Taking up cycling only five years ago Laura joined a Breeze ride and hasn’t looked back. After training as a Breeze Champion, she helped set up a new group in the local area. Starting with only eight women, Laura’s energy passion and support for new members has helped expand the group to more than 50 regular riders.
Laura Venn said…
“I was, up until five years ago, someone who had a bike in the garage and never really used it. A stressed-out full-time working mum with two small kids, not overweight but not exactly fit, and distrustful of my bike after a rather nasty cycling accident.
“Then I saw an advert on Facebook and little did I know but my relationship with bikes and cycling was about to change forever.
“I joined a Breeze ride in Rugby, Warwickshire not really knowing what to expect but desperate to do something for me, get some exercise and fresh air and hopefully make some new friends – and of course, not fall off or do myself any more harm!
“That was 2015, I was hooked after just one ride. I rode with the same lovely group for a year before training as a British Cycling Breeze champion in March 2017 to encourage others to give cycling a go.
“West Haddon Breeze was born and we now have weekly evening rides, indoor spin sessions over the winter, social and maintenance nights, ride sportives together and lots more. We have over 200 Facebook followers and regularly have 30+ women riding with us on a Wednesday evening.
“What is lovely is that some of those who have been with me since the start now give new riders the benefit of their experience, and some have qualified as Breeze champions. We pride ourselves on our ethos; we never leave anyone behind, we remember what it was like to be a beginner; and we always socialise after every ride with cake where possible.
We pride ourselves on our ethos; we never leave anyone behind, we remember what it was like to be a beginner; and we always socialise after every ride with cake where possible
“We also have our own motto: #strengthinunity, which is printed on our kit.
“Recognising that our group is growing, in April 2020, we set up West Haddon Hurricanes as an official cycling club and I’m honoured to be the first chairwoman.
“I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved in a relatively short period of time and we have big plans for the future.
“Covid-19 has demonstrated how much more cycling means to people than just exercise. We are a family, we check in on each other, we have regular online calls, quizzes, cocktail catch-ups and virtual rides.
This group of ladies has changed my life and I couldn’t have coped through lockdown without them and my turbo
“This group of ladies has changed my life and I couldn’t have coped through lockdown without them and my turbo.
“I’m constantly inspired; everyone comes with different stories, challenges, concerns and when we are out on our bikes the stresses evaporate – it might only be for an hour or two, but cycling is pure escapism. I will never grow tired of people saying they can’t ride, won’t get up that hill, and then with a little encouragement they do. My trick is to lie – I’m never honest about how far we’ve got left, how many hills are on the route, what speed we’re doing – I’m renowned for it, but it works!”
Laura was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by many of her cycling companions.
Jean Sinclair said: “For me to start cycling at 66 took a lot of courage. Laura has not only welcomed me but given me the encouragement to ride, the skills I need, the confidence I have gained and most importantly the love of cycling. She is inspirational in all she does.”
Cara Gammage said: “Laura is the linchpin of our Breeze group. The founding member, she has grown the group so much that in this our fourth year we are looking to evolve and set up a British Cycling-affiliated club (the West Haddon Hurricanes) to feed our Breeze ladies into and to develop our existing ladies further.
“Laura supports everyone whether that be hugs or cajoling or in my case, bullying me up every hill that I don’t think I can conquer, but conquer them I do with Laura by my side every pedal stroke of the way.
“Laura’s energy is boundless. She rides for everyone in our group, not for herself and always with a great big grin on her face and a 'whoop!' on her lips. She spends hours on admin, planning trips and rides and winter training, just so that we can enjoy ourselves and just ride.
“Laura is most definitely my cycling heroine and a true inspiration."
Sam Jones said: “When I had lost all confidence in biking after a fall Laura’s encouragement was invaluable. After a lot of coaxing she got me to come out on a Breeze ride with a small group.
“I have now progressed to a bigger group and due to all of our success we are now helping her set up a club. She works full-time, with children, and still has time to get us all together and take us for lots of organised rides. She is a godsend and I wouldn't be riding as much without her."
Abbie Mitchell said: “Laura Venn, well where do I start! She has inspired so many women to start cycling in our community and you only have to see her out on a ride with the group to see why!
"She is so supportive of everyone and pushes us to our limits and beyond! She helps verbally, through her shouts and cheers at the top of the hills when we make it up but she has also helped me physically by cycling next to me and quite literally pushing me up a hill when I was having a particularly tough ride, she was not going to let me give in when she knew all I needed was a bit of support.
"It is for this that I and so many others truly feel inspired by Laura. She set up our Breeze group with eight people. Now three or four years on we have over 50 women! I think it is safe to say that Laura truly is a community champion."