Women’s Cycling Stories – An evening of Tales in the Saddle

cyclingstories03-17(3)web.JPGCycling stories that’ll take you for a ride…

Lady Pedal are delighted to be hosting an evening of inspirational talks and stories from a number of women who have had a wide range of cycling experiences, as part of our program of events for Manchester’s International Women’s Festival 2017, kindly funded by Women On Wheels.

From a diverse array of backgrounds, we’ll have an interesting panel of speakers, both from Manchester and further afield, to engage and inspire before we open the stage to members of the public to share their own thoughts on everything cycling from mayhem and mishaps, to life changing experiences.

Date: Tuesday 7th March, 6pm
Venue: Sandbar
Cost: FREE! – but please register via the link below as capacity will be limited!

These exceptional 4 women will be sharing their stories, final timings and line-up:
6.10pm – Glynis Francis: “Cycling to Equality – the chain that set women free.”
6.35pm – Kathy West: “Making cycling safe and fun”
7.00pm BREAK
7.15pm – Liz Leakey: “10 lessons I learned on the road”
7.40pm – Mary Clark: “Woman in the workshop – the story of the reluctant mechanic.”
8.05pm BREAK
8.20 Open mic! – share YOUR cycling story + discussion
If that wasn’t exciting enought, early arrivals will get a free slice of the renowned Sandbar pizza!

Confidence building and social ride – TOMORROW

Sunday 19th February – next Lady Pedal social ride!

A chilled circular route for all levels and abilities.
We’re also doing a special morning session for anyone who would like to build their confidence cycling on roads!

Sunday 19th February 2017
MEET: Tea Hive in Alexandra Park

11am – Confidence building session
12 noon – Lunch (picnic or TeaHive)
1pm – Social ride
LEVEL: For everyone
DURATION: ~2 hrs

ROUTE: Salford circular route beginning and ending at the park, sticking mainly to cycle paths and quiet routes where possible.

We will have a trained bikeability ride leader and experienced cyclists on hand to coach uncertain cyclists through the basic theory of road cycling in the cafe.
You’ll get a chance to try this out in the park or local roads before lunch then we strongly encourage anyone who comes for the morning to join a group of more experienced riders in exercising their new confidence after lunch!

(please let us know in advance of you intend to borrow a bike)

We will have tools on hand for basic adjustments, puncture repair and tyre pumping so don’t let your bike hold you back, or if you don’t have a bike at all, we can lend you one! Courtesy of Women on Wheels. 🙂

Lady Pedal Training and News

We have been busy beavering away behind the scenes and we’re very excited to announce that we’ve been awarded funding from our wonderful supporters at Cycling UK! So expect to see more workshops, rides and training from us!

In addition to this we will be working in close collaboration with Women on Wheels, TFGM and Manchester City Council to deliver a number of events for International Women’s Day throughout the month of March – keep an eye out for a full calendar of events coming soon!


The maintenance training session at Rapha last month proved to be hugely popular, although space was limited! Pending feedback and interest we are well prepared to put on another session in future – Let us know if you would be interested!

Many thanks to the Rapha for the space, TFGM for helping to organise and fund, and especially to Revolve mechanics for delivering the training!

In other mechanics news – one of our Lady Pedallers is currently being trained up by BikeRight!, so next month we’ll have our very own qualified Lady Pedal mechanic!

We’re aiming to hold some more training opportunities in April.
In the meantime, there are still plenty of opportunities to learn with TFGM , as well as the free women’s bike workshop 6-8pm every last Thursday of the month at Cycle Republic in the city centre. Call 01612360216 or pop in store for more information or to book your place.


Lady Pedal Maintenance Training

If you have not registered and received confirmation you will not be able to participate due to limited facilities. 

This Sunday 15th January, Lady Pedal is offering a free, full day, intermediate bike maintenance course run by a qualified instructor in collaboration with TFGM. Open to Lady Pedallers and affiliates. Designed for those with a pre-existing interest in cycling/bikes who are able to carry out basic procedures such as puncture repairs.

The course content will be flexible and may cover

  • Brake adjustment. Inspection/fitting inner and outer cables – lubricating
  • Gear adjustment/indexing. How a derailleur works. Inspection/fitting of cables – lubricating
  • Chains – Lubrication/Inspection/ break and re-join
  • Adjusting hub bearings
  • Bottom bracket and headset inspection/adjustment
  • Recommendations for routine servicing
  • How to identify an out of true wheel
  • Q+As

Tools / bike stands will be provided. Please bring your own bike to work on (in specific cases a bike could be provided – please message us to arrange).

Tea and coffee will be available but lunch is not provided
Hosted by Rapha Cycle Club in Manchester city centre.

