A blog written by Feodora Rayner, Funding Officer, Velociposse.
Velociposse is a women’s cycling club based in London. The group ride, race and hold skills sessions. Their aim is to get more women into cycling, with inspiration and support.
Many women find as they get more interested in cycling that traditional cycling clubs don’t cater to their needs or feel too daunting to join. Some mainstream clubs insist you are a certain speed or fitness level before you can go on a “beginners” ride, which can be hard to judge until you’ve been on the ride! We don’t do that, we always aim to make our club accessible and welcome to join, whatever your level, and so we have members who race internationally and members who have only been riding for a few months.
We started as a track team, we are now a club with 40 members riding all kinds of bikes - road, track, gravel, MTB, BMX at various speeds and distances. We welcome anyone who wants to enjoy riding a bike - whatever their experience level - and provide encouragement and support to push themselves and try new things. Our motto is “Riding on our own terms,” whether that’s racing, training rides or exploring the Essex lanes whilst having a chat. For us, racing isn’t about winning, but about riding at your limit, testing your skills and tactics, and the massive endorphin rush (maybe also the race day photos!).
Unlike most clubs, whose main activities are a weekly “club run,” or morning laps if you’re in London, we place a lot of focus on our slow speed skills sessions. This may not seem obvious as you wouldn’t think of racing as being slow but learning how to confidently handle your bike forms the building blocks for smashing it at a race! Thanks to TFL funded grant, we have been able to train some of our members to become Level 2 British cycling coaches which means we can hold these skills sessions weekly without putting too much pressure on volunteers to coach every week.
Slow skills give an opportunity to talk to other members of different ability and experience levels. It’s a safe and supportive atmosphere where it’s not about being the strongest, just about self-improvement. Learning these fundamentals will make you safer and more confident in any race or event.
We normally run this over summer but the COVID-19 lockdown happened just as we were about to restart. It was hard to spend the spring inside, watching the trees turn green and the weather get warmer. We kept going with Zoom training sessions (weights, rollers and yoga) and socials - a weekly pub quiz including the famous Cat round and Pizza round!
Yes, we want to resume training, but we have to make it as accessible as possible for those who may not feel comfortable gathering in groups yet. The club and coaches have (always had) an obligation to be careful with any element of risk in official sessions, and we've never exactly done things the same way as all the bike bros out there anyway. If we’re running a session, we’re setting a high standard for safety. Does this mean we won't be doing bunch skills yet? Yes. Are we upset about it? No. It's only bike riding. We’d rather encourage more women on to bikes than worry about a few people not being able to go fast in a bunch for a few months.
We’re offering an expanded set of skills sessions over the summer. Some sessions are aimed at beginners, so you know that you can turn up on any bike, in your jeans and trainers and you’ll be fine. Others are for people who have more experience riding - lycra not compulsory, but you’ll need to be able to clip in!
By adapting the sessions to be COVID safe with strict social distancing and a focus on bike handling rather than bunch riding, we can be sure that we are still teaching vital skills and looking after the health of our more vulnerable members and their households. After months of riding alone, on Zwift or with our households, the sessions have been really popular. We hope to welcome many of the women who have taken up cycling during lockdown - if that’s you, please do come along!