Team Glow has is now affiliated to the Cycling Time Trials Assocation - this basically means that paying members can sign up to ride in time trials, listing Team Glow as their affiliated club. Some time trials are open, meaning that anyone can ride, but the vast majority require riders to be a member of an affiliated club. So on your starting block, head down and off you go!
Just want to say thankyou. These are my commuting miles so far, and I would NEVER have had the guts or the confidence to try cycling into work if it wasn't for Glow (especially Glynis Francis' training!) I feel like it's really helping my fitness and my cycling in general too - I am definitely not that same girl who struggled at 12mph when she first started!
It all started last year when Martine Tommis and Sarah Griffiths signed up to ride the 2013 Fred and Glynis Francis and her grandson Eden signed up as volunteers. Where some lead others follow and a group of Glows, organised by Carol Bradshaw, decided to do the route of the Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge over 2 days, staying at a couple of hostels along the way. It was hard cycling but great fun and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. So, when the opportunity to enter the real event came up, we cashed in our two free volunteering places and Glynis negotiated another 5 special entries and my name went on the list.
A wee bit of background - the event was started by the Lakes Road Club in memory of their most active member, Fred Whitton who died at the age of 50 in 1998.
In January this year, a few Glows (different to those on the weekend last year) were ‘lucky’ enough to receive places in the event, starting and finishing at Grasmere (famous for the Gingerbread Shop). Glows doing the event, with the superb roadside support of Ange Hilton, included Sarah Roberts, Sophie Yarwood, Karen Harper, Sian Lambert, Helen Ryan, Ruth Ward, Heather Riding, Claire Fordham and me.
The event is always oversubscribed and the 2000 places are a lottery. During the months leading up to the event on Sunday 11th May 2014, we had a Facebook Conversation about the training rides being undertaken, what to take, what to wear, where to stay, where to eat etc. I called it the ‘Fred Fret’ – and basically it left me feeling terrified but definitely not alone! Reading the organisers description of the event was off-putting – with all the warnings e.g. “Honister Pass – descent starts extremely steeply, so brakes on immediately and don’t let your speed get up – very poor surface and a chicane” and “Hardknott Pass – ultra steep and twisty and very poor surface so take it REALLY slowly”.
By early April I was totally terrified, probably exacerbated by Facebook conversations and hearing how terribly difficult the challenge is. Also, in order not to be disqualified we had to be 60 miles in, at Braithwaite, by 12 noon and 83 miles in at Calder Bridge by 3.30pm. So, there was no choice but to start at 6am.
When the alarm went off before 5am I sprang out of bed to meet the first challenge of the day - breakfast at such an early hour (for me). Thankfully, no dogs to walk today. Arriving perhaps a little early at what had been, the day before, a water logged event car park in Grasmere on a sports field, I sat in the car looking at the rain lashing down and wondered if my pals would notice if I didn’t show up. “No, Cunliffe, we are here now, (after some not inconsiderable effort) just shut up, woman up and get ready. You have cycled in atrocious conditions before” (said the parrot who sat on my shoulder the whole journey).
The basic outline of the route - a five mile flat-ish warm up southwards through Ambleside. Then sharp left turn and a rude awakening up ‘The Struggle’ to ascend the Kirkstone Pass and down to Keswick, over Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose Passes to the finish in Grasmere.
Met the girls, some of whom looked decidedly nervous. It stopped raining (temporarily). We wished each other luck and crossed the start line at just gone 6am. Right girl, no going back, well, not until the 60 mile marker, when the cut off time is missed. Best thing is to find someone to chat to – whilst you still can! Trundled up Kirkstone Pass and flew down the other side, losing the others en route. A girl overtook me so decided to catch her up. She seemed glad of a bit of company. She had started 30 minutes after me so was obviously faster, so a good person to stay with, if possible. The next few miles were spent trying to stay with her then, to my surprise, dropping her on steep bits. Then I was overtaken as I stopped to remove my boil-in-a-bag waterproof jacket.
Attempts to wheel suck various male cyclists along the A66 were reasonably successful and essential given the headwind through Keswick at some unearthly hour.
Sailed along the beautiful Borrowdale Valley, but concerned about constant rattle coming from my machine. Then came the decidedly sudden and rude steepness which is the near vertical ascent of Honister Pass. Others were floundering. Weaving. Visiting the verges. (Parrot - “don’t even think about putting a foot down, we can do this). Okay. Done. Jeepers, the descent. Hold on tight (Parrot – “outside leg down, weight back, look where you want/need to go and steer”). Okay. Overtaking other riders – there’s a first and a good feeling!
