Women-only cycling sportives are all the rage. Here's how and why you should be getting on your bike and getting involved
You’ve mastered Zumba and aced your 10K PB. What’s next?
If the buzz surrounding the first Prudential RideLondon Festival this summer is anything to go by, it has to be adding a cycling medal to your tally. Cyclo-sportives have never been hotter, and this year there are more women-only events than ever.
Read Web Ed Nicola's 100-mile sportive cycle training blog
Now's the perfect time to join the cycle revolution.
A few years ago cycling was all about the ‘MAMILS’ (middle-aged-men-in-Lycra). They’re still out there, training in packs and pedalling furiously through all weathers. But in 2013 they’re being joined by a growing army of female cyclists who are giving the sport a major cool-over.
There are now 63,000 more women cruising around the UK on their Pashleys, Raleighs and Bromptons, than in 2011. And this year, SoulCycle - the US spinning studio adored by Lady Gaga - hits our shores, hot on the heels of CycleBeat, a home-grown spinning-only fitness club.
There's already a lot more to women's cycling than sit-up-and-beg bikes and cute dogs in baskets. Experts are predicting that we're craving a more goal-orientated element to our biking. ‘Just as we’ve had an explosion in women-only running events in recent years, we’re now starting to see cycling sportives and training holidays dedicated to women,’ says cycling writer and sportive coach Rebecca Charlton.
Choose a bike to fit your needs
While we still crave that sense of achievement from crossing a finish line, for many women these days, fitness is about more than just setting a new PB. And as feel-good sports go, group cycle rides, or sportives, are proving to be hard to beat. Satisfyingly challenging, but also social - enough to become a viable alternative to a Sunday roast with your mates. 'Sportives aren't intimidating or over-competitive, they're fun,' says Rebecca. ‘The women I speak to love the fact that they can get their girlfriends together or head along on their own, and know they’ll be in a like-minded environment with plenty of support.'
Long-distance cycling: the 20-week cycle training plan
There are now more than 300 sportives to enter in the UK alone. The year's hottest ticket? The first ever RideLondon 100 in August to mark the first anniversary of the London Games attracted a massive 55,000 entries for 20,000 places. Adventure travel specialists Global Adventure Challenges say bookings for foreign cycle challenges are booming too, with female sign-ups for the 275-mile London to Paris challenge up a whopping 303% year-on-year.
Sign up for your own sportive this year
Zest's Deputy Art Editor Erica Bund cycled the London-Paris last year and was instantly bitten by the biking bug. ‘No words can describe the feeling I had cycling towards the Eiffel Tower in a convoy of 350 cyclists’, she says. ‘People were cheering and beeping their car horns in support and I was totally overwhelmed by my achievement. It's an experience I’ll never forget.'
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