89-year-old Sylvia Briercliffe tells women “Get on your bike!”
Sylvia Briercliffe, who was recognised in Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling earlier this year, joined Cycling UK members and trustees, partners and supporters to deliver a fun cycling event around the Wirral Peninsula at the beginning of August.
The Wirral Celebration Ride offered three different ride distances exclusively for women as part of the Women’s Festival of Cycling; it was well attended by a diverse group of all ages, background and abilities.
The event gave many of the women an opportunity to challenge themselves in different ways, by riding longer distances as part of a new group or in a new area. None more so than Sylvia, who at the age of 89, was the most senior participant and successfully completed the 15-mile ride.
Look at me – I’m 89 years old! If I can do it, so can you – all you need to do is just get on your bike
Sylvia Briercliffe, one of Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling
Sylvia commented: “It was a great experience. I was still buzzing from the trip to London to collect my 100 Women in Cycling certificate, and still surprised that I wasn't just a little old woman shopping on her bike, but the oldest of 100 cyclists trying to inspire others.
“All I can say to other women out there thinking of cycling but not being sure is, ‘Look at me – I’m 89 years old! If I can do it, so can you – all you need to do is just get on your bike!’
“When I arrived there were three other cyclists, still waiting to start the ride. One lady was trying to inspire her daughter into her first long ride. I was persuaded to participate in the 15-mile ride.
“It was great, quite exciting compared with my usual solo journeys. A lovely wide seaside promenade with sea views all the way, and a comfort stop at Hoylake for refreshments.
“The day was a real success for women of all ages – a great crowd of us looking after our health and supporting each other.”
Cycling UK trustee Janet Atherton said: “I was lucky enough to break away from the event village for a while to ride with Sylvia Briercliffe. It is inspiring to see her still pedalling and encouraging others to continue to ride beyond retirement.
“The Wirral Celebration Rides are becoming a firm fixture in the Wirral cycling calendar and it has been great to be part of Wirral Council’s Summer of Cycling, as they aim to create a long-lasting legacy following the Tour Series and forthcoming Tour of Britain.”
As many as 22 female ride leaders from a variety of local cycling groups, including Wirral Bicycle Belles, Wirral Cycling Group, Chester Fabulous Ladies and Pensby Runners on Bikes, came together under the banner of Cycling UK’s Women’s Festival of Cycling to guide women of all abilities along Wirral’s coastal trails.
It was lovely to see happy smiley faces as each group crossed the finish line
Chris Alston, Cycling UK training manager
Chris Alston, Cycling UK’s training manager, said: “One of the things that makes these rides special is the fantastic group of female leaders who give up their day to make sure everyone has a safe, fun day while celebrating everything that is great about women getting out on their bikes.
“It was lovely to see happy smiley faces as each group crossed the finish line. It was clear that everyone had fun. Many of the participants have already told me they are looking forward to next year.”
Six groups took part in a 35-mile ride around the Wirral Circular Trail, and four groups cycled 15 miles from New Brighton to Hoylake and back. Those who initially registered for the 5-mile ride opted to complete the longer distances, a fantastic achievement for those who are just starting out or returning to cycling.
A number of women said they had never taken part in an organised cycling event before. Some had never picked up the courage to ride on the road.
It was such a great friendly and welcoming event and you didn’t have to be a pro or regular cyclist to join in
Judy Fairbairn, 35-mile ride participant
Judy Fairbairn, a 35-mile participant, said: “It was such a great friendly and welcoming event and you didn’t have to be a pro or regular cyclist to join in.
“It was more about women getting together on their bikes to have fun and cycle at a pace and speed that was right for each person.
“There was great camaraderie and encouragement from everybody. It was great to see ladies of all ages, sizes and fitness levels coming together on bikes to help support health and wellbeing while enjoying our beautiful Wirral coastline.”
Congratulations to our lucky prize winners at the event:
- Alison Lacey and Pamela Howard who both won one year Cycling UK membership;
- Sylvia Briercliffe, Grainne Donnelly, Helen Measures, Helen-Louise Smith, Rebecca Mia and Victoria Harford who all won Cycling UK jerseys;
- Tracy Lowe who won Moon Bike lights courtesy of Birkenhead Cycles;
- Shelagh Farral, Sinead Adams and Erika Lomas, each winning a Hygge headband;
- Jan Brown who won a toiletry set courtesy of Tesco, Bidston Moss.
Finally a huge thank you to all the local business for donating prizes, to Tesco and Morrisons who provided refreshments and Merseyside Police who worked tirelessly to security mark more than 60 bikes with Bike Register kits.
Cycling UK really appreciates your support.