Inspiration, advice and support for girls and women who want to cycle

Cathy Tester from Breeze Derby tells us all about a great event ahead of International Women’s Day.

Over 40 women and girls attended a free, female only event at The University of Derby Enterprise Centre on the evening of Wednesday 26th February. The event was organised by Love to Ride, Derby Cycling Group and Sustrans, and formed part of a wider campaign to encourage more women to cycle in Derby.

The evening began with talks from four inspirational speakers. First up was Kate Ball on the topic of cycling with children. As a mother of four, a childminder and an everyday cyclist, she was well placed to share a wealth of knowledge, information and advice. Kate explained the different options available when transporting young children by bike, and how to then encourage them to become independent cyclists.

Next to speak was Cath Rodkoff who began cycling in her forties, improving both her physical and mental health as a result. She now supports and motivates other women through her roles as a breeze champion (women only led rides) and as the founder of Nottingham girls cycle group. Cath’s presentation ended with a short film entitled ‘one in a million’, which was put together by British Cycling and is available to view on their website. 

Our third speaker was Tracey Fletcher who inspired the audience with her personal ‘cycling journey’ and how she pushed her physical and mental capabilities to compete in, and win, races. Tracey then explained how she went on to use her knowledge and skills, and give something back, through her role as a cycle trainer. 

Finally, Joss Winter, a Sustrans employee and cycle commuter, gave a presentation on route planning and cycling to work.  She gave practical tips and information to encourage and inspire women to find their way by bike and to begin riding rather than driving to work.

After a quick refreshment break the attendees split into four discussion groups: ‘cycling with children’, ‘confidence’, ‘practical tips’ and ‘route planning’. Questions were asked, information and knowledge were shared, and the feeling around the room was one of positivity and support. The topics discussed and fed back to the rest of the group covered: teaching your children to ride, finding the right saddle, accessing led rides, where to position your bike when riding on the road, what to wear on a cycle commute, and so much more.

Everyone left the event feeling inspired, informed and supported, and the feedback that we have received so far has been extremely positive.

From Foodhall to Bikehall

Bikehall founder-member Henry Roe gives us the story of Sheffield’s newest community bike kitchen

Foodhall Project is Sheffield’s multi-award winning public dining room and community kitchen. Its heart-of-the-city eating and event space has been open since 2015 and is dedicated to building community and food security while tackling social isolation, inequality, and food waste.

But what’s that got to do with bikes and cycling?

Foodhall’s open organisational structure means that members of the community are welcome to contribute to the project in many different ways. If you’re into pottery, you can start up pottery workshops. If you’re passionate about film, you can start up a cinema night. And if you’re into riding (and fixing) bicycles and want to share that with others, well, you can do that too.

That’s how Bikehall started in 2018. The plan was to share our (sometimes rusty) bike maintenance knowledge with other people in the Foodhall community who wanted to learn or whose bicycles needed some TLC. The problem was: we had no money and few resources for getting the workshops off the ground. With the help of a bit of funding from Love to Ride and NUS’s UniCycle project, however, we were on our way to having just enough tools and equipment to get moving.

Bikehall began with a series of bike maintenance workshops in autumn, 2018. We invited folks to join us for a two hour class about a specific part of the bicycle (brakes, gears, etc.) followed by a hearty meal cooked by volunteers. The sessions were well-attended and we had some great feedback. Our team of committed volunteers also grew after workshop-attendees wanted to get more involved.

After our initial success, it would be wrong to say it was all plain sailing from there. In 2019 our workshop attendance dropped off and we soon realised we needed to promote the sessions more widely. We also decided we wanted to experiment with different kinds of events, to act as cycling advocates and not just bicycle tinkerers. We ran a film night in collaboration with Foodhall’s TV Dinners project, in which we showcased three short films from a diverse range of film makers.

The TV Dinners event poster

We also organised our first Bikehall bike ride – a 20km(ish) route out to Damflask reservoir in the foothills of the Peak District. We also changed our workshops to an open bike kitchen-style ‘Build-a-Bike’ workshop format – through which we rejuvenate donated bikes to sell but also help other people fix their own bikes. This gives us more flexibility during the sessions, regardless of how many people turn up.

Running these events and making the change to the workshop format has helped us maintain a more sustainable schedule for us as volunteers and for people who want to join in. Support from other local organisations has also helped a lot. We had 5 bikes donated to us from the University of Sheffield, lots of hardware donated from COMAC Bike Project, and some more bikes given to us from ReCycle Bikes – who run their own well-priced Bike Kitchen with a really supportive team of mechanics.

All of this means that in 2020 we’re planning to do even more. We have another ride (or two) in the works, we’re organising another film/documentary screening (with food!), and we’re running bimonthly build-a-bike workshops (every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, from 5.30-8pm). In addition, we’re building our own permanent bike workshop space in Foodhall’s basement – to give more people access to a fully kitted out workshop at different times of the day. It’s all shaping up to be another great year for Bikehall.

If you want to get involved please check out our webpage or email us at We especially need experienced and/or confident bike mechanics to help supervise workshops. If that sounds like you, then please get in touch!

