Posts Tagged ‘women’s cycling’

Dare to dream and achieve

May 20, 2015 at 2:05
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Want to get fit while taking part in new challenges you’ve never done before? Join our Dream Team and get in shape while also helping raise money too should you wish


From 5km races to adventure races and endurance races from one coast of Scotland to the other, our Dream Challenges 2015-2016 offer something for everyone, from the total beginner to the regular exerciser to get excited about.

Having a focus gives your training impetus and being part of a team ensures that you stick to your goals and your training. Want to become one of our Dream Teams? Click here for details.

But our Dream Challenges 2015-2016 are about more than just seeing how fit you can become or how far you can push yourself physically and mentally.

It is our way of helping to raise money for charity and this year, our fundraising is going towards The Martlets Hospice and one, as yet undecided, worldwide charity.

You can read about why and visit our fundraising page here. You DON’T have to raise money to take part (we know that fundraising is difficult and if you’ve done it once, it can be hard to ask friends and family for money again) BUT if you can share our page, or get more people involved in joining one of our Dream Teams that would be a great help.

Alternatively, why not purchase one of our specially designed Dream Team t-shirts, £20 (plus £2 P&P) all the profit which will be donated to The Martlets (Purchase below) or our other chosen charity.



Size & Style

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HiiT SQUAD launches Saturday 21st March

March 18, 2015 at 5:49
Posted by Rachael Woolston

If you want to get fit and in shape quick, don’t miss experiencing our HiiT sessions, now launching THIS SATURDAY

High intensity interval training works because psychologically, you know it is only for a short duration so it is much easier to challenge yourself further. In just 30 minutes, you can do quadruple the effects of an hour spent plodding along on a treadmill in the gym or wandering from machine to machine wondering what to do.

Plus, when you work at such an intensity (and that means a level that is right for YOUR level) you burn more calories once you’re finished than if you had spent an hour doing moderate exercise.

Most of all, HiiT SQUAD is fun. It has a sense of community, it’s outdoors and you’ll do things that you will never have done before. Which is a tonic for the mind, body and soul.

So, start your weekend off right by joining us at HiiT this Saturday. If you’re new to us, you can get this session as a free trial. Or book a class pass of 10 by midnight TONIGHT (Wednesday 18th March) and get five complimentary sessions.

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Girls on Bikes – MTB Workshop

August 4, 2014 at 4:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Always fancied trying off road mountain biking but been too scared to try? Our first time mountain bikers discovered just how much fun it is during our specialist workshop last weekend as part of our#fitbitchrideseries workshop

Here’s what they had to say about it:

Nicky Binning, Improvers Workshop 

‘It was awesome!! Mark was patient, practical and tailored his approach to suit the group. A great way to build confidence and “have a go” Really enjoyed, lots of fun, great value for money and it’s inspired me. Can’t wait to get out on the trails again.’

Debbie King, Beginners Workshop

‘I loved it! I was so nervous about going, but everyone was so lovely and supportive and Mark was brilliant. It was a great couple of hours.’


If you are interested in future workshops, and mountain biking or road biking we have a free Fitbitch Ride community training for events. It doesn’t matter WHAT level you are, only that you are committed to training for events.

Our next workshop will be for road biking where you will learn how to ride in a peloton…and perhaps more importantly, how to fix a puncture!

To become part of our #fitbitchrideseries, click HERE to become part of our online Facebook community.

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#womens100 – women’s cycling

July 21, 2014 at 11:47
Posted by Rachael Woolston

On July 20th, as part of our new women’s cycling initiative #fitbitchrideseries, we joined Rapha’s bid to get 8000 women cycling 100km

Hot, hot, hot, is how the day started and ended. But with a bit more sweat, grime and chain grease, etched onto calf muscles and smeared on faces, at the finish.

Cycling 100km is no mean feat. Add on almost 50km more, as some of us did, and it becomes a battle of mind over aching muscles and fatigue (unless your name is Anna Stavrianakis, who is a champion cyclist in the making).

But six of us took part last weekend, with two of the Fitbitch crew, Paulina Alwin and Elouise De Santo, both beginners, doing the ride with the Breeze Network. Set up to encourage more women into cycling, all their rides are free and perfect for beginners.

Meanwhile, another five (one cyclist met us en route) rode almost 150ms, out and back to Box Hill in the North Downs, which formed part of the Olympic cycling route.

Summiting Box Hill, the cafe was full of cyclists. Still, mostly male but at least we knew our contribution to Rapha’s campaign, #womens100, helped swell the numbers of female cyclists out on their bikes around the world that day to 7538, just shy of their 8000 target.

