Victoria Pendleton launches Cycletta Series of all women challenge rides

Plus British cycling's golden girl expects to get off her bike after London 2012

by Tony Farrelly   February 23, 2011  

Fresh from her exploits on the Manchester track at the weekend Victoria Pendleton was in London on Monday to launch the new Cycletta series, (well, there's two), of women only mass participation rides this summer she also announced that she expected her compeitive cycling career to end with next summer's Olympic Games.

Speaking at the launch Pendleton said:

“Cycling has been my passion since I was a child.  Through the Cycletta series I want to inspire women to join me and cycle; as a hobby, a sport, a way to get fit and healthy.  Whatever the reasoning, cycling can improve your life. I hope Cycletta will bring women together as they take on their own cycling challenge."

She also told the Daily Telegraph that she didn't expect her competitive career to last much beyond the 2012 Olympic Games.

"I've been racing from a hobby level to an elite level from when I was nine [years-old]. It's been a long career and physically I know that I'm getting more and more injuries. It's a warning sign that there's not that much more to come," she told the paper.

Indelicate as it might be to discuss a lady's age Victoria Pendleton will be 31 by the time of next year's London Games so it is not in the least unexpected that she is considering ending her career on what will hopefully be a high note there. In the meantime she's got Cycletta to look forward to.

The series kicks off with Cycletta North on 26th June at Trafford Park in Cheshire, followed on 11th September by Cycletta South at Whipsnade in Bedfordshire, the Cycletta rides are one of a number of women only events being staged this year the difference here is that they will be closed road challenge events and that they are aimed female cyclists of all abilities from complete beginners, commuter and leisure cyclists right up to regularl/sporty cyclists.

All of them will get to tackle a 40Km closed road loop "a distance specifically designed to providea fitness challenge, while remaining achievable and accessible", say the organisers. Details of the exact routes will be announced when all the road closure details have been confirmed with local councils and police, but the organisers promise that both will be over undulating courses through local villages – Cycletta South will take riders through Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Getting women on to bikes seems to be very much a cause of the moment, Cycletta is supported by British Cycling and Sky, as reported last month the former received £1m from Sport England earlier this year to develop The National Women's Cycling Network tasked with training 1,000 female "cycling champions" to lead women only group rides, while Davina McCall who put in an impressive performance in last year's Sports Relief Bike Ride from John O'Groats to Land's End is fronting the 100Km Davina's Diva 100 charity ride for Action Medical Research later this year.

The people behind Cycletta are certainly thinking big, aiming to recruit thousands of female cyclists to their rides at £45 a head (you can also chose to ride for the event's charity partner MacMillan Cancer Support) and with a cast of celebrity ambassadors including amongst others Miranda Hart and Claire Balding and Jill Douglas, as well as Victoria Pendleton.

To find out more about the event visit the Cycletta website, as mentioned the entry fee is £45 and that includes mechanical support, feed station, event timing, changing marquees, a free copy of Grazia and Cycling Active magaines, monthly nutritional and cycling fashion support (who couldn't do with some of that), discounts from Evans Cycles and free all day access to the zoo at Whipsnade and the park at Tatton.

Not everything is free though including the parking at Whipsnade and the Helmet Hair Remedy Centre at both.


16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

No one else want to comment for fear of being called sexist or perhaps TOO politically correct? Anyway, I just want to say I've looked at the photos and I could ride faster than any of them. Particularly the fat one and the broad on the bike Smug

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 3:44


So what about people who quite like the idea of a supervised gentle ride around Whipsnade but have a penis? I can understand racing being segregated for practical reasons, but shouldn't leisure rides be open to all? Whites-only rides next?

posted by a.jumper [830 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 9:14

1 Like

I'd just like to make it clear that I fully support these women-only rides. As I've written elsewhere on anything that encourages new riders to get out is a good thing. One woman is going to ride with her elderly mother for the first time. I can't see the two of them doing that together on a sportive. Can you?

