LADIES of all ages and sporting abilities had a fabulous day out at Cycletta, the first ever women-only cycling event on Sunday.
Hundreds of women pedalled their way round the 40km course, which went from Whipsnade Zoo through beautiful Bedfordshire countryside, over several steep hills and back to the Zoo.
The atmosphere at the event was brilliant, everyone was very excited if a litle nervous but there was a friendly, relaxed vibe with no competitiveness - perhaps due to the distinct lack of testosterone.
Sarah Blackburn, who won a free place in Cycletta in the Herald & Post competition, said: “I loved the ride, loved the countryside and even, looking back, I enjoyed some of the hills - the downhill bits! I thought the marshalls were great, it was lovely to see all the ladies out in force and all the different abilities too. I loved seeing the pros, they looked so fab. It was a great day, well organised and a definite for me next year.”
The camaraderie among the participants is what really made the day, and helped everyone to make it round the course.
From the super sporty to the slightly slower, everyone was supported by Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton and the Cycletta team, and the all important ‘feeding stations’ en route where we seized upon sweets, biscuits and a strange looking ‘energy gel’ to keep our spirits up.
Sylvia Castleman said: “I felt nervous at the start but once I got going I felt relaxed and found it all quite enjoyable even with the occasional strong winds and oncoming inclines, but these did not deter me. Unlike Bison Hill, which was far too much of a challenge and I definitely walked up! Very much appreciated the motorcycle marshals guiding and keeping us safe on our journey. I loved the last ride to the finish and I feel very excited to have achieved my personal challenge and hope to continue my training for next year’s event.”
Despite some ominous black clouds, the rain held off until the last lady had made it over the finish line.
Sally-Anne Stewart, who works at the Gazette’s sister newspaper, the Herald & Post, who took part in the event along with video reporter Natalee Hazelwood and reporter Connie Primmer, said: “There was a really great atmosphere on the day and even though I was quite nervous I was reasured that there were lots of people who all different abilities. and I impressed myself with my two and a half hour finish time.
“I will definitely do it again next year. I thought the whole event was really well organised and the route was very well chosen and took us through beautiful countryside, although the hills weren’t all that welcome!”
Mother of two, Ruchita Sarvaiya, said: “We did it! It was so fantastic I didn’t notice the pain until the next day. My brother and sister-in-law drove all the way from Swindon to surprise me at the finish line and it was the best feeling ever to have done the ride. The people at Cycletta were brilliant, as was the Macmillan team on our way up Bison Hill. I walked part of the way up, but as I was telling another rider on the way, no shame there! We should be really proud to have done it!”