One of the most active members of her mostly male cycling club, Frances is always supportive and welcoming of new members, ensuring their first experience of cycling is positive. A ride leader, club welfare officer and committee member, Frances is working on enhancing her club's cycling experience for female riders with the aim to increase the number of women members.
Frances Curtin said…
“If I look back over the last decade and a bit, which is when I really got into cycling, the Cyclettas for women only are pivotal. Great locations, inclusive of all abilities and excellent back-up and site "villages".
“Other sportives have followed, especially local ones with an emphasis on charity but challenging nonetheless. Thirty miles stretched to 50 then 80 miles. In the last few years I have tackled the mountains of Mallorca and the foothills of the Pyrenees, and much closer to home, the Chiltern Festival, a hill-climb competition and a 25-mile time trial. All done with the encouragement of family, friends and a supportive club.
“These personal achievements have given me confidence to venture into making a contribution to the club I joined in late August 2016, Beaconsfield Cycling Club.
“First by doing a ride leader course and more recently, becoming theclub welfare officer as well as a committee member.
We know how difficult it can be for lady riders who work and have a young family... I believe that the voice of women riders needs to be heard
“We know how difficult it can be for lady riders who work and have a young family to take on extra responsibilities, but since I am retired, and because I believe that the voice of women riders needs to be heard, I was happy to take on these roles. I value the opportunities to encourage new or returning riders through helping to lead the mellow rides, in particular. Seeing riders develop their skills and self-confidence and making new friends benefits us all.
“In early February 2020, based on coffee-stop conversations with other lady riders, and with the backing of the committee, I decided to initiate a survey to draw out views of the female members of the club in the hope of enhancing the riding experience of existing female members and to expand the membership of the ladies in the club, which has stalled.
I felt that it was really important to enable the lady riders to speak openly and honestly, whatever their level of ability and experience
“I felt that it was really important to enable the lady riders to speak openly and honestly, whatever their level of ability and experience. With the open and frank response from female members of the club, I was able to complete a SWOT analysis drawing on the excellent British Cycling/HSBC UK report on women and girls in cycling and submit it to the club committee.
“Of course, in March cycling and club activities were put on hold as we went into lockdown. On reconvening as a club I intend to discuss conclusions drawn and next steps with the committee to enable Beaconsfield Club cycling to become a better experience for all.
Cycling as an activity is uplifting, challenging and energising. I believe that it makes a significant contribution to both physical and mental wellbeing. I enjoy supporting others but I am myself supported through new friends I have made and new challenges.
Cycling as an activity is uplifting, challenging and energising. I believe that it makes a significant contribution to both physical and mental wellbeing. I enjoy supporting others but I am myself supported through new friends I have made and new challenges. There is nothing quite like a bike ride to provide perspective, and when that is shared and supported with others, all benefit."
Frances was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Deborah Ward, who said:
“Frances is one of those quiet people who are a catalyst for all good things in clubs but very rarely if ever get any recognition as they would never think to ask for it.
“She is one of the most active members of the (mostly male) club. She rides with all levels and supports and encourages all new female riders, with her always friendly welcome.
“Frances is not the fastest or strongest but models a brilliant spirit of 'just do it' in a unique, quiet, kind, generous and modest way.
“She rides with all the different groups within the club, the whole range of abilities, and earns the respect of everyone she rides with. She also runs the mellow rides to support anyone looking to join the club, sacrificing her own longer rides to support those less confident.
“She is on the committee as safety officer and in addition to that role recently did a brilliant piece of informal collection of all the reasons female riders are less in attendance at the club, reaching far and wide to get feedback.
“Very inclusive, Frances put together a brilliant document and in her own calm understated way is taking that to the committee. As ever, she takes everyone along with her – not one to force her point of view.
“A true unsung amazing cycling role model, Frances will always make sure she is there for coffee and attends all the socials, though very often she must be the only woman there. Very unique and special.
“She involves her grandchildren in the youth section of the club, helping to grow that too. But you'd never know any of this by talking to Frances – she would be too busy finding out about you!”