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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Learning from the Girls

One of the problems with any club is keeping all the members happy. 
It’s a  near impossible task, a bit like choosing a menu.
You think that you may have all bases covered by offering both meat and vegetarian dishes but forget about the poor old pescetarian. 

There will always be somebody who is not totally satisfied, so trying to please the majority is often the compromise.

This is certainly  very true for cycling Clubs.
When we first set up our own club ‘The Mules’ - it was simple.
We just wanted to ride with our mates, explore the countryside and take part in a few charity rides.

As cyclists we collectively have similar motivations to ride, but like many things they change over time. 
I love chocolate profiteroles but I would not want them every week.

With changing personal ambitions the initial collective spirit of a group can be undermined. As individuals we are influenced by our own personal goals, aspirations and egos which are not always compatible. If we let them take over our riding and go unchecked, it  can,  and does  effect the dynamic of a cycling club.

Some of us had previously suffered  at other clubs with higher testosterone levels, which lead to our respective departures.

I am sure you’ll know of clubs where individual ride times, effort and achievements become seemingly more important than assistance, support, nurturing and the overall collective experience. 

What’s  more rewarding - helping out a mate who is having a hard day in the saddle?
Or riding just out of reach, detached from everyone?

Thankfully we try to resist that attitude and cling on to an ‘inclusive’ principal, It’s not always easy.

Ego and machismo are predominantly male traits,  part of our DNA.
When harnessed properly they can be useful,  but often they are not.

I suspect that these  characteristics are also an influencing factor in when female cyclists look to join or remain within certain cycling clubs.

It does not surprise me that as cycling has grown in popularity across both genders that we have seen an explosion of women only cycling clubs.
 With the exception of football it appears that such cycling clubs out number any other sport, in respect of locations accessibility and overall numbers.

They appear to have the same motivational factors to ride as us men without the testosterone. Unshackled they appear to be able to ride with a smile rather than a grimace or snarl. 

During a recent Mouvember Sportive I met up with some of the ladies from the Wetherby based "Yorkshires Lasses Cycling Club" and asked them about there experiences and how they formed

They epitomise all that is good about group cycling, by keeping it simple.

They are ladies that like to cycle, socialise and have some fun on two wheels.

 The club was set up due to the founders having had mixed experiences in other clubs and felt that a ladies only club would be more encouraging and less competitive.
 Set up by Kate Horsfall and Judith Worrall, two good friends who wanted a club just for women, run by women to encourage ladies to get out on their bikes have fun, get fit, meet new friends and more importantly with a bit of cake indulgence thrown in!!

The club was set up in March 2015 and within a few months had 60 ladies joining, way above any expectations that Kate and Judith had, and highlighting a demand for women only clubs  and how many women are getting  into the sport.

 "The secret to the clubs success is that we are just all normal ladies (some a little bonkers!) with busy lives, family and work commitments. 

We are not super fit athletes, chasing stats and trying to keep up with each other.

 We are a group of lasses who like to meet up and ride our bikes, stop for a cuppa and some cake and have a giggle along the way. We have different abilities in the club and try to mix our rides so we offer something for everyone, from sportives, club rides and mountain biking. We also offer beginner rides for those who may not have been out on their bikes for a few years, and want to start building up those miles. We normally have a mix of rides, both mileage and elevation wise every Sunday, and try to all meet at the same cafe stop when routes permit.

They even cater for those who want a bit more without compromising their spirit.

"We all have our own personal goals just like any other club rider, and give ourselves a hard time when we struggle on hills, but the main thing is we encourage each other to improve and have fun on the way."  

"We have a good social life within the club on and off our bikes,which  highlights the success of the club. Members now actually enjoy spending time with each other, not just racing each other on the tarmac or out splashing through the mud.

Just because the lasses have fun doesn’t mean that they don’t challenge themselves – a few lasses wanted to challenge themselves and planned 100 mile rides in 2015, others cycled 400km across Tanzania, a 100km night ride in London will be done by some in May this year, and plenty of sportives have been entered too.

It seems there is no stopping these Yorkshire Lasses as within their first year they are also organising a sportive in aid of three women’s cancer charities, Breast Cancer care, Jo’s Cervical Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action. 

Three routes are being offered a 30, 60 and 103 miles. So far over 50 ladies have signed up for the sportive which will be a non competitive event, yet challenging enough on some routes for those ladies that want to push themselves. The shorter routes also cater for those wanting to do their first sportive. Anyone interested in entering can do so here

This month the club welcomed its 100th member and is going from strength to strength, with their sportive in August and 1st anniversary in March - 2016 is certainly looking like an exciting year for the Yorkshire Lasses.

These girls certainly know how to have fun and enjoy their two wheels

To find out more have a look at their website and blogs

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