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 9:45

1 Like

Couldn't agree more with simonmb - this really is an unnecessarily male dominated past time despite the obvious female prowess at the highest sporting level. Getting more women onto bikes both for utility and leisure purposes is a very difficult challenge and rides like this are sure to have positive impacts. I take it you all object to female only gyms too?! In a country where snooker and darts isn't even a mixed affair, I don't think there's really much to moan about here is there?

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [320 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 12:46

1 Like

Yep, can't be a bad thing. If these rides are a spectacular flop it will perhaps demonstrate that the existing format of vigourously macho pretend-racing on sportives caters adequately for women.

posted by BigDummy [314 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 13:16

1 Like

I think 'women' only rides are a good thing, possibly because I've got the right bits to qualify but surely anything that encourages half the population to get out on bikes can only be a good thing?

The price however is a huge disincentive... Road is a fairly new to me but if Gorrick /Merida can provide upto 4hrs racing (off-road), free parking, loos & recovery drink on the finish line for £20 surely something as well sponsored, high profile can do a little better on the price front?

Essentials like parking may come under 'additional charge'. Massage, lovely oh look that's an 'additional' too.

Lovely as it sounds I've been priced out before I even think of the logistics / costs of getting to the start line.

posted by rc [5 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 15:58

1 Like

45 quid a head? No wonder women are not taking up cycling ..

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 19:09


£45? What he said.. The AMR rides are £25 entry if i remember right. (Though there are a lot of men in lycra to contend with).

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [600 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 19:22


I wish her every success, getting women involved in my club is like riding with punctures in both wheels...

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 19:34


Imagine if it was suggested that a series of Men Only rides be staged?

posted by RouleurTwo [21 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 20:40


Sexual politics aside.
Anything with Vicky Pendleton pics, I'm interested.
She's a lovely looking gal.

posted by vinnn [40 posts]
23rd February 2011 - 21:39



RouleurTwo wrote:
Imagine if it was suggested that a series of Men Only rides be staged?

This 'series' comprises TWO rides. Why all the belly-aching?

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
24th February 2011 - 4:39


Think you've missed the point of Rouleur's comment. Men Only rides would likely be extremely popular spectating events for a lot of men but not go down well with wimmin (unless they happened to be into the ladies, of course).

"...this really is an unnecessarily male dominated past time despite the obvious female prowess at the highest sporting level". Got to point out to you that female prowess at the highest sporting level is against other females. And unnecessarily male dominated? It's basically a sport and pastime that requires aggression, assertion and risk taking, which is what men generally do better. But if women want to cycle, there's nothing stopping them, they don't have to cycle with men if they don't want to. My mother is in her mid 70s, has had both knees replaced and still rides. Without a helmet. It's all about attitude and taking responsibility really.

On the Cycletta itself, excellent initiative (and closed roads, the lucky ladies!) though 45 quid is disgusting. Either a nominal fee with under 16s free or Sky should cough up for them.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
24th February 2011 - 14:57

1 Like

Ohhhhh! Drooling

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
24th February 2011 - 15:23

1 Like

Anything that gets more people out on a bike has to be good in the long run. I think everyone should be required to ride a bike on a busy road as part of the driving test; so they know what it feels like when someone blasted past with inches to spare.

And yes, lady drivers are some of the worst culprits in my experience I'm sad to say. So getting them to go out on a bike is a really good idea.

You've got to watch out for the old fart flat cappers on Sunday afternoons, they're gormless buggers as well! Wink


Simon Walker's picture

posted by Simon Walker [48 posts]
24th February 2011 - 17:44

1 Like

I think the women-only events are a great idea. Look at the success of the Race for Life 5K events and the numbers of women that got out running? It got me out running, and after that I got into biking through a women-only group. Once I was fitter and more confident I was happy to ride in a mixed club also, but I really don't think I'd have got into cycling at all if my only option had been the local mixed club because they do tend to ride harder and faster than I could have coped with at first -- always waiting for the last person to catch up isn't the same as a gentle ride that makes beginners feel welcome.

Still, £45 is bit steep. Can I forfeit the free copy of Grazia for a £3 discount?

posted by emla [4 posts]
25th February 2011 - 21:47