Every fortnight on a Saturday morning – all year, all weathers – the Rapha Manchester Women’s Ride meets at the clubhouse for coffee before rolling out in search of Peak District climbs or quiet Cheshire lanes.
Since these regular rides were first launched in March 2016 the group has seen significant growth with both experienced riders and individuals new to cycling. And as another year draws to a close, in their own words the members of this group tell a story of goals achieved, encouragement given and a road shared.
‘We’re all on a journey and to play some part in helping encourage another female rider; well, that’s a privilege I value enormously. And it’s an honour to lead and ride along with such an amazing group of cyclists. Our adventures never fail to make us smile no matter what the weather throws at us.’ Sarah (group leader and Rapha Ambassador)
‘So grateful to be welcomed by the Rapha Manchester ladies. Their support and expertise encourages me so much! Great company and routes and I always look forward to the next time we get together. Cycling with friends that motivate each other makes all the difference and it’s been an amazing year.’ Belinda
‘Pym’s Chair can be a breaking point for some cyclists but, for me, a chance meeting with Sarah and Belinda on the climb opened up a whole new world of cycling. I was officially recruited into the Rapha Cycling Club! I had already met them briefly a few hours earlier at a feed stop where we exchanged compliments on our kit. And since then, the Saturday rides and RCC Sundays have opened up a world of amazing people, fabulous routes and a support network that has enriched my cycling life.
Riding with Rapha Manchester has transformed cycling from a fitness activity into an adventure. Exploring the countryside that surrounds the city centre has been so very enjoyable – it’s beautiful round here – together with a social life full of coffee, cake and laughter.
I have achieved things I never thought were possible; sharing the road with amazing women. An Olympian, crit and cross racers, experienced athletes and those new to the sport. Every ride provides more tips, advice and encouragement in a way that empowers me as a cyclist. I never believed I would ever manage to ride up the Rake, complete the hilly Women’s 100 route, blast round the Cappuccino 180 or sprint down the Tatton ‘wall’ at 29mph. And I know I wouldn’t have done any of these things without the support of this amazing group of people. Thanks for finding me on Pym’s Chair and thank you team RCC.’ Sue
‘Though I love cycling, I very much doubt I’d be the cyclist I am today if it wasn’t for the Rapha Manchester ladies. The group rides have built my confidence on the road and are excellent motivation. All these elements build together and push me further. Two years ago if someone had suggested I’d be climbing the Rake or heading for 2,500 miles for the year I’d have thought they were crazy. The rides are very inclusive and a great laugh. Roll on 2018.’ Kelly
‘Our riding group is the motivation that gets me out of the door when the weather is inclement. Knowing that you’re going to have a great day with a group that is fun and supportive. Taking me into the Peak District and exploring Cheshire lanes that I wouldn’t otherwise venture through on my own. I’ve made many new cycling buddies and it’s challenged me too; making me a stronger rider.’ Shelley
‘I rode the Women’s 100 last summer and because everyone was so friendly I started going out on a Saturday with the Rapha Manchester ladies. I wanted more options; to ride in a mixed group with faster people so I could get stronger. And cycling means so much to me. It keeps me sane; makes me feel happy.’ Hannah
‘I feel so lucky to have discovered the Rapha Women’s rides this year. They’ve taught me the many values of riding with a club; that perfect combination of ambition and motivation whilst not taking yourself too seriously on the bike. I’ve learnt that the way to achieve goals is to laugh through the challenges. You can then guarantee you finish every ride with a smile on your face.’ Jen
‘This is my first year on a bike and it’s been an incredible journey with many highs and even the occasional low. But after a few false starts and fuelled by a multitude of flat whites, I’ve conquered my demons and achieved goals I never thought were possible. Making new friends in the group has given me the confidence and inspiration to keep going. Even when I’ve doubted myself.’ Miriam
For more information on the Rapha Manchester Women’s Clubhouse Rides.
All images @openautograph