For somebody who now shows women the unlimited potential of cycling, Louise Collins’s relationship with the bike started quite late. In fact, she only first sat on a bike aged 37.
Her decision to take up cycling was inspired by seeing an advert for a Marie Curie Cancer Care fundraising ride. In just 16 weeks, Louise went from being a complete beginner to riding York-Amsterdam-York, 250 miles in four days. She’s never looked looked back.
In 2013, Louise signed up to train as a Breeze Champion and she has led level 1 and 2 rides in Liverpool and Sefton. For a two-year period from 2015, while living in the USA, she worked with Women Bike Chicago Active Trans Alliance, again encouraging women to enjoy riding socially.
After returning to the UK in summer 2017, Louise was straight back leading Breeze and guided rides again. Then she trained as a National Standard Cycling Instructor to deliver Bikeability lessons to school children.
Although it sounds incredibly cheesy, cycling has changed my life.
Earlier this year, Louise took the opportunity to start her coaching course and now offers a weekly confidence building skills session to women returning or new to riding. And she still commits to completing one challenging charity ride a year for women's cancer charities, both in the UK and abroad.
Louise said: “Although it sounds incredibly cheesy, cycling has changed my life. I have a new career, I've met so many wonderful people who I now consider my friends, and it's allowing me to become more car free.
“When I moved abroad, my bike was my way into a new social network through a local cycling club. Cycling is so enabling.”
Louise was nominated for 100 Women in Cycling by British Cycling’s Rebekah Reese, who said: “As a result of Louise’s dedication, enthusiasm and countless hours of volunteering, organising, promoting and leading rides - including the Three Parks, South Liverpool Ride, and the Liverpool Loop Line Breeze - she has reinvigorated the Liverpool Breeze program.
“She has encouraged many women in Liverpool to cycle, the vast majority of whom are new to cycling and were previously inactive.
“Louise has also helped to create a group on the Let’s Ride website allowing Breeze Champions to share rides, routes and ideas. This provides the support network required to keep Breeze Champions engaged, resulting in the continuous development of rides.
“Louise has recently qualified as a level 1 Cycle Skills coach, allowing her to offer sessions to women who lack confidence in cycling but wish to progress further onto a Breeze ride. She is at the heart of the Breeze programme in Merseyside and is, without a doubt, a perfect example of an ambassador for the Breeze Programme.”
What is 100 Women in Cycling?
Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling is an annual list celebrating inspirational women who are encouraging others to cycle.