Here at Fitbitch though, we are not content to sit back and increase participation for just that one day. Our ongoing target is to see women getting on their bikes and being part of a competitive, but supportive cycling community.

So why not join our #fitbitchrideseries? You can read about it more HERE.

It is completely FREE. All we ask is that you participate, both in taking part AND in helping out. This will mean taking your turn in helping to ride at the back of a group, and ride/lead at the front of a group that suits your pace.

If you are a beginner who just wants to cycle socially, the Breeze network is the ideal solution.

Alternatively, the #fitbitchrideseries is about training for an event, whether it’s MTB women’s only race, Stilletoes on Wheels, or a cyclo sportive. This does NOT mean that you have to be super fast or super fit. Just willing to train to improve and enter races. We will have different paced groups suitable for different speeds.

We have workshops coming up on bike maintenance, how to ride in a peloton, single track MTB and much more. To find out more visit our Timetable. All of the specific details of training rides will be posted in our closed Facebook group.  Request to join HERE.

 Our Boxhill ride in numbers

Cyclists: 5

Total kms: 146kms

Cakes: 1 banana chocolate, 1 Victoria sponge, 2 flapjacks

Water: 15litres. Approx.

Bike crashes: 1

Bike falls: 3

Punctures: 0

Success: 100%

Enjoyment: 100% (except last Devil’s Dyke climb).



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Girls on Bikes – Fitbitch Ride Series

June 24, 2014 at 6:02
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Described as the battle between some of the world’s best cyclists, the Tour De France still only allows male competitors. Isn’t it about time that we took to our bikes, girls?


In less than a month, 180 cyclists will join the Grand Depart of the Tour De France, all of them men. One of the greatest cycling events in the world and yet in the year 2014, women are still not allowed to participate.

Why? Because it is deemed too  hard. Yet, over 30 years ago, Beryl Burton from Leeds, held the men’s 12 hour time trial record. This in 1967, when the opportunities open to women in any sport, let alone cycling were slim.

She showed true Fitbitch spirit when she pedalled 277.25 miles in 12 hours, famously overtaking her rival, Mike McNamara, and giving him a licqourice allsort as she passed. Her record held for two years.

We’re determined to help encourage more women into cycling in honour of Beryl’s record and are joining the cycling brand,#RaphaWomen’s 100 campaign, which aims to get women cycling 100k on the 20th July 2014, to coincide with the 22nd edition of L’etape Du Tour, where amateurs ride a stage of the Tour de France.

This year, they’re hoping to double the number who took part, to 8000 women. You can take part in an organised Rapha route or cycle independently with your own group.

Here at Fitbitch though, we’ve decided to carry on their initiative and get women involved in cycling for good, not just on ONE day with our #Fitbitch Rides Series.

Launching in August, every Saturday or Sunday morning we will meet for either a MTB ride (starting Sat or Sun 2/3rd August), or road cycle, alternating each week.

Our MTB rides will be a mixture of distance rides of around 2 hours, and single track through Stanmer Park. Our Fitbitch Road Rides Series will start at a distance of 15 miles and build progressively every alternate week to reach 75miles. Our aim for both groups is not just to create a community of competetent female bikers but to enter teams into events.

Our first challenges? Stilletoes on Wheels MTB Race at Stanmer Park (you can do a trial lap or a relay race) and/or the  Wiggle South Downs 73mile.

We would LOVE to see a the Fitbitch bike community at Stilletoes on Wheels, September 6th  AND a female peloton at the Wiggle Event in Fitbitch jerseys.

So, come on, are you going to carry on Beryl’s legacy?

You DON’T have to be experienced, nor super fast or super competent, you just have to WANT to do this. Live Bravely. Be inspired, be Inspiring. That’s our motto. Although we may have to appropriate licqourice allsorts as our motif!

Interested in the Rapha Ride? Click here

Want to become part of the Fitbitch Rides Community? Join our online Facebook group by clicking HERE. Remember these rides are FREE and are about building a women’s biking community. You will be expected to know the route in advance (shared via our Strava account Fitbitch Run & Ride) and be prepared to be supported and be supportive.

If you want to know more about Beryl, read her autobiography Personal Best. 

A play about her life, Beryl will also be showing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 30th June.





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Event Review: Prudential Ride London

August 8, 2013 at 4:30
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Soooo relieved to be off that seat!


Four weeks of last minute training (but thanks for the place combined with an event information sheet that made getting to the start line seem as tricky as getting into Fort Knox, saw me awake early but not bright eyed  (a 5am wake up call, thank god I was in wave R, not A) for last weekend’s inaugural Ride London.

