Female cyclists on the rise ahead of Women’s Tour

121 days ago

Carmarthen Breeze Champions: Amanda Glanville, Andrea Holley, Diane Clement and Mena Evans.

More women in Carmarthenshire are getting on their bikes, thanks to a British Cycling initiative.

And with the final stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour 2019 taking place in the county next month, hopefully it will inspire even more women to join them.

The HSBC UK Breeze programme trains up volunteer ride leaders, called Breeze Champions, to run supported rides for women.

The role is completely voluntary and involves inspiring other women, lacking in bike confidence, to join them on rides around the UKs beautiful coast and countryside.

There are currently seven Breeze Champions in Carmarthenshire and last year, between them, they ran 58 rides with 254 participants joining them.

Andrea Holley has been a Breeze Champion in Carmarthenshire since last May, she said: “I, like most of us, cycled as a child, but once I learned to drive that was the end of that! I had children, ran a home, worked full-time and didn't really think about cycling. But four years ago, my children were suddenly pretty self-sufficient and I found I had some free time.”

So Andrea started cycling with her husband and soon developed a new found love for biking. After successfully completing Velothon Wales, despite being told by another cyclist that she was ‘too fat’ to do it, Andrea started following the Breeze Carmarthenshire Facebook page.

“Breeze looked completely different from the riding I had been doing - no mention of average speeds, or feet climbed,” she said.

Her friends persuaded her to become a Breeze Champion and Andrea had just started the training when her 47-year-old brother suddenly passed away.

“This was by far the hardest time of my life, but I can honestly say getting out on my bike with the Breeze ladies a couple of times a month has been so good for me. Our rides are fun, we laugh together, ride our bikes and enjoy it. I never want a woman to feel as I did prior to doing the Velothon. I want ladies to see that if I could do it they certainly can.”

Carmarthenshire is hosting the final stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour on Saturday, June 15 with the world’s best riders tackling a 126-kilometre (79-mile) stage between Carmarthen and Pembrey Country Park.

The local Breeze Champions will be taking an active role on the day, including running Breeze rides.

Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths, the council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism said: “It is fantastic to see an increasing number of women in Carmarthenshire are getting involved in cycling. We are delighted that the final stage of Britain’s most prestigious female cycle race will take place exclusively in Carmarthenshire, and hopefully it will encourage even more women to get on their bikes.

“I am delighted that the Breeze initiative is really taking off in the county; yet another endorsement of Carmarthenshire’s ambition to become the Cycling Hub of Wales.”

If you would like to join a Breeze ride on the day of the Women’s Tour, or on any other day, you can find out more details at the Let's Ride website or search Breeze Network Carmarthenshire on Facebook.