    cld531c wrote:
    Assuming it's a male female thing but it may just be me or the steel bike! Nah, can't be bothered as you know it would just keep happening. I either pull over til they've gone then go a different way at junction, turn off or if I'm feeling particularly evil half wheel til they turn off or have 'a mechanical issue''.

    That's the best way to avoid unnecessary raised blood pressure for sure.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    cld531c wrote:

    Im talking about overtaking and pulling in so you have to slam on your brakes (and legs when on fixed) to avoid a collision. Unfortunately not a rarity as there are some out there (I blame Wiggo not Wiggle) who feel as a man they have to overtake a woman even if their legs arent really up to it, hence the maneouvre!

    It's not just women this happens to. It's an irritating trait of lots of relatively inexperienced riders, who think they can pull a silly overtaking manoeuvre, only to suddenly realise that they were doing 30% less work whilst they were wheel sucking. I let them get in front, wear themselves out, then pass them at the next inevitable climb. Stravalabs Flyby feature is brilliant at showing who it was, and how quickly they blew up.
  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    cld531c wrote:

    Im talking about overtaking and pulling in so you have to slam on your brakes (and legs when on fixed) to avoid a collision. Unfortunately not a rarity as there are some out there (I blame Wiggo not Wiggle) who feel as a man they have to overtake a woman even if their legs arent really up to it, hence the maneouvre!

    It's not just women this happens to. It's an irritating trait of lots of relatively inexperienced riders, who think they can pull a silly overtaking manoeuvre, only to suddenly realise that they were doing 30% less work whilst they were wheel sucking. I let them get in front, wear themselves out, then pass them at the next inevitable climb. Stravalabs Flyby feature is brilliant at showing who it was, and how quickly they blew up.


    At least it isnt just me!!
  • hjghg5hjghg5 Posts: 97
    My club has massively increased female membership/participation over the last few years but doesn't run women only rides. Most of the growth has come from the "social series" half day rides which are positioned as a more relaxed alternative to the traditional Sunday club runs. Lots of choice, leaders and back markers for each group (no group riding skills required so the groups tend to string out then stop to regroup), routes and cafe stops publicised in advance with ride reports posted afterwards so that people can get a feel for what the different options are like before taking the plunge. All the rides are mixed (although a good number of the ride leaders are female) but maybe closer to what some women want when starting riding with a club and not as daunting as the longer faster rides.

    It also helps that we have a high profile female role model (Lizzie Deignan is an honorary club member) and the club's twitter/facebook feeds have lots of women's cycling news on it as a result.

    From that some people have progressed to other groups/racing - we had a women's team in the national TTT last weekend for example and the women's club championships are sometimes more hotly contested than the men's (in the 50 TT next week there are three women and two men). I try to make sure that when I race I do a report for the website so that other people can see that it's an option and something they could try.
  • burnthesheepburnthesheep Posts: 675
    cld531c wrote:
    Im talking about overtaking and pulling in so you have to slam on your brakes (and legs when on fixed) to avoid a collision. Unfortunately not a rarity as there are some out there (I blame Wiggo not Wiggle) who feel as a man they have to overtake a woman even if their legs arent really up to it, hence the maneouvre!

    It's men and women. When I ride solo and it is busy hours for riding, I don't pay any attention to gender or type of bike or kit or skinny or fat.....I keep up to my personal day's plan of how I plan to ride my route.

    If it looks like I'm going to overtake soon, I just make sure it's at a time on my route that I will pass and stay ahead. I hate leapfrog.

    Then again, you'd be surprised how many times you go to pass someone (on a bike or in your car driving with other cars) that as soon as you get beside them there is a magical up-tick in pace or power. It's human nature to avoid being passed. If you're really riding at pace on a solo ride and go for a pass, you're likely not caring or paying attention to gender.

    If you're pacelining, the group needs to be at a fair enough level that everyone can stay in line and rest and everyone can take at least a few minutes turn a couple of times up front. Male or female.

    I've said to someone before that passed back 5 minutes later, then they blew up, "if we meet again, I'll pull off and stop for a few minute break to let you go ahead".

    On the issue with "and legs when on fixed"......I'm sorry but no pity for fixie rides on group rides with freewheel bikes. I've had so many issues on group rides with fixie riders surging on a section their gear choice works well with just to be in the damn way on a climb or a descent.

    I'm sorry if a person chose to do a group ride that has unpredictable things happen on a fixie, it's not reasonable to expect everyone else on freewheel bikes to ride differently because you can't control your bike.

    You don't know if a car pulls out from a side street in front of the leader, they will be grabbing handfuls of brake. Yeah, that fixie rider in that scenario could easily crash out the rest of the freewheel riders.
  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    cld531c wrote:

    On the issue with "and legs when on fixed"......I'm sorry but no pity for fixie rides on group rides with freewheel bikes. I've had so many issues on group rides with fixie riders surging on a section their gear choice works well with just to be in the damn way on a climb or a descent.

    I'm sorry if a person chose to do a group ride that has unpredictable things happen on a fixie, it's not reasonable to expect everyone else on freewheel bikes to ride differently because you can't control your bike.

    You don't know if a car pulls out from a side street in front of the leader, they will be grabbing handfuls of brake. Yeah, that fixie rider in that scenario could easily crash out the rest of the freewheel riders.


    Think you missed the point, I am riding alone when this happens. I would never ride fixed in a group as people/situations can be unpredictable.
  • There's no choice where I live: the clubs are all men and they're too fast for me to keep up with. Occasionally a club pack will pass and for a while, I'll ride in and enjoy the buzz, before having to drop back.