A 100 mile cycle sportive, from the Olympic Park out to the North Downs via the deadly, thigh-sapping hills of Leith and Box Hill, and back to Pall Mall, all on closed roads, it had received 50,000 entries for only 20,000 places.

It was a hot ticket but at that time of the morning, realisaton dawning that four training rides was little preparation, I was half considering giving my ‘hot seat’ away.

But with my cycle jersey weighed down with sweets, malt loaf and two bagels with peanut butter and banana , I set off from the Mercure Greenwich hotel (perfect location if you need to overnight in London beforehand – ask for the top floor…stunning views) to be dropped off at the pre-booked ‘drop off’ point by the Blackwall Tunnel.

It was nice to see I was not the only one doing the ride alone, as various partners bid their other half’s goodbye.

A three mile ride to the Olympic stadium reminded me how to use my cleats again and my anxiety slowly vanished as the excitement at being part of such an incredible event took hold.

With 16,000 riders actually taking part, start times were split into waves, and so as I was cycling there, others were whizzing past in the other direction in perfectly formed pelotons.

It meant that by the time I arrived at the Olympic Stadium, Anish Kapoor’s iconic Orbit etched against the sky, I was both excited and terrified again. Would I fall at the start line? Or commit some terrible cyclist’s faux pas?

My fears were not helped by the fact that the announcer set off every wave with the words, ‘No one has fallen yet. If you’re the first, it will be on Youtube in seconds with millions of hits.’

Thankfully, as the starting gun went off, I managed to cycle myself away from the start line amongst a packed group of cyclists without embarrassing myself.

From the off, peletons formed and sped off, cycling at scary speeds. I was tempted to try and tag on to one but didn’t  know how.

If you’ve never been in a cycling pack, it is an intimidating thing. For the next five miles, I observed the signalling of the cyclists flashing past and then decided to throw myself in at the deep end.

Catching on to a peloton, I began pistoning my legs furiously. It was worth it.

According to statistics, the reduction in drag can be up to 40%. It certainly felt like it as I whoosed through the car-free streets, out through east London, only dimly aware of the iconic sights of my home city.

Road biking is not like running, where you have time to take in your environment. Do that in a peloton and you could find yourself in a mass pile up.

The first 40 miles, out through west London to Richmond Park and beyond passed in a flash. Determined to power on, my first stop was at Newlands Corner almost half way through the ride.

Here there were water stations and the chance to wolf down one of my bagels. Along the way, I’d been taking handfuls of salted trail mix, combined with fruit pastilles and chocolate drops. I don’t like manufactured sports supplements but in a bike race they may be useful simply for ease of eating while on the bike.

Feeling revived I headed out to face the first of the ascents, Leith Hill which make up the 4,325 feet of vertical climb of this event.

It was carnage, with people walking their bikes up the side of the road, but I clung on, out of my seat,  pumping my legs to be rewarded by a snail’s pace.

But my spirits were lifted to see two teeny thirty something girls flying up the hill, a few men trying, and largely failing, to draft behind them.

It was nevertheless disappointing to see how few women were riding, a shocking  3,578 to 13,688. Still those two girls (thanks ladies!) kept me going to to the top where I slumped  into my seat, my shoulders and neck aching more than anything else.

At that point, all that kept me going was the thought of seeing my friend at 60miles, and my boyfriend who’d promised he would be at the top of Box Hill.

Cycling 100 miles is a strange thing. At times absolutely inspiring and heart pumping, leg burningly hard in a good way. At other times, incredibily monotonous, nothing but the sound of wheels on tarmac and your own breath.

I stopped again just before Dorking, wolfing down my remaining bagel,  feeling smug that I hadn’t sucummbed to energy gels as one man stumbled out of the Portaloo, looking green and complaining to his cycle buddies.

Then I was off, alas flying blind as my Garmin watch had decided to give up the ghost. But I felt comfortable with signalling and had learnt that the best thing I could do was draft behind any big, fast moving blokes passing.

I was so in the zone, my brain slightly switched off from anything but cycling that I ended up passing my friend in a flash, both of us looking startled at suddenly seeing and missing each other.

In one way, it was a good thing as my neck was painful from being scrunched up and I knew Box Hill was just around the corner.

Thankfully, in the only long training ride I’d done, I had cycled Box Hill and hadn’t found it too bad. Still, I was relieved to stop when my boyfriend came into sight at the top of the hill, the wind blowing furiously. Then again…

Meeting your partner’s mum for the first time is never going to be easy. But meeting them having cycled 65 miles and being incoherent from lack of food, barely able to stand is a whole new ball game.

