A new female cycling team is racing ahead of the pack – aiming to break down barriers blocking women from the sport.
The group, which is made up of members from across Sheffield and the surrounding areas, started as a Facebook page and is now competing in races across the country.
It aims to help women progress from club riding to racing, and make the pastime more accessible for women.
Team manager Denise Bayliss, aged 49, of Walkley, said: “It has always been a dream of mine to run a women’s team, having been cycling for over 30 years with several male-run clubs in Yorkshire.
“I was more than happy to sponsor the team with my company and help other women in what is still very much a male dominated sport.
“The concept is to provide a stepping stone for women to progress into racing if they wish and then through the racing categories, while keeping the experience friendly and supportive.
“We are here to prove you can have a full-time job and family life as well as compete at a high level in what is a tough, competitive sport.”
The group, which has 28 members across a wide age range, holds regular social and beginners’ rides as well as joining competitive events and duathlons, and has won several time trials.
It is expecting another influx of members as Tour de France fever takes hold, and is encouraging anybody interested to get in touch.
Member Ann Walsham, of Chesterfield, married to former pro rider Mark Walsham, added: “When I was racing as a schoolgirl there just weren’t many females and you really only came up against them at events.
“I remember spending a lot of time training alone or trying to keep up with men.
“At times it was soul-destroying, and eventually I got fed up of getting a kicking and packed in racing at 18. Joining this group has transformed the way I feel about cycling.”
n Visit www.womenscyclingsheffield.co.uk