    I've got used to being on my own instead. It took a bit of doing. For a while I really craved company, then for a while I listened to a lot of music instead, but that's a bit dangerous and a risk of points. Years on, I'm now quite happy on my own and use my Garmin to monitor the pace.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,858
    edited November 2017
    the first problem is fewer woman riding for sport than men and they smaller group of regular female riders than men. Tri is where they all seem to be. My wife does tri now and that is the thing that gets her out on her bike. Shame she has to run and swim at the same time but who cares if it get her out on her bike. many woman who ride like my wife are simply not interested in riding in groups or sharing the interest as they dont actually have the interest in the way I do for example. many woman ride a bike because they like getting around that way or they do it to improve fitness or give themslves a goal but they dont need to share it. Let face it groups of men get a bit competative sometimes and that probably put woman off. There are far more woman on the capp club ride which has calmer older men mostly involved than the espresso for example where there are is one lady who turns up regularly. She is a fitness instructor though so is really quick.

    The club I am in has a good number of female riders which is great but the whole reason why is is not 50:50 men and woman on club runs is because it is not 50:50 gender split on a bike overall. many more woman jog as that possibly suit them better and woman may be more cautious and risk adverse and lets face it you have to be a confident person on the road not feel like you don't belong there on a bike. it is proably quite off putting for many.

    Also the couple of time I got my wife on a club run she hated it being told to dig deep on a hill..... I hate that kind of talk as well I can see why she did not want to come again.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,858
    fixed riders turn up on club runs all the time but the ones I know ride a fixed gear bike well and dont have problems. You ride a fixie in a group if you are really skilled at riding a fixie. I am still learning and I will learn by my self.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    fixed riders turn up on club runs all the time but the ones I know ride a fixed gear bike well and dont have problems. You ride a fixie in a group if you are really skilled at riding a fixie. I am still learning and I will learn by my self.

    It also depends on the group! Someone in front coming almost to a standstill up a hill can be quite tricky/ irritating.
  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    Cotterend wrote:
    There's no choice where I live: the clubs are all men and they're too fast for me to keep up with. Occasionally a club pack will pass and for a while, I'll ride in and enjoy the buzz, before having to drop back.

    I've got used to being on my own instead. It took a bit of doing. For a while I really craved company, then for a while I listened to a lot of music instead, but that's a bit dangerous and a risk of points. Years on, I'm now quite happy on my own and use my Garmin to monitor the pace.

    I would be tempted to hang on as long as you can, I wouldnt be surprised if their effort was maxed out with the intention to drop you and that they didnt sustain the same pace for much longer after you'd gone. Even if that's not the case, you get to really push yourself for a bit.
  • MatthewfalleMatthewfalle Posts: 17,571
    Have you tried you local triathlon club? The one around here is so much more friendly, integrating, fun and with a lot more females.

    None of the cycling club clique, the riding standard is just as good as it's a lot more inviting.

    Mine are more than happy for people to just join for rides then you end up being indoctrinated........
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 5,250
    Lots of women in our club, doesn't seem to be an issue so yes critical mass probably helps, you need enough people of similar pace. Swings and roundabouts with big clubs, you get the variety of rides to suit all but they can lose that club feel.

    Riding fixed in a group shouldn't be an issue assuming you have a front brake fitted, the only time I found it a problem was keeping up on descents, not a problem on a club run as you can always catch up but on a chain gang it tends to be goodnight if you are 50metres off the back.
    Holbrook Sports FC Women - sign for us
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    cld531c wrote:
    fixed riders turn up on club runs all the time but the ones I know ride a fixed gear bike well and dont have problems. You ride a fixie in a group if you are really skilled at riding a fixie. I am still learning and I will learn by my self.

    It also depends on the group! Someone in front coming almost to a standstill up a hill can be quite tricky/ irritating.

    Make sure you shout “I’m stopping” nice and loudly, and move to the left, that way the rest of the pack can pass you until the gradient levels a bit.
  • cld531ccld531c Posts: 517
    cld531c wrote:
    fixed riders turn up on club runs all the time but the ones I know ride a fixed gear bike well and dont have problems. You ride a fixie in a group if you are really skilled at riding a fixie. I am still learning and I will learn by my self.

    It also depends on the group! Someone in front coming almost to a standstill up a hill can be quite tricky/ irritating.

    Make sure you shout “I’m stopping” nice and loudly, and move to the left, that way the rest of the pack can pass you until the gradient levels a bit.

    Please re-read....the coming to a standstill on a hill was others, not me on fixed
  • PittersPitters Posts: 12
    I think it’s a tricky one. I go out cycling with my husband and neither of us has really enjoyed going out with a club although we have tried it. We go out regularly with other cycling friends and it’s fun. Clubs are full of people trying to prove themselves and riding recklessly on the road. We also do sportives and the club riders on these use it as a race rather than thinking about others especially the men.
  • milemuncher1milemuncher1 Posts: 1,472
    Pitters wrote:
    I think it’s a tricky one. I go out cycling with my husband and neither of us has really enjoyed going out with a club although we have tried it. We go out regularly with other cycling friends and it’s fun. Clubs are full of people trying to prove themselves and riding recklessly on the road. We also do sportives and the club riders on these use it as a race rather than thinking about others especially the men.

    Don’t let the ( albeit numerous) smashy smashy ‘head down, 20p for the swearbox up’ clubs put you off completely. There are a lot of bad clubs, there are a lot of good ones. Most will let you ride with them for no commitment initially, so try a few, find one that fits your style / needs best, and you might find some enjoyable club rides. CTC ( or we are cycling) https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle/cycling-uk are good, if ‘smashing stuff’ isn’t your bag. Or try and find a group, or a ride with www.letsride.co.uk
  • BucklesBuckles Posts: 753
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