First feed station – phew, needed that. 60 miles is quite a distance before re-fuelling, good job it wasn’t hot. Bike check – nothing obviously wrong, can’t source the rattle. Well I appear to be here HOURS before the cut off point, so better carry on.
Then came the long, slow ascent of Newlands Pass, followed by Winlatter Pass. Here supporters lined the road, yelling words of encouragement. Particularly enjoyed the “go on girls” from the women. No fear here, just enjoyment. The middle bit, taking in the marvellously named ‘Fangs’, Swarth Fell and Cold Fell provided opportunity to admire the beauty of the countryside – especially the extremely brightly coloured spring flowers. Rain came then stopped, came then stopped. Decided to leave off the heat-inducing and draining waterproof jacket and risk it as cold was not an issue. Wet trickles down the backs of legs were a bit distracting.
Second feed station – bikes abandoned on the tarmac. Rows of delicious looking sarnies and cakes. Hot drinks. Sobbing female who complained to her man that she wasn’t as fast as she hoped. Time to go, me thinks, knowing full well there is torture ahead. Uumm, not pleasant this bit. Getting nervous. Why? Can always push and the cleat covers are in back pocket. (Parrot – don’t even think about it). Start chatting to a chap going at my pace. He did it last year and kindly told me not to be nervous. Red telephone box comes into sight, road winds steeply up mountainside ahead, dotted with cyclists. Over cattle grid. Right Cunliffe, this is what the training has been for – GO!!
The ascent of Hardknott Pass was a bit of a blur. Can’t believe this but I actually encouraged a pusher to get back on his bike – why could I even speak? Grind, crunch, puff. Up we go – 30%+ in places. Loads of yelling from supporters. Brilliant. At top, marshall advises me to be careful as there is an incident a 3rd of the way down. Brakes on. Look ahead. Ambulance. 2 dead bikes. Tarpaulin over riders. Very, very scared. Hairbin bends (lots), 30% descents, hold tight. A couple of girls on foot said “Well done that, lady” as I successfully negotiated an excruciatingly tight and steep hairbin, in true mountain bike style. (Parrot – you have just got to do it).
As gradient lessened I felt elation and enjoyed the valley between the two worst passes. Another cyclist said I would be over Wrynose Pass before I had noticed (what was he on!?). On the final steepest part before the summit a young girl saw I was in danger of slowing down to a stop and walked/ran alongside me offering encouragement. How could I stop with her doing her best for me? Sadly, no breath to thank her. But it worked.
Some thoughtful organiser had put a sign saying “10 miles to the finish) just after the summit. Brilliant. The heavens opened. Torrential. Sally and Parrot both agreed - “Let’s go – FAST”. So we did. Taking no prisoners. All the way to the Grasmere finish along a busy main road – absolutely drenched. Ange who was waiting for all of us said ‘you look like you have just popped out to the shops’! Elated! It was really good watching the others arrive back safely and then we went off to stand in the ultra long queue to collect the ‘Certificate’.
The Good Bits
The Next Challenge
Given the chance – try again next year to improve on the time.
Distance – 112 miles
Ascent – 3950 meters
Total time – 8 hours 51 mins
Position – 4th woman out of 21 in my age group
Position – 24th woman out of 104 women finishers in total.
Photos by Steve Fleming and Racing Snakes (and Sally Cunliffe and Ange Hilton!).
Well what better day was there for 8 women from Glow to come along to a women only ride leaders course.
The course was kindly put on by Bike Right! at a much reduced cost and team Glow subsidised this further from membership funds to create more opportunity for women getting out on rides.
The course content is a collaboration between Team Glow and Bike Right to help women prepare to ride lead for Glow. Glynis Francis and Bike Right formed a great partnership to provide an excellent grounding for ride leaders in the true spirit Team Glow which invites it's members to 'give what you can and take what you need'. What's more is was a fun too.
It was a fabulous day and one I was proud to be part of organising. I had a fall off my bike in late July 2013 which resulted in a pelvic fracture and has unfortunately kept me off the bike for quite a while so it was a real pleasure to get involved in this and keep my love for the sport and being part of Team Glow well and truly alive.
