The image of sportives portrayed in the cycling media is of men attacking hills in packs, grim-faced with calves and arms looking like steel cables.
But the Wooler Wheel is bucking the trend. In last October’s Wooler Wheel, the sportive consisted of rides over 50km and 100km, and half the riders in the 50km were women.
A similar number of women also took part in the longer route, but with three times as many total entries, they made up only 16 per cent of the riders taking part.
Beth Mills of Wooler Cycle Hub said: “After the event they commented about the low levels of traffic; the great atmosphere and camaraderie among the riders, and the lack of pressure to perform – if they wanted to go for it they could, or if they preferred, they could take it steadily and enjoy the wonderful vistas around the routes.
“The reassuring presence of the mechanical backup provided by Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative was also welcomed, but more than anything they raved about the flapjacks at the feed stations, baked locally from locally grown and milled oats, and laced with heather honey produced locally.”
With the next Wooler Wheel event taking place on October 4, it is another opportunity for the female cyclists of the north east and further afield to tackle the roads of the region.
Beth added: “We want more women to participate, and our hope is that women who have taken the brave step to do their first 50km, perhaps with a group of girlfriends or a family group, will do another next time around and as their confidence and capabilities build up eventually a proportion of them will tackle the 100km or longer distances.
“The image of sportives is that they are dominated by aggressive men with thighs like tightly wound braids of ships’ ropes, so it is little wonder that many women feel reluctant to participate or make the transition from leisure cycling to the more challenging sportives.
“But, hopefully what we are doing here in north Northumberland with the Wooler Wheel will introduce more female cyclists to sportives, and keep them coming back for more.
“Of course, guys with amazing thighs are welcome too!”