Back at the start of 2017 Victoria decided she wanted to start cycling again and was on the look-out for groups she could join locally - the women-only HSBC UK Breeze rides looked friendly and easy. She plucked up the courage to join one and was immediately hooked.
Victoria wanted to be a part of it, to be able to offer more opportunities locally, not just to women but to anyone. She knew there must be loads of people out there like her - people who loved cycling but didn't feel ready to join a club. So she trained up as a ride leader and on the course she met someone amazing who was as enthusiastic as she was – the pair of them set up Cardiff Social Cycling and started planning their first rides on local cycle paths. One of the other ride leaders helped run a series of training rides and introduced them to some new routes and from there the group grew and grew.
Victoria particularly enjoys seeing individual members of the group growing in confidence and challenging themselves while making new friends at the same time. Some participants have even been inspired to train as ride leaders themselves and start their own groups, some have gone on to join local clubs, while others keep returning to Victoria’s rides, there really is something for everyone who wants to join in. Many of the members have entered local sportive rides, and the group even went on a cycling holiday to Mallorca earlier in 2019.
I love cycling because of the positive effect it has on everyone - improving both physical and mental health, the social aspects both on and off the bike.
Victoria told us "I love cycling because of the positive effect it has on everyone - improving both physical and mental health, the social aspects both on and off the bike, the way we all help each other out and share tips and routes, the massive network of cycling organisations, local heroes, ride leaders, friends, great cafes and bike shops I've come to know. I don't know where I'd be without it now!"
During the first year Victoria led rides most weekends, positioning herself at the back of the group, making sure no-one was left behind, encouraging everyone on the hills. During the summer she introduced extra evening rides to get more practice on the hills, which were really popular. Over the winter people still wanted to get out in the evenings so Victoria did some research and found a well-lit, traffic-free and flat loop the team could use in Cardiff Bay, this meant that everyone could join in for as long as they wanted to, chatting and getting to know each other. At the end of the ride there is always time for a sociable drink. Most Tuesday evenings Victoria leads a short hilly ride, most Wednesdays she puts on a gentler ride, and on Thursdays, the group does the weekly loop ride. She continues to invest a lot of her free time looking at maps researching new routes and destinations for weekday and weekend rides.
Victoria was nominated by nine different people, clearly showing the impact she has had on the local community. "Vicky is a quiet champion of cycling. She is one of the founding members of Cardiff Social Cycling and a guided ride leader. She is welcoming of riders of all abilities when we go out on group rides and she encourages everyone to have a go no matter what the challenge is. Without her positivity I would never have completed the famous ‘tumble’ climb in South Wales or completed rides of more than 90 miles in the build up to attempting a century ride. She also knows the best places to stop for cake!"
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.