British Cycling has teamed up with the Football Association (FA) in an initiative called Kick Start Your Ride that will see Breeze guided rides taking place ahead of several forthcoming international and major domestic matches – with free admission to the game afterwards.
The initiative, aimed at getting more women involved in both sports, was launched yesterday at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, where Great Britain track sprinters Jess Varnish and Vicky Williamson were joined by England international footballers Gemma Bonner and Fara Williams.
The first match to feature a Breeze ride will be the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 qualifier against Montenegro, which takes place on 5 April at the Amex Community Stadium in Brighton.
There will also be a ride to the FA Women’s Cup Final on 1 June at stadiummk, in Milton Keynes. Details of other matches that will tie in with Breeze rides, including World Cup qualifiers and FA Women’s Super League fixtures, are yet to be confirmed.
Varnish, who partnered Victoria Pendleton in the team sprint at London 2012 but finished out of the medals, said: “It’s easy to get into a routine of getting in the car to drive to events like football matches.
“However, we want to see more women try something different by getting on a bike to ride to the games.
"Breeze rides are led rides with other women and so they are the ideal way to build confidence and are a great way of socialising.”
Williams, who plays her club football for Liverpool Ladies, added: “I’ve always enjoyed cycling since I was young, so I’m really pleased to see an initiative like this being launched around women’s football.
"We see lots of families at England and WSL games so it’d be great if some of them can travel down on bikes together to the Montenegro game in Brighton next weekend.”
Natalie Justice, women’s network project manager at British Cycling, explained the thinking behind the initiative.
“This is about two sports coming together to inspire women to try something new,” she said.
"The opportunity to go on a group bike ride with friends, mums, daughters with the prize of getting to watch some exciting football at the end of it has all the ingredients of a fun day out and we hope to see hundreds of women getting involved over the coming season.”
The FA’s director of the national game and women’s football, Kelly Simmons, added: “This unique partnership shows the benefits that two National Governing Bodies can bring when working together for one common aim – getting more women active.
“Participation levels are crucial for all sporting bodies and we’re delighted to work with British Cycling to get more women into both football and cycling.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.