In the Solihull CC we have many female members and we are seeing a very rapid increase in membership, particularly those who are either racing at Under 16 level or are new to competitive cycling.  We are delighted that due to the success of our coaching and development programmes we now have three young female riders on Team GB’s Olympic Talent and Development Programmes.  We are very keen to ensure that we encourage “women-only” racing to suit all abilities as we are very conscious that for women to race against male third or fourth category riders can be a demoralising and intimidating experience for all but the most talented and experienced female riders.  Women's Racing

We are totally committed to organising more women-only races and our views our shared by British Cycling West Midlands.  Keith Evans, our West Midlands Regional Events Officer has encouraged and helped many local clubs organise women-only events for 2013 and we have an exciting calendar coming up in the West Midlands.  Consult the race calendar on  www.britishcycling.org.uk for more details. 

We want to experiment in the early part of the season with some different formats for women-only events at Tudor Grange and WE ASK FOR YOUR SUPPORT in working with us to make the first few events a success and then to help us adapt them to what you, the riders, want for the future.  Some of the events in the West Midlands will be traditional circuit races where women riders of all abilities set off in the same group at the start.  But we believe there is also scope for handicap events to be successful, challenging  and enjoyable for riders of ALL abilities. 

Our first few events will therefore be run on a handicap basis in which the lower categories (i.e. new riders to racing and/or 3rd and 4th category riders) are set off first with second category riders setting off maybe thirty seconds later and the strongest riders going off scratch with maybe a deficit of about a minute.  This will mean that riders will be clustered into groups of similar ability and each “cluster” will have every incentive to work hard and not just be left behind at the start.  It will also mean that stronger riders will have to work hard right from the starting gun to make sure they catch the lower categories.  Different categories will have different coloured race numbers so even if you are left behind by faster riders you can still easily see who you should try to beat in your category.  It means that everyone has something to race for.  To keep entries fee low there are no prizes; it is a simple “turn up and race for the fun of it” concept.

Without doubt we may make some mistakes with the handicapping as we get to know riders.  We intend to be very flexible and if riders are struggling then we will move them down to an “easier” starting group at the next race as we get to see their level of ability and experience.  For the first few events we intend to run with no British Cycling points being available for the top ten.  The reason for this is that we could start riders off with a head start and they could then win the race and find themselves suddenly upgraded to a higher category for which they are not ready.  We hope riders will not be discouraged from entering by no points or cash prizes being available and will adapt if necessary but please support us in the first events. 

Above all, we want our events to be easy to enter, for women only of all abilities, fun to ride and with riders of all abilities mixing with , and learning from,  each other.  British Cycling coaches will be available at the races to give guidance and advice to any riders seeking help or support in their development.

If you are a female Youth A rider wishing to take part in our events,  you must have official dispensation from British Cycling to ride with senior riders on a closed road circuit.  This dispensation is normally given to stronger Under 16 riders who will not be overly stretched by riding against seniors.  To be awarded dispensation you should typically be scoring regular points in national youth series events.  Ask your coach or club members for help.

If you are reading this and wondering whether to take part we ask that you help us support women’s racing by entering and helping us evolve our events.  Let us experiment a bit to make racing enjoyable for you and let’s avoid the need for you to have to race in men’s events all the time.

If you live close to Solihull and are interested in being helped and coached to take part in women’s races we can provide a fantastic club environment for you with many activities of all types, numerous female riders of all abilities and ages and a coaching support programme to help you make that next step.  If this sounds like you then contact Guy Elliott of the Solihull CC at gielliott@btinternet.com.  Our aim is to make the Solihull CC the best club in England for women cyclists so come and join us but even if we are not well located for you we will do our very best to help you!