The Glows who came along were able to explore the challenges of ride leading, look at safety and responsible cycling in groups and had the challenge of mapping and on a practical level leading a ride in the vicinity of Bike Right, not easy on those busy roads but they rose to the challenge and did us proud.
It was fabulous to be a part of inspiring women to inspire women to get out and cycle on International Women's Day especially. I'm sure they will all be brilliant ride leaders and Team Glow members will benefit enormously as we hope to be in a position to organise more rides than ever for women in 2014. Happy cycling to you all and long may you Glow.
24 of us are currently preparing for our trip to Mallorca in April and some of us will be strutting our stuff on Sa Calobra, a 684 metre (2244 ft) climb as part of a bigger 100 k (60 miles) cycle ride with a total of 2000 metres (6560 ft) of climbing.
2000 metres of up also means 2000 metres of down......wayheytogo.
BIG GLOW GIRLS DAY OUT!
Starting with the climbs in Simon Warren's two books 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs and Another 100 Greatest Climbs - a road cyclist's guide to Britain's Hills we have ticked off 83 between us over the past 12 months. Not satisfied with just bagging climbs in GB some of us have ventured off our small island into Europe and...DEFIED GRAVITY on another 35 climbs. This brings our 2013 challenge to a close and its now time to share in the GLOWING glory of our collective achievement. Well done cycling sisters....(and PS please let us know if we have missed you or a climb off the list - it would be so good to get a bit closer to 100 named women)
If you want to see where some of the climbs are take a look at https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=217853124336013030166.0004ceb81c53165270fa8
Track cyclist Glynis Francis wins gold at the World Master’s Track Championships and her very proud grandchildren joined her on the podium here at Manchester Velodrome, October 6th, National Grandparent Day!
Glynis achieved her 500m time trial in 41.3 secs at a speed of 43.5km/h with the roaring support of a home crowd. Her goal is to be the ‘fastest 60 year old grandma in the world’ and set a new world record in 2014.That record is currently 42 seconds so she is right on target to beat that next year.
Glynis, founder of Team Glow, Manchester’s Women Cycling Network is on a mission to attract more women to take part in the championships which this year attracted riders from 24 different countries. The championships are here in Manchester at the velodrome for the next 3 years – right on our doorstep! If you feel inspired contact Glynis firstname.lastname@example.org
This week I received a gift from Adidas – a yellow cycling jacket. The message in the package said ‘In our sport, the colour yellow represents excellence, courage and achievement. Even though only a small amount of us will lead a grand tour, we want to celebrate the success of the everyday cycling hero. You have been hand selected for your commitment and dedication to the sport’. How wonderful is that! As I wear my jacket with pride I will raise a cheer and celebrate the success of all our ride leaders and riders that have helped change the face of cycling for women in the NW – glow girls GLOW.
GLOW IN NUMBERS
As of July we have:-
· 320 Facebook friends, (that is twice as many as July 2012) and we have
· 72 investing members giving us currently
· £1600 reserves to benefit members. We have
· 200+ followers on Twitter and on average
· 100 visits a day to our website. Of our 72 paying members
· 32 of those women are ride leaders and have led over
· 60 rides since Oct 2012 and only cancelled 2 rides due to extreme weather conditions
· 1 National Masters Track Champion 500m Time Trial
· Lost count of the numbers of new bikes or old ones dusted down making their first trip with us and all the number of miles we have cycled together
GLOW HILL CHALLENGE 2013
Our challenge for this year is to see if we could get 100 women to collectively ‘bag’ 100 of the greatest climbs in Britain. Autumn Barlow wrote a feature in the May issue of Cycling Active attracting cycling sisters the SE and SW who have since joined us in our challenge. So far we have 54 women bagging 55 of Simon Warren’s greatest climbs. We might struggle to reach 100 women/100 climbs this year but we are not beaten yet and in our favour lots more women are less fearful of hills and in fact some go a long way out of their way to find more. This year we have had:-
· 30 women rode the Cat and Fiddle in February and featured in the article
· 2 women complete the Fred Whitton and another
· 5 women do the Four Season Fred Whitton
· 6 women finished the Cheshire Cat Sportive including the ‘Killer Mile’
· 3 women tackled the Marmotte
· 6 women broke the back of the Whole/Half Hog
· 1 woman go Trans Pyrenees
· 7 women nailed Sa Calobra, Mallorca
· Lots of women glowing from riding up local hills be that Thorley Lane, Tatton Wall or Artist Lane and the Wizard
Well done to us all for whatever has been ‘our’ challenge this year.
