Celebrating the women at Rutland Cycling | International Women's Day

Words by David Hicks

on 08/03/2021 08:56:28


It's International Women's Day! To mark the occasion, we've spoken to some of our female riders at Rutland Cycling to give you their handy hints for riding and share their experiences with you. With a wide range of personalities and experiences from avid racers to new riders, we've got plenty of stories, tips and tricks to share. Get to know our female riders below, from their favourite bits of kit to their best advice for starting out on your own cycling journey.


Lucy Sturgess

#TeamRutland Ambassador, Road Cyclist

Job/ Discipline: I'm mainly a road rider but dabble in a little off road occasionally! I also do the occasional local time trial, road race and sometimes the odd hill climb. I currently mainly enjoy riding longer distance rides, riding with friends where possible in current circumstances and partaking in a little cafe racing or the odd mini tour. Aside from cycling I'm an account manager for a packaging company, we sell luxury bespoke packaging.

Why I ride?: I ride bikes for so many reasons but mainly because I love being outside, exploring and the benefits it brings to my mental health and keeps me fit!

Top tips for New Cyclists: My top tip is to ride with other people, whether that's a buddy or a group (once group riding opens up again!). Don't be worried about trying a few different groups to find the right one for you, ask questions and don't be afraid to ask for help and tips. Cycling is a great way of meeting new people, my cycling pals are now some of my closest friends. Most of all just enjoy it!

Essential Pieces of Equipment: I have much kit that I use and love on a regular basis, my Scott Addict RC is of course something that I love using! However an absolute essential is decent padded shorts or bib tights, I couldn't ride without them and so do invest in a decent pair if you're new to riding. You want to be comfortable on your bike and this is one of the best investments you can make as a new rider.

How do I get more confident on a bike?: One of the best things I did for my cycling was to attend the British Cycling women's development sessions in Leicestershire. They were great for confidence building, skills, meeting other like minded female riders and through these sessions taking my first steps into racing. It was one of the best things that I ever did for my cycling and confidence, learning how to ride in a group properly and how to ride corners properly are skills which will really help you out on the road. Hopefully there will be more of these sessions on the calendar at some point as I couldn't recommend them enough.


Maddy Higgs

Store Manager at Rutland Cycling Nottingham, Road & XC Riding

Why I ride?: It is my way of escaping the stress and strains of life - Freedom on 2 wheels!

Top tips for New Cyclists: Everyone was a beginner at some point and I won't lie it is hard to start with, but it does get easier (or you just get faster, or so the saying goes). Just remember to enjoy it and take the wins where you get them and celebrate them, a PR here, riding an obstacle that you couldn't last time. Don't get too hung up on the numbers to start with, they will come in time.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: A good set of womens bib shorts can be a complete game-changer with regards to your comfort. Please, please... please always wear a helmet!

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Nothing can replace miles in the saddle. The more you ride the more comfortable you are. Off road don't be worried about stopping to have a look at an obstacle first. Role you bike over it if you're worried to see what it will do, if your still worried then leave it. It will still be there next time. Don't let yourself be bullied by other riders on the trail, they can wait to get past you till you find a place that you are comfortable pulling over.

Ladies one of the best resources you have are other women. You will have questions that you may not feel comfortable asking men at your local shop, so ask the thousands of women out there. There are groups out there where you can ask whatever you want and get honest advice. The best part is we are always supportive of each other.

Just enjoy it. As long as you are having fun, nothing else really matters!


Danielle Wilde

Category Manager at Rutland Cycling, Road Cyclist

Why I ride?: Cycling has been great for my mental health, especially during lockdown and whilst social restrictions have been in place.

Top tips for New Cyclists: Don't expect to be great straight away, with each ride, your skill and confidence will improve. I found that riding with someone more experienced helps. Also, make sure you are prepared, have a kit with you so that you can repair a puncture should you get one and have a light if you are going out to later in the day. Don't get caught out!

Essential Pieces of Equipment: Bibshorts! Investing in a great pair of padded shorts with transform your ride. As you ride you will want to upgrade your kit but investing in padded shorts from the off will be worth it. Also a headband and overshoes in winter, cold ears and cold feet is not good.

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Try riding in different conditions, this will increase your ability to handle the bike and also get you use to how it reacts. I used to be a fair weather cyclist but as long as you have the right kit you can adapt your riding to any weather. The more you ride the more confident you get. Also descents are my weakness so repeating the same decent and watching how to videos will help greatly.


