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Double Olympic champion to launch new women-only cycling sportive

19 January 2017

Joanna Rowsell Shand MBE.

Middleton's double Olympic gold medal-winning and World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell Shand MBE is championing a female-only cycling event in Rochdale this Spring.

Joanna, one of best British track racers of her generation and a key member of the British Cycling and Team GB squads, is supporting 'Ride Rochdale' – a brand new event organised by us together with, Link4Life and Tim Kelly Cycling Coach.

Over 300 women are expected to take part on Sunday, 21 May 2017, with the day featuring a choice of 2 rides.

'Blackstone Vale' is a 45-mile route with 4,500 feet of climbing, while 'Blackstone Vale and Moor' is a 75-mile challenge with 8,000 feet of climbing. Both take their names from Blackstone Edge in Littleborough which will feature in the early part of the scenic courses, and the event is supported by British Cycling.

Councillor Janet Emsley, our cabinet member for culture, health and wellbeing said:

"This new event reflects a growing demand for women only cycling rides, with something for those relatively new to riding as well as more experienced cyclists looking for a challenge. The scenery on the routes is absolutely stunning. Places are limited this year, but if this proves popular we will look at increasing our capacity in 2018."

Joanna Rowsell Shand MBE, one of Team GB's stars of the Rio Olympics who regularly trains in the borough's countryside, said:

"I love the scenery the Pennines have to offer, this is a beautiful part of the world and perfect for exploring on 2 wheels. The views on these 2 routes are breathtaking and I'm really looking forward to it.   Ride Rochdale is a great way to get more women on their bikes and hopefully encourage anyone who was previously daunted by the idea of riding on the roads or taking on such a challenge to get together with a few friends and get involved … see you there!"

'The views on these 2 routes are breathtaking' 

Organiser Tim Kelly said that while lots more women are getting into road cycling, there is a gap in between social riding and more serious challenges:

"Some women are put off cycling by its traditions and male dominance, although whilst lots more women are getting into road cycling there's definitely a gap for many between social rides such as British Cycling's Breeze Network and more serious challenges or club membership.  I wanted to offer 2 rides that will provide an opportunity for female road cyclists to build confidence and step up to a new challenge, and others to showcase their strength."

Disabled riders are also invited to cycle routes around Kingsway Park Sports Centre during an accessible ride being staged on the same day, aimed at showing how cycling is for everyone.  National organisation Cycling Projects with Link4Life Rochdale Wheels for All will provide a broad range of accessible bikes for the event.

Joanna will join entrants at the start of the event, with both routes setting off from Kingsway Park Sports Centre.

Registration costs £20 for 'Blackstone Vale' and £25 for 'Blackstone Vale and Moor' and opens later this month. More information about Ride Rochdale.