Yesterday four fairly intrepid Edinburgh Belles braved the January rain with me to launch the start of Belles on Bikes across Scotland.
Despite the dreich (that means cold, damp and miserable for the English speakers) conditions the ladies kept smiling, particularly as we rolled along Portobello Promenade into the Beach House for tea, cake and defrosting…
Belles on Bikes developed from a Bike Club Scotland project initiated by Victoria Leiper and Amy Hickman, our Bike Club Development workers back in 2011, to get women cycling in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Since then both workers have moved onto other roles but in her ‘spare time’ Victoria has developed the Glasgow Belles on Bikes group  into a regular leisure cycling club with other 400 active participants. The group is organised through social media site ‘Meet Up ’ and use a grading system for their regular rides so that ladies know what sort of ride they are signing up for. With a focus on inclusive leisure rides with plenty of cake stops, the Glasgow Belles are enabling hundred of women in Glasgow to get cycling.
During 2014 CTC hopes to establish Belles on Bikes group across Scotland. Using their practical experience, the Glasgow Belles are helping to write a ‘how to’ guide to setting up a Belles on Bikes group. The guide will be available in the spring and cover everything from group management to using social media.
A small grant from Cycling Scotland has provided us with funding for CTC affiliate insurance, Cycle Ride Leader training, Meet Up pages, Fix Your Own Bike nights and mentoring from the Glasgow Belles. In time we also hope to have a pool of ‘borrow bikes’ that can be used by ladies with no bike of their own and baby seats and trailers so families can try before they buy.
What we need now are volunteers to get groups started - could this be you? You don’t need to be anything other than a bicycle user; we can provide training and support for pretty much everything else. Whatever your cycling style - road, MTB, track, touring, leisure or family rides - we’d be delighted to help you get other women cycling in Scotland.