Clair Parfrey

Digital Sales at Rutland Cycling, Road, TT & Gravel

Job/ Discipline: In my role in the Digital Sales Team I advise people on the best, most appropriate pieces of cycling equipment to suit there needs and then assist them with their purchase. Away from work cycling is my passion too- general road cycling, time trialling and more recently gravel. I coach and compete, cycling has given me a new career and has taken me around the world representing Great Britain.

Why I ride?: For fun!!! I like being outside, feeling the weather and hearing nature, it clears my mind. I like feeling strong too and knowing that I am doing my best to be healthy for my family.

Top tips for New Cyclists: Make sure your bike is the right size - if it isn't you won't enjoy the ride. Ask for guidance from our sales team online or instore. If you can try one in the store.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: Get some good kit - if there's one thing to invest in its padded shorts. You are putting a lot of load on the saddle and your body needs protecting. Also remember that like a pillow the paddling/gel will flatten over time and won't be as comfortable so they will need replacing every year or so. (Depending on the miles you put in)

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Start of somewhere away from traffic and ideally away from too many people - a local park during the week for example. Just start by getting off and on. Once you are happy with the control and your balance progress to small hills and corners. Remember that you are doing this for FUN!!! Theres no pressure to go a certain distance or speed. Reward yourself when you reach certain goals - coffee and cake when you've ridden for an 1hr or a bar of chocolate at the top of the hill - that's great, works for me!


Sian Botteley

Category Assistant at Rutland Cycling| Road, CX & MTB

Job/ Discipline: Accessories Category Assistant. Primarily road riding, but equally love cyclocross and a bit of MTB when time allows.

Why I ride?: My dad has raced at a high level since before I was born, so cycling has always been a passion for myself and my family. I'm hugely competitive and love the outdoors, so bike riding and racing satisfies both of these aspects of my personality.

Top tips for New Cyclists: My biggest tip would be to build up slowly, and to make sure you fuel your riding. Slowly increase your mileage and speed and you'll be surprised at how quickly you improve. There's nothing worse than still having several miles left until you get home and having run out of energy completely, so cnce you get to the stage where you can ride further afield and you'll be on the bike for over an hour, make sure you take some kind of riding snack with you. This can be anything from specific cycling nutrition products to a cereal bar or banana.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: A reasonable money investment if you're new to the sport, but I wouldn't be without a GPS computer. The ability to plot a route before you set off and follow turn by turn navigation on a head unit on your handlebars lets you explore new routes from your front door and further afield, as well as giving you the confidence that you'll never get lost no matter how adventurous you want to be. Plus pairing a computer with apps such as Strava lets you upload your rides and keep track of your improvements.

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Cycling is a great way to meet new people, and getting to know riders more experienced than yourself will help you progress and gain confidence. Wherever you live, there'll be a local cycling club close by that you can join, with plenty of people that have been �newbies� themselves and will be able to impart valuable knowledge and experience. Clubs will also run regular rides at varying paces, so you'll no doubt be able to find people to ride with. Riding with other people in a group teaches you bike handling skills as well as generally making you feel less vulnerable on the road.


Claire Elmer

HR Advisor at Rutland Cycling, Leisure rider

Why I ride?: I ride for fitness and to spend time with my family in the great outdoors.

Top tips for New Cyclists: Buy your bike from a good shop who can advise you on fitting and setup, invest in a good pair of padded shorts and remember that even if you only go for a short ride you will feel better than if you had stayed on the sofa.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: I love my padded shorts and can really tell the difference between the cheap ones I bought when I started and the better quality ones that I wear now. Maybe over time I will toughen up but for now, they're my number 1 piece of kit!

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Ride! The only way that I managed to get my head around the gears was to ride around Rutland Water a few times and by using a turbo trainer at home. Having built up my confidence on the cycle paths, I am now much happier riding on the roads but that took time. Remember not to compare yourself to other riders, these days they might even be on an electric bike and you can't always tell. Ride for yourself.


Wendi Carrington

Sales Advistor at Giant Store Rutland, Road & Triathlon

Why I ride?: Cycling not only forms the longest part of triathlon, but it is also my favourite discipline, I love my Bike so I really enjoy this part of my training. The sense of freedom of exploring new routes especially the longer rides, I am always amazed at the different perspective you get on a bike being more aware of your surroundings. I plan my routes in advance but the normally have detours due to getting lost!

