Wyre Forest CRC are extremely keen to promote and grow women’s cycling and racing. This approach is also supported by British Cycling who want to change the culture of cycling and get one million more women on bikes by 2020.
Hi – I’m Sue O’Shaughnessy and I’d like to tell you a bit about myself and the Wyre Forest CRC women’s racing team.
Although I have always enjoyed cycling, I didn’t get into it fully until I bought my first road bike in my early thirties. I progressed into time trialling and racing in 2015 after discovering my competitive streak and there are aspects of both that I love. I am trying to increase female participation in racing and time trialling, both within and outside of the Club. Everyone loves a social ride and I am not dismissing coffee and cake (I happen to love coffee and cake!) but I get a real buzz out of pushing myself to go further and faster and I want to help more women discover how much fun racing can be.
Time trialling is a fantastic place to start if you have never raced before. The courses tend to be less technical and, more importantly, you get to choose how fast you want to go and how hard you push yourself. Although it is still a competition, the focus is more on trying to beat your own previous best time. You don’t need a special bike to do time trialling – I use the same bike I commute to work on (having still not mastered aero bars!) and although my first TT was not particularly quick, over time I have got faster.
In addition to being on the WFCRC committee as Ladies Representative I am also involved in the Midlands Women’s Time Trial Series. The MWTTS was originally set up in 2007 and is still going strong today. There are prizes for all levels of competitors, including fastest novice, most improved senior and most improved veteran. This season we have three ladies from the Club in the Series: myself, Rachel Lamine and our young superstar Aimee Lane. It would be fantastic to get some more ladies involved. The Club is also hosting one of the MWTTS events in July, on a course that has not been used in the Series in recent years. This is a fantastic opportunity for both the Club and for the Series.
Racing is very different from time trialling. Race tactics and holding the wheel of the girl in front are things I am still getting the hang of, even though I have been racing for three years. However, it is a lot of fun and even when I finish outside of the points or even near the back I can always say that I have enjoyed and learnt something from the experience. Over time I have gone from being lapped every race to being able to keep up with some of the faster ladies at the front, but the real difference has been having team mates to race with. I have particularly enjoyed racing with my team mate Rachel Lamine over the last season and we recently took part in our first road race together. Although we both finished out of the top ten we worked together really well and will definitely be taking part in some more races together. The Club does great work in inspiring our younger female riders and it would be great to give them a team to continue to race with when they reach juniors and beyond.
The Stourport Summer Crit Series, which takes place on our home track, is a fantastic, friendly Series with (generally) small fields of racers. Most weeks there are around 10 ladies taking part, making this series ideal if you are just getting in to racing. The smaller fields are definitely less daunting, but you still get the full experience of racing and pick up the same skills that would apply in a bigger race. In fact, we are often joined by ladies who have never raced before and that is a great thing for women’s racing in general. The ladies’ races currently take place on alternate Tuesday evenings throughout the months of May, June and July.
If you have any questions or comments on women’s time trialling or racing or anything you would like me to pass on to the committee I would love to hear from you. Happy cycling!