Once booked, if you are subsequently unable attend the course you must cancel your booking and/or inform TfGM as soon as possible.
Please note these courses are only open to adults (16+)

Further information about the course can be requested from cycling@tfgm.com or ladypedalmcr@gmail.com

Lady Pedal social cycle!


Last Sunday 11th December, Lady Pedal had their first social ride following the successful launch event in September. Assembling in Alexandra Park, Manchester with a perfect crisp climate for a bike ride, the group grabbed coffees at the Tea Hive before pedalling off to the destination. Lady Pedal’s front ride leader, Hannah directed us  down quiet roads through Chorlton and Stretford towards the Bridgewater Canal where it was a straight trail to Altrincham (see our route here). The pace was relaxed, and the group maintained a strong formation throughout with a brief stop to de-layer in the mild winter weather! Poland was bringing up the rear to ensure we all stayed together to arrive at the football club in good time.



Our hungry riders were greeted by Tash and James, of Nicely Kitchen, the lovely  hosts of the Vegan Christmas Market who kindly fed us some well-deserved delicious mince pies as a reward for using sustainable transport! The group scouted out all the yummy vegan goodies and sat down to enjoy the hot food accompanied by some warming mulled wine. The Lady Pedallers then divided, one group heading back to Manchester and another heading to the Altrincham Market piazza for  more Christmas gifts and festive snacks before the ride home.


A massive congratulations to the organisers, Nicely Kitchen on putting on their first event! It was a great success and was amazingly busy! Huge thanks for the mince pies and the 10% discount vouchers which we were given as we left. Thanks also to all the riders for coming along and ride leaders for their help and support, a lovely time was had by all and the cycle ran without a hitch! We will be hosting more events, workshops and rides in the New Year, so keep a look out on social media and our website.


To everyone from Lady Pedal, have a very Merry Christmas and pedalling good year!

Write-up: Poland and Hannah Milton
Photos: Poland

*TODAY* Cycle Social – Altrincham Specialist Xmas Market

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED! And it’s due to stay dry – look forward to seeing you all soon!

It’s been a while since we all got together for a bike ride. So we’re going on a gastronomic discovery ride down the Bridgewater canal to Altrincham’s Vegan and Artisan Christmas Market, with Nicely Kitchen to try some tasty food and browse for gifts!37

We’ll be meeting outside the Tea Hive in Alexandra Park at 10.30 for set off by 11.
All welcome! The route is mainly the canal path and we have a trained leader in our team for those who worry about busy roads.

Entry to the market is £3 but all Lady Pedal Cyclists get a FREE MINCE PIE and 10% DISCOUNT VOUCHER for the soon-to-be-launched online shop, courtesy of the wonderful people at Nicely Kitchen – THANKS!!

If you don’t fancy that, feel free to split off on your own adventure when we get there, just make sure you let us know.

Come prepared for the weather!


Women’s Ultra Distance At Rapha


All of us here at Lady Pedal love to ride; some further than others, some faster than others. Last week we went to hear from the women who like to do both in the form of “ultra-distance racing” – they ride hard.

Ultra-distance racing

The event was put together by The Adventure Syndicate, a group of extraordinary female cyclists who are championing their achievements in order to inspire other women to challenge themselves and reach their full potential.

The panel of four was chaired by Emily Chappell, ex-courier, international tourer and intercontinental racer. By her side were 3 accomplished women with different, but parallel backgrounds:
Kajsa Tylen – after first getting into cycling 4 years ago whilst doing triathlons, she’s currently spending a year of daily rides to set a new Guinness World Record for the furthest distance cycled in a year by a woman – 28,000 miles, and strengthen her “weakest” discipline.
Shu Pillinger – serial ultra-competitor, Shu has competed in several races as well as a winning a double ironman distance triathlon and recently became the first British woman ever to have completed the Race Across America.
Rebecca Harrison – a keen beginner in the world of ultra-distance, she successfully completed the Transcontinental this year. This won’t be the last we hear of her.

Push yourself beyond your limits

How do you decide to take on a challenge? Do you work your way up to it, steadily increasing the difficulty level incrementally? Or is it best to throw yourself in at the deep end? There’s no right or wrong way to go about it.

Shu and Emily discussed the increased pressure that can come from knowing your capacity – once you’ve reached a certain level, there’s no backing down. Being super prepared for an event is the best way to avoid injury and increase your chances of finishing but it may decrease the excitement. Becky on the other hand, having decided to participate in the Transcontinental with no prior experience, was excited to push herself to her limits and see how far she could get.  Perhaps the real challenge can be found in taking on the unknown.

Some might say the race is about completing a challenge, but the most memorable moments often emerge from the unexpected encounters along the way. All our ladies had heart-warming stories to share of strangers’ kindness, ranging from roadside food and drink, to accommodation, to pay-it-forward style physiotherapy on the fly!