Trying to be polite, charming and chatty while simultaneously sucking down orange segments, the pith sticking in my teeth and juice runing down my chin was not a good look.

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to motivate myself to get back on the bike. Until they told me Boris Johnson had only just passed.

With just 35 miles left to go, I was off but beginning to worry how my body would react in the final stages.

I’m used to running marathons. I know how to avoid bonking. But I didn’t know what was going to happen on the bike.

I hit a low point just past Leatherhead when the ride just seemed such a slog and I was bored. I pulled over to the side, drank some more water and necked some more sweets.

I forced myself back on the bike, feeling I had nothing left in my legs but to trundle along. That was until two men, both wearing Stroke Association charity tops, who were drafting for each other sped past. I tucked in behind them and it was the best thing I could have done.

Whoever you guys were, thank you. They were fast, and it spurred me on to find reserves of energy and a sprint which I’d thought was beyond me.

I don’t think they ever realised I was behind them. Nor did I realise that I’d picked up 20 cyclists behind me until I wondered why people were cheering furiously as we swept through Kingston in a big, speeding snake of a steel and carbon fibre.

Inevitably the peloton dispersed and I was left, feeling like I’d been spat out the end of a vortex.

But at last, the 95 mile mark came into view. Like marathon running though, those last five miles seemed to go on forever.

Even though we were cycling past the Houses of Parliament, I was beyond caring. My butt hurt, my neck was screaming for relief from being hunched over and I just wanted to be off the bike.

But as I turned the corner into Pall Mall to the roar of the crowds, it was an absolute thrill to start pumping my legs one last time as I dashed towards Buckingham Palace,  overwhelmed anew at being part of such an incredible event.

I was thrilled. I’d managed to overtake Boris and I’d finished in 6 hours 18mins, a good two hours faster than predicted.

I’m a big believer in the fact that you should push yourself outside your comfort zones and do something new to make yourself feel alive. RideLondon was certainly that and it really IS achievable for anyone who puts their mind to it.

So come on girls, registration for Ride London 2014 opens soon. I’d love to see an all female peloton flying through the streets.


Things you only learn when doing a 100mile cycle spotive but would be really good to know before…

1. You need cycle gloves. I purchased some the day before. They were untested but the gel pads saved my wrists and hands. The negative? I should have worn them on a ride beforehand. I’ve got chunky fingters which swell when I exercise, so they effectively worked as a torquinet around my little sausages.

2. A bike seat hurts at 80miles. Do women’s seats make a difference? I wished I’d tried one.

3. You may feel like you’re wearing a weight vest with all that food in your jersey but you really need it. Practise getting your food out while cycling. Alternatively, channel our inner Charlie’s Angels and practise ‘drawing’ your banana.

4. By 60 miles, the only thing you want to eat is a white bread sandwich with Marmite.

5. That cycle race photos really can be AS BAD as running ones. Don’t blow out a hard breath when passing a photographer. You look like a horse curling back its lips.


Applause for…

Incredible organisation that made everything, from picking up the race pack to the goodie bag at the end seamless

Brilliant visual outline of the route with the gradient displayed which you could sign your name to at the Expo

Good, chunky medal

Boris Johnson. Love or loathe him and his politics, he got out there on the bike seat and did it too.





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Girls on Bikes – RideIt Events

April 29, 2013 at 3:59
Posted by Rachael Woolston

Do it for the challenge…or the cake stops

Love biking but find it hard to organise your own routes? Or do you want to enter a mountain biking or cyclo-sportive events that is competitive without it being the cycling equivalent of Black Swan?

Step in Evans Cycles who have a range of mountain bike and road bike events across the UK this summer, for every level, from beginners to women who fancy pushing themselves that little bit harder.

If you fall into the latter category, then try the King of the Downs,  a 54 or 115mile route which covers the Surrey hills, North Downs, Ashdown Forest and Kent although with 9,000 feet of climbs on the full route make sure you’ve done  your training.

With the soaring cost of cycling events nowadays, EvansCycles also offer great value events. The King (should that not be queen?) of the Downs costs just £27, and every entrant receives a free pre-ride breakfast, a cooked meal on return, plus feed stations stocked with sweets, bananas and cake.

Plus, they even have mechanics and a ‘sweep up’ wagon for anyone lagging or in trouble.

Come on girls, channel your inner Pendelton and take on the men on the climbs – and challenge that ‘King’ title!

For more information about this event, along with mountain bike and beginners cycle routes visit


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