Rolls Royce Celebrate

On a cold but sunny February morning, our Local Project Manager for Derby, Lucy Giuliano, had the pleasure of officially unveiling the new Cyclehoop bike rack at Rolls Royce.

Rolls Royce staff celebrate their victory

Global winners of our 2019 Cycle September challenge, staff from across the site gathered to enjoy homemade cake, a quick spin on an electric bike courtesy of local bike shop Cyclomonster and encouraging talks from Rolls Royce’s Director of Health, Safety and Environment, as well as their hard working champion Eloise Thatcher, who organised the event.

Kindly provided by Cyclehoop, the bike rack is a much needed addition to the very well used cycle storage and there are already plans to expand the cycle storage provision as a result of the win. The importance of cycling is highlighted on the custom made plaque commissioned by Eloise and hopefully Rolls Royce will continue their winning streak throughout our upcoming challenges in 2020!

Rolls Royce’s plaque celebrating their win

Love to Ride Southampton – R&M Electrical

Matt Ridely, the Champion for Cycle September winners R&M Electrical, tells us why he registered his workplace and how promoting cycling benefits the business.

I’ve worked at R&M for over 12 years now and have been cycling to work for 6 years. At our Head Office in Sholing (where I work) we have approximately 60 staff. We do have showers and a large shed for storing bikes. At Head Office it is only me who commutes by bike regularly all year-round but there are a handful of others that ride at the weekend and at other sites who also cycle on a regular basis.

I registered R&M because I wanted to encourage others to start cycling to work as it’s a great benefit to our health and to the environment. When I first registered us on Love to Ride I thought it would just be a handful of people getting involved but people I’d never imagined would start riding started getting out in the evenings, or heading out to the local shop in lunch breaks. It’s been amazing to watch.

To get people involved I sent out regular emails to all staff to show how we were doing and asked them to get out and ride. I think the thing that got most people out was my 8 year old son and I doing a 25km charity ride around Portsmouth. I think that inspired people to get out there… if an 8 year old can do it they can too!

People who took part have also had their attitudes to cycling changed, it’s almost like they’d forgotten what it feels like to ride and how much fun it is. Another benefit is getting people to think about what it is like for people commuting by bike and to pay more care when driving around cyclists. The prizes have been great, a nice mix of prizes for veteran riders, and also great prizes to help people get started riding.

R&M’s stats for Cycle September 2019

I’m looking to build up a fleet of bikes here at head office for people to use during lunch breaks to get them away from their screens and out in the fresh air. In spring, I’ll be organising some excursions to Mayfield Park just up the road from us to get people out and about. I think that now I know there are people here willing to join in I will ramp up the noise I make prior to Cycle September and get some Bikeability training on site to give people more confidence to head out onto the roads. Maybe have some in-house prizes to get people competing a bit too. My advice to other Champions would be to just keep making noise about it, get people out in the car park having a go on a bike, just watch their faces! It’s amazing, you can see their inner child coming out!

R&M staff going for a ride at lunchtime

I’d urge other organisations to sign up, especially in Southampton, because we have a responsibility to look after the health of our staff and our environment… and cycling does both of these things! It doesn’t cost much, and it makes people happier, better workers. It’s a no brainer! When I cycle to work, I arrive refreshed and ready for the day, when I drive (which takes longer!) I arrive stressed and in a bad mood! Just get people cycling, and lead by example!

R&M’s Cycle September certificate

Find out more and register at

Cycle September: The Global Bike Challenge

Phew! That was an epic Cycle September. This year we stepped things up, turning our flagship Workplace Cycle Challenge into the Global Bike Challenge for the first time.

And the results were spectacular: 57,162 people from 1,965 workplaces logged a ride, including 3,780 people who hadn’t ridden a bike at all – or only a few times – in the last twelve months. Altogether, Cycle September participants clocked up over 9.5 MILLION miles, saving more than 325,000kg of CO2 (that’s the equivalent of twenty-five return flights from Edinburgh to Auckland).

We had 757 prizewinners who were rewarded for riding or encouraging others to ride and thousands of people helped to build a real buzz for biking by sharing their stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our new – and very, very popular – Stories feature:

People are using our Stories feature to find and share inspiring cycling stories

We’ll be sending out surveys to everyone who took part during the week commencing Monday 21 October. Please look out for this in your inbox – our members’ responses will help us to run even bigger and better events in 2020 and after! (Plus you can win some amazing prizes for responding…).

Finally, a huge thank you to our wonderful partners and sponsors for supporting our events and helping to get more people on bikes. We salute you! Ribble, Haka Tours, Proviz, Loffi, Street Team, LiteLok, Cyclehoop and the wonderful Beryl.*

If you missed out on the Global Bike Challenge this year, make sure you hear about our exciting plans for 2020 by signing up with Love to Ride today at

*To mark the clocks going back in the UK, we’ll be giving away a Beryl Laserlight to one lucky winner each day Monday to Thursday (21-24th October) next week. One survey respondent will also win a Laserlight (we’ll also be giving away 5x Loffi Gloves and a £600 Ribble voucher)