GLOW SKILLS AND WISDOM
Our Face Book page is really well used and the quality of response to women wanting help with bikes, bodies and equipment is expanding with our collective experience and knowledge. There’s also a growing Garmin user’s network making ride leading and sharing routes easier and easier and then some fab techies out there introducing state of the art mapping and route storage systems. We love you.
Five of us, Helen E, Autumn, Emma, Ursula and Glynis are now qualified as National Cycling Instructors and Sarah Griffiths is our first Glow to complete a Level 2 cycling coaching certificate. Ursula recently completed her City and Guilds in Cycle Maintenance with Bike Right!
New kit is on its way in time for the Manchester 100 Sportive on the 1st September thanks to Joanna Watson and her perseverance in working with Endura. We will also carry a small supply of jerseys and gilets for new comers. Plus we are also the co-parents of Lezyne, she is a mini foot pump with gauge to be borrowed for GLOW tours.
Here is around up of the year so far – check out the Glow blog for write ups (& feel free to contribute your own adventures).
· March – 1st Women’s Social History Cycle Tour
· March - Beginners cycle tours – Cheshire Cycle Way
· April – Hadrian’s Wall
· April – Tour of Mallorca
· May - Lon Las, Cwyru North
· June – 2nd Women’s Social History Cycle Tour
· June - Tour of Snowden
SPORTIVES, AUDAX and RACES
· April/May - Four Seasons Fred Whitton
· May - Cycletta Cheshire
· May - Fred Whitton
· May - Whole and Half Hog
· June - Marmotte
· June - Great Manchester Cycle
· June – National Masters Track Championships
· July - Cheshire Cat
· August – Wild Wales Challenge
· Sept – Manchester 100
· Bike and body maintenance weekend as part of Manchester’s Wonder Women week
· Bike handling provided by Sarah Griffiths
· Tameside Circuits session for women
· Track – first time the track has seen so many women at once – we are still making history!
· Hills and speed – Sarah Roberts and Ange Hilton
· Learning to Love Distance (information evening and training ride) with Christine Evans and Nadia Kerr
WOMEN OF THE NORTH WEST UNITE – WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT OUR CHAINS
Following correspondence over the past two years with Brian Cookson, President of British Cycling regarding the lack of women on the BC board and lack of development in cycling for women we are pleased to see their strategy launched in the spring to address both those issues. Kay Butler and I met with British Cycling’s national lead Jill Putnam and Natalie Justice (Breeze manager) to offer our help and share our wish for the NW to be an exemplary region in the development of women’s cycling. Our first contribution was a quick audit of existing women’s cycling groups in the NW. We counted 15 groups (excluding Breeze) with a combined membership of approximately 1000 women - 1000 women being ‘bold on a bicycle’ in the NW – nothing short of a revolution!
On the strength of the strategy and intention to develop women’s cycling the steering group have agreed to register and affiliate Team Glow to British Cycling. This means members with a license will be able to race in the name of Team Glow.
2013 GLOW ANNUAL RIDE AND SOCIAL EVENT
Members will be celebrating our year of cycling over the weekend of 18th – 20th October at Ilam Hall Youth Hostel, Derbyshire. Women are offering to lead A – D rides on both Saturday and Sunday and evening of celebration on Saturday. Our group booking is now complete but feel free to book as an individual directly with the hostel phone 01335350212 and let me know 07780900811. Exciting rides and entertainment planned!
LOOKING AHEAD … ….. 2014 CALENDAR
April – GLOW touring and training in Mallorca after 19th April
May - Team Glow has two free places on the Fred Whitton, Sunday 11th May 2014. If you and a girlfriend are interested please let me have your names by the end of November. The free places will be picked out of a hat. The organisers are keen to support more women take on this challenge and will do their best to offer places to women. Martine’s advice is to apply in a team of 4. Entry details will be on their website in early December. If riding this is not for you, there is a need for volunteers and in doing so you can earn free places for other GLOWS for 2015!!!
July –Grand Depart of Tour de France 5th- 6th
September – Manchester 100 Sportive 7th ??
October – Glow annual ride and social event 17th – 19th??
Glynis Francis, founder of Team Glow
on behalf of the steering group
30 July 2013
has the velodrome ever seen such a wonderful bunch of women before......i think we made history last night!