How to run a women-friendly or women-only cycle ride

Cycling UK wants to help get more women get into cycling; our riders and cycling groups can inspire women to try cycling by hosting women-only or women-friendly rides. Christina Bengtson provides some top tips on how to run one

Whether you are an established cycling group or an informal group of friends planning to go out for a social ride, we’ve got some top tips to help make your ride more female friendly.

Women only or women-friendly

Should you put on a women only ride or a women-friendly ride that is open to all? This is really up to you and your group. If you have lots of women in your existing group, maybe try a women-only ride. If not, just make sure as many women as possible attend so that newcomers don’t feel outnumbered.

We know that female-oriented rides and events are extremely popular among female cyclists. They enjoy the camaraderie, the lack of pressure, the chance to discuss topics such as saddle sores, families and friendship, as much as the technical or physical challenges, as well as not being in the minority for a change.

Planning your ride

One of the most intimidating things for anyone when thinking about joining a group is not knowing what to expect. How fast will the group be riding? Will I be able to keep up? Will I be the only woman there? What happens if I get a puncture? All of these are perfectly natural anxieties and can be a barrier for many people making that first step.

1.    Plan your route

The idea is to support new and returning female cyclists to discover the joys of cycling and so your ride shouldn’t be all about distance or speed. Plan a route that is not too long and on roads and paths that will allow riders to chat, enjoy the scenery and not have to worry about anything too technical.

2.    The ride leader

If your ride is female friendly rather than exclusively women, your ride should be led by a woman. This will help new riders feel comfortable, after all they may have decided to join the group because it is female friendly.

3.    Introductions

One of the worst things that can happen to a person coming into any new group is that they arrive to find everyone standing around chatting in their established friendship groups. It makes newcomers feel excluded and anxious.

A great way to make people feel comfortable is to level the playing field. As soon as your riders arrive get them involved in an ice-breaker game. This will encourage everyone to get involved without people falling into conversations about previous rides, mutual friends or in-jokes that can leave new arrivals on the side-lines.

Why not try two truths and a lie. Everyone must come up with two things that are true about themselves and another thing that’s false. Everyone tries to guess the right answer, which can often lead to stories about past life experiences and helps get people talking. 

4.    Bike checks

You may also want to plan in some time at the start to check bike road worthiness and fit. Make sure everyone has tools and spares and reassure any newcomers that there will always be someone to help out if there are issues on the road.


5.    Buddy up

Make sure every new rider has someone to buddy up with. It’s important that people know at the start of the ride that they will not be dropped or left behind.

One of the most frequent concerns of women joining a cycling group is that they don’t think they’ll be able to keep up. Ideally all the riders should try not to pull too far ahead of the slowest rider or at least make regular stops so that slower riders can catch up.

6.    Factor in extra breaks

Women can suffer from saddle discomfort more often than men due to saddles that are in the wrong position and/or badly shaped for a woman’s anatomy. For beginners who are not used to being in the saddle they might thank you for scheduling in a couple of extra breaks.

It’s also a good opportunity to get the riders back together, check in how people are doing and chat about the ride so far.

7.    Make sure your group is compliant with the current coronavirus guidelines

Finally, it’s important that even though restrictions are continuing to ease, that any group rides are organised in a safe and controlled manner. While specific restrictions vary by nation and area, we’ve put together some guidance to help make life easier: How to organise a safe group ride during the coronavirus pandemic.

Promoting your ride

We want to help you promote your ride to people in your local area and we’d love to see just how many rides are taking place around the country.

1.    Log your ride on the Cycling UK website

It’s really quick and simple to log your ride just follow the instructions on the register an event page below.

Register an event


You can log all your rides here, making them easy to find for any riders in your local area to find and register their interest.

Simply fill in the form, giving as much information as you can. Remember to tag either ‘women only’ or ‘female friendly’ under Type – you can tick as many options as relevant to your particular ride.

2.    Social media

Don’t forget to let your followers on social media know about your ride and do use the #BeYouByBike hashtag and link to Cycling UK in your posts. Include a link to your Cycling UK event page so that interested women can get in touch.

If you’re a part of any community Facebook groups it’s also worth sharing your events there, too.

3.    Local press

You can reach even more people through your local newspaper. Most have a What’s On event page where you can let them know about your event free of charge.

This is not an exhaustive list. We have plenty of other advice and guidance for organising a cycling group ride on our Toolkits for cycling groups page, and on the guide How to: Run bike rides for women.