Dot watchers

One of the aspects of long distance racing that most might not have previously considered is the effect of the online tracking system. Whether it’s reassuring to know that people are always watching out for you or worrying that your location is continuously broadcast to anyone who might care to look, these trackers can lead to some unexpected consequences.

Emily was accosted by a German journalist who kept up long enough to conduct a brief interview, despite the 15% gradient, before being left behind. An unusual situation, but she was quick to highlight the positives – “If I can cycle this and have a conversation at the same time, I must be doing ok!”. Kajsa once received concerned messages from a fellow cyclist after he spotted her making an early stop, only to find she’d dropped in on a friend for tea and Shu’s cycling team quickly had to find and remove her tracking device after fans noticed she’d ended up in A&E before her family had been alerted. But location tracking can have its saving grace – when Emily was taken ill on the Transcontinental race, it was one of her trackers in Slovenia that responded to her tweet, appearing in the hospital waiting room to take her back to a bed and clean sheets.

Highs, lows, and transitioning between them

Ultra-distance races take an immense toll on both body and mind and each rider will have different reactions and responses to the strain.

Shu elaborated on the mental aspect of cycling – riding for her is about learning to accept your mistakes, disciplining yourself learning to trust that lows are temporary and more often than not sticking with it will pay off in the end. You quickly learn from your mistakes; how to recognise negative thought patterns, and how to turn them around.

There are some notable differences when riding with a partner – Becky trained alone but cycled across Europe with her boyfriend, “He’s very tolerant” she commented. Everyone has their own rhythms and a strong relationship is required to handle the delays and delirium resulting from sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Crewed races are rather more cut-throat- you’ll either be shouted down or abandoned.

When upset and racing alone, Emily has a tendency to pent it up and let it ferment, whereas Kajsa’s advice was simply to sit down and have a good cry – “I thoroughly recommend crying, it’s very therapeutic”.

One of the important points to note is that everyone’s body will respond differently to this kind of intense activity, and it’s impossible to know what might start to bother you after 300 miles of cycling. Make sure to take plenty of “Vitamin I” – otherwise known as ibuprofen. Don’t be put off though, not everyone gets pain, and there are a number of potential causes; bike, setup, diet, shorts, altitude, sleep.

Your mind may play tricks on you – seemingly unbearable pain on day 3 might suddenly disappear, day 11 might seem euphoric. We psychologically program ourselves to go for as long as we have programmed, hit the target, then no more. But don’t let short term highs and lows get you down it. Certainly not until you’ve done one of two things: eat, or sleep.

Beyond tired…

When a race pushes your body and mind to extremes, strange things may start to happen. Shu let us in on her experiences during the RAA and the training leading up to it.

Shu has a tendency to cycle without stopping and survives on 2hrs sleep per night. Around Day 3, the paranoia kicks in, and once, on a training route in Ireland, she was cycling through a dark forest one night only to feel she was not alone… She described terrifying goblins, clawing at her from the trees. She was so affected that she began goblin hunting on subsequent night rides, to try and overcome the barrier but never came across them. Then in America, they were back, this time cheering her on!

All our ladies have some experience of sleeping rough, and never felt threatened. Emily concluded that whilst she preferred sleeping outside, she probably got more efficient rest in a hotel and perhaps her racing would benefit from a more luxurious race strategy in future.

How tech is training?

There are many methods to train for a long ride, heartrate monitors, GPS and specially designed programs. Becky’s training is low tech and simple – “I just ride!” whereas Shu’s training depends on the end goal and the type of race, based heavily on advice from veterans. Kajsa uses a trial and error approach to training to find her own style and has discovered that her lows are more time of day specific than point of ride specific.

Failure? Get over it

The stories shared by Shu, Emily, Kajsa and Becky have shown failure to be an overwhelmingly positive experience in the long run. Emily and Shu used failed race attempts as motivation to go back and finish the job. If at first you don’t succeed, get up and do it again.

Another response to failure is to move the goalposts. When Emily set off to ride around the world, after two years it stopped being the journey she wanted it to be and realising that she was no longer enjoying the trip she flew home after reaching Japan, to rebuild the connections she felt she was losing through being away. She was ready to stop and had achieved what she needed to. Kajsa spoke to us about how she was comfortable with changing her milestones within the challenge to keep things achievable. At the end of the day, they’re your goalposts, do what you want. Those around you will see only success.

In summary it was a hugely successful event, more than filling the room, even on a rainy Tuesday evening! Many thanks to The Adventure Syndicate for putting together the event and to Rapha for hosting and giving a generous on-the-day in-store discount.

For anyone interested in participating in the Transcontinental Race 2017, make sure to contact Rapha who have generously offered to sponsor a team with racing clothing! Ask in store for details.


Photos: Patrycja Marczewska
Write-up: Hannah Milton