Belles Big Ride is a big success in Falkirk
Around 50 women took part in the Belles Big Ride on Sunday 22 July 2018, a 40-mile social bike ride organised by volunteers from the Falkirk and Cumbernauld groups of the Belles on Bikes network. The ride, a picturesque loop through the Forth Valley, welcomed women of differing abilities and ages – with the youngest participant in her 20s and the oldest in her 70s . The ride was organised as part of the UK-wide Women’s Festival of Cycling, run by national cycling charity Cycling UK to encourage and inspire women to cycle.
The ride started from the Helix Park in Falkirk, where Recyke-a-bike was on hand to provide free pre-ride bike checks – and ongoing maintenance support throughout the ride. The event was also supported by Falkirk and Stirling Active Travel Hubs, Love to Ride and the Cycling Scientist.
Each group of riders was supported by volunteer ride leaders from Belles on Bikes. Belles on Bikes is a network of women’s cycling groups in Scotland, developed and supported by Cycling UK. The groups are run by volunteers, who support other women to get cycling in a supportive, inclusive and friendly environment.
The cyclists followed the carefully planned route on quiet roads and paths, passing Plane Castle and eventually reaching Stirling for a well-earned lunch break at the Peak. The route then took the women over the River Forth and past the Alloa Tower to Clackmannan. Following that was a highlight of the day – fantastic views on the road back down to the Firth with the riders in high spirits! The ride ended with a celebration at the Great Lawn in the Helix Park, with each woman presented with a unique medal made from recycled bicycle parts and materials.
It was my first ever group ride and I’d never ridden that distance before. It was a great atmosphere, everyone was really supportive and friendly
Carolynn Key, Belles Big Ride participant
One of the participants, Carolynn Key from Tillicoultry commented: “It was my first ever group ride and I’d never ridden that distance before. It was a great atmosphere, everyone was really supportive and friendly. The volunteers and mechanical support were excellent and the scenery was fabulous – I’ve lived in the area all my life but I had no idea how extensive the cycling routes are. It was good to meet like-minded people and I’m already planning a ride with some of the people I met.”
Julie Rand, Women’s Festival of Cycling co-ordinator at Cycling UK said: “It’s great to see so many women celebrating the Women’s Festival of Cycling and ultimately enjoying riding their bikes together. There are 10 Belles on Bikes groups around Scotland, so we’d encourage women of all abilities and ages to give cycling a try in an inclusive and friendly environment.”
Julie Cunningham, one of the event organisers from Belles on Bikes Falkirk, added: "I was worried that the event would be a wash out, but instead it was a sell out! We had such high demand that we had to approach other volunteer ride leaders so we could increase the numbers. I’m so thankful to all the other volunteers who helped run this event and all the organisations who supported it.”
Morag Prach from Belles on Bikes Cumbernauld continued: “The task of organising a big event seemed at times daunting, but we worked as a team of volunteers supporting each other. Although stressful, I think our passion on the day shone through to create a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I applaud the fabulous women I had the honour to work with.”
Notes to editors
- Print-quality photographs from the event can be downloaded [here]
- Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone
- The Women’s Festival of Cycling is run by national cycling charity Cycling UK across the UK to encourage and inspire women to cycle
- Belles on Bikes is a network of women's cycling groups in Scotland, developed and supported by Cycling UK. The groups are fun by volunteers, who support other women to get cycling in a supportive, inclusive and friendly environment