Top tips for New Cyclists: Ensure that your bike is adjusted and is fitted correctly. A few minor adjustments of both bike and body position can make all the difference, between enjoying your ride and not. Maintain your bike regularly, learn the basics like changing a puncture so you can be self-sufficient out on the road - there are some great Youtube videos out there! Clean your bike - a clean bike is a happy bike. Join British cycling they offer great support for all cyclists and they have dedicated women's breeze rides for women, at locations all over the country. Cycle with other cyclists to enjoy the social aspect of the sport, join your local club details can be found on British cycling. Enter a sportive or organised local ride. It's good to have goals and aims to work towards and a great way to ride a new or longer route without the worry of getting lost and with mechanical support. Cycling is a great way to increase fitness but combining with Yoga, Pilates and core exercise including running, walking and swimming you will increase not only your overall fitness, but it will help work on your endurance on the bike and overall enjoyment of the sport.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: My recommendation for essential kit would be to get your cycling wardrobe in order and wear appropriate layers for the weather conditions - Always check the forecast! From your feet up, comfy merino socks or cycling socks and well-fitting pair of cycling shorts are perfect. I prefer bib shorts as they are more comfortable on longer rides. Ensure they fit correctly so the pad will remain in the correct position. A base layer under your jersey will add warmth on cold days and wick away sweat on warm ones. Choose a jersey with pockets in the rear for all your essentials while riding. A buff in your pocket comes in handy as an extra layer and lastly a portable rain jacket that can be stored in one of your pockets or on the bike, it is surprising how cold you can get relatively quickly when you stop cycling.

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Confidence comes with patience, practice and familiarity with your bike. When I first started cycling, I found changing gear was my first challenge - I would recommend putting your bike on a turbo to practice this without worrying about your surroundings until it becomes second nature, the same can be applied when swapping onto cleats for the first time. Once you have mastered this set up some football cones and practice through and round them. When learning to ride with others agree the signals you are using to indicate your actions, this way you will ride safely as a group even if it's only a group of 2. Most motorists are considerate, especially if you are also obeying the rules of the road and indicating your intentions. Ride with friends - it's a great way to enjoy your sport and catch up with new or likeminded friends and enjoy the great outdoors. There are some fabulous cycling cafes out there so plan you routes well... refuelling is essential on long rides.


Becky Hair

Physiotherapist, Specialized Ambassador, Road Cyclist

Job/ Discipline: I'm a respiratory physiotherapist in the NHS in Cambridge. I also run my private business for strength coaching, personal training and physiotherapy. I am a road cyclist, and specialise in hill climb racing and crit racing. I started off as a swimmer, then got into triathlon before making the leap to cycling!

Why I ride?: For the exhilaration as you ride through the countryside, to push my body to the limit, and of course - the social company on group rides!

Top tips for New Cyclists: Reach out on social media, find a buddy or join a club, explore new routes with others. That's how I got into it, and that's how I became a convert from triathlon! Don't worry about what type of bike you're on, or what kind of gear you need - just get outside and enjoy every moment! Try a variety of riding and try to experience as much as you can, then you'll find out what you really love. When you first start out, it's helpful to go with someone more experienced as they'll help you out from a 'mechanical' point of view - I'd highly suggest watching some Youtube videos online and practicing changing your inner tube before you go out on your own - just so you know you're able to do it (should the worst happen!). Make sure to always carry a pump and spares too.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: A decent waterproof - something small and lightweight that you can carry around with you whatever the weather in the UK. There's no such thing as bad weather - just bad kit! Second to that, is a good bike computer to help you with routes - this will help hugely with your confidence to explore and go further afield - and it's a really great investment. I have a Wahoo Elemnt Roam which is fantastic and so easy to use!

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Getting out and ride - that's it, honestly! Try to make it sociable (once Covid passes we will have more group rides coming back), explore new routes, ask questions, take an interest in how others do it, and then use that information to form your own opinions as you become more experienced. If you've had a bike fit, your bike will fit you better and your confidence will sky rocket, this will help you whizz round corners. It's worth watching some of the british cycling videos about how to corner, as this can really help too - knowing where to position your body over the bike will serve wonders!


Emma O'Brien

PAC Despatch Team Leader/Road cycling with a few triathlons

Why I ride?: Commuting, fitness and for fun

Top tips for New Cyclists: Build up gradually and don't compare your speeds/distances to other cyclists.

Essential Pieces of Equipment: A decent pair of bibshorts/tights...Comfort is key!

How do I get more confident on a bike?: Try and find more experienced cyclists to ride with and spend as much time on your bike as possible.

Find your nearest Rutland Cycling store