Female ride leaders inspiring more women to take to two wheels

Women in north Oxfordshire are being helped to get into cycling thanks to the creation of free, female-only bike rides in Cherwell.

Published: Thursday, 19th August 2021

As part of Cherwell District Council’s new partnership with British Cycling, new breeze ride leaders have been trained up by the national governing body, to guide women on bike tours of the local area, helping them to gain confidence on two wheels.

Councillor Phil Chapman, Lead Member for Leisure and Sport, said: “Encouraging more people to take up cycling is a key priority for Cherwell, but we know there are some barriers preventing people from doing this. These free sessions are run by women, for women, to increase confidence in both riding ability as well as awareness about bike maintenance. They are a supportive introduction to help women on their journey to enjoy a lifetime of happy cycling.”

The breeze rides vary in length from short rides to familiarise riders with their local town or village, to longer trips to take in the surrounding countryside. The leaders are on hand to help with navigation as well as to assist with any quick mechanical issues with the bikes.

Women without a bicycle can be offered a serviced, preloved bike for free. Email the team at FASTbikes@cherwell-dc.gov.uk for more details.

Heidi Yates was one of the volunteers who trained to become a breeze ride leader this summer. As a member of Banbury Star Cyclists Club, Heidi’s already a confident rider and wanted to share her love of cycling with others.

Heidi said: “As a breeze champion I organise rides specifically for ladies of varying abilities, with the aim to help them build confidence and go out on our roads and trails on their bikes.

“The course was organised through Cherwell District Council and I will work with them to target different parts of our community and encourage all ladies of different ethnicities to ride their bikes.”

Anyone interested in attending a guided cycle ride in Cherwell can use the postcode search in British Cycling’s dedicated website www.letsride.co.uk/breeze. You can also follow the Breeze Network for Bicester, Banbury and Buckingham on Facebook at @BreezeThreeBs for the latest news and planned trips.

The next breeze ride is taking place this Friday (20 August), leaving Whitelands Farm Sports Ground in Bicester at 9.30am. To book your place, head to www.letsride.co.uk/rides/breeze-to-the-barn