Feature: Women’s Team Series Enters its 12th Year

Prolific organiser of Women’s races Jon Miles looks at how women’s racing has changed as the Women’s Team Series enters its 12th year

March 7: For as long as I have been involved with cycling, as a rider first, and then on the end of a camera or keyboard, Jon Miles has been organising races for women, commissairing or involved in a Women’s racing team. At the weekend, Jon and his team, Squadra Donne sponsored by Shutt VR clothing, were presented to media and sponsors before the girls tackle a season of women’s racing in Britain.

VeloUK asked Jon to give his thoughts on Women’s racing and in this feature we also have details of the Women’s Series events and links to related articles.

Bedford Two Day (Team Series) – closed roads at Millbrook, full field of riders and sunhine… what a mix that was last year!

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Jon writes … As the Women’s Team Race Series enters its 12th year, it is worthwhile to take stock to see how much women’s racing has changed in that time. When the Team Series started with just three races in the year 2000, there were no women’s teams at all, most clubs would have racing women in them but generally it was individuals entering and racing. The concept of the Team Series changed all that – and changed women’s racing forever, thrusting it into a new era and ways of doing things.

It was the right format at the right time and I think it still has the same values as those early races.

The Team Series has introduced more women to cycle racing, has raised the profile of women’s racing, has introduced more women’s cycle races to the calendar and increased the prize money available to women riders and these are all things we can be proud of. Frankly, the Team Series is now the premier series for women riders in this country with all the races hotly contested.

The Team Series continues to evolve with new races added on occasions and new teams are formed bringing more women into our great sport. Certainly the Team Series is now a major target as it is the only way to show which is the best women’s racing team in the country and its popularity continues to grow. It is now complemented by a series of races in Regions newly introduced by Jenny Gretton at the BCF that will prepare new riders for what is required when they race in larger fields (more details below).

The thrill of the descent, one of many skills worth practising before getting into a race situation. 

For far too long women’s racing has been an after thought with no real structure in this country but not before time, this is now being properly addressed. What has been the norm in Europe for so many years will now become normal in this country. It has been hard and frustrating at times that it has taken so long for real progress to be made in women’s racing but I think we are on the way now so it will be interesting to see how the new race calendar works out with the addition of these local races.

Of course, a wonderful addition will be seeing a World Champions jersey on the roads of this country. I am looking forward to Lucy Garner (Node 4 – Giordana,) riding British races and what a tremendous sight that will be. Plus of course we have the Halfords Tour Series on television which is a great boost for sponsors of women’s teams.

From the small beginnings so many years ago, the women’s racing scene in this country has never been better and I view each new season with excitement; from the maximum race entry of 35 riders in 2000, we now have full fields with reserves, something unthought-of a few years ago.

We really do have a very healthy racing scene now and I can only see it getting better. Okay, there are still some things that remain the same which is a concern such as the coverage women’s racing receives in our sports magazines which most of the time is pathetic and does poor service to the advertisers in these magazines – women do actually have a disposable income but they are almost a lost section if they are so ignored by the cycling press – and so lost to the advertisers.

There are not enough women on the boards of Regions or as Commissaires still and I would like to see greater movement with these two parts. However, it is true that there are more women racing now than ever before, there are more races for them with more prize money coming into the sport, more sponsored teams and so greater opportunity than ever before but that does not mean we can sit back content, there is still much to do”.

Riding in a bunch looks easy but there is quite a lot to it before a rider can truly feel at ease .. practice makes perfect!

How do you get involved? – we asked Jon that too!
Jon explained that there are two ways of getting involved in the Team Series. One is to be part of a team (see below) or if part of a club or a team that has only one or two women in it, or a private member of British Cycling, then you can enter the Women’s Team Series races and be part of a composite team wearing a generic jersey that will be provided.

Jon goes on to say “getting into cycle racing can be a daunting prospect (and certainly has been in the past) however with the new planned races for lower category riders set up in the four main regions, it is so much easier now to get involved (details of races this weekend below).

As a club rider, you will be able to enter these races individually to get used to racing in a bunch and also to get the experience to ride the bigger races – remember even the top riders started just like you – a novice.

It is crucial that you get experience in these smaller races before the next step which is the Women’s Team Race Series, (details below of each round).

Although the Team Series still welcomes all categories of riders, you will find it to be a higher level than local races and so needs a higher level of bike handling skills before you will feel comfortable taking on the bigger fields that are attracted to the Team Series. I do feel that to get the most from your racing, you must feel that you have the skill to be part of the bigger races.

While you can ride the Team Series races as part of a composite team, either because you are private member of British Cycling or the only woman in a club, there is another option – being part of a team. You could look for a team in the area that you live in which is registered to race the Team Series and that will make travelling to races easier with riders you will know each race; being with a team is such a nice feeling too!

With the new season about to start, I know you are keen to get ‘stuck in’ so do it – enter a local Regional race and learn all you can about riding in a bunch, talk to experienced riders over a cup of tea after the race, ask what mistakes to avoid, where to be in the bunch – and that is NEVER on the right hand side on the open road – and get that confidence.
You have paid the same entry fee, travelled to the race, you have done the hard training, now start the race and enjoy the greatest sport there is”.

Preparing Yourself for the Team Series
For those wanting to benefit from training sessions designed for women, Jenny Gretton has been organising some in Manchester which have been very successful with upwards of 20 or 30 women turning up for them where they have learnt skills that many experienced riders will take for granted. Other sessions around the country are already in the pipeline. You can contact Jenny at British Cycling.

Racing this weekend (March 10/11):

SACA/Wallis Cycles Spring Series Event 1
WHEN: Sat, 10th Mar
WHERE: Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Salt Ayre Lane, LANCASTER, Lancashire, LA1 5JS
STARTS: 1.30pm
DISTANCE: Women 45 mins +5 | Men 1hr + 5
ENTRY: Entry on the day only. £10.00
CONTACT: Mr Neville Pearson, 38 Ashford Road, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA1 4QA, npearson13@yahoo.co.uk

Tameside Season Starters Race 1
WHEN: Sun, 11th Mar
WHERE: Tameside Cycle Circuit, Richmond Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, OL7 9HG
STARTS: 10am
DISTANCE: 4th cat 50 mins | Women 50 mins
ENTRY: £10.00
CATEGORIES: 4th cat men | E/1/2/3/4/J Women
CONTACT: Jennifer Gretton, jennygretton@britishcycling.org.uk

March Racing Calendar – click here

Other articles of interest:
Women racing in Men’s road racesKarla Boddy looks at her expereince

Women racing in Youth events

Other Racing Opportunities in 2012 for Women (a few ideas!)

10th March 2012 North West SACA/Wallis Cycles Spring Series 1
11th March 2012 North West Tameside Season Starters 1
17th March 2012 North West SACA/Wallis Cycles Spring Series 2
18th March 2012 North West Tameside Season Starters 2
24th March 2012 North West SACA/Wallis Cycles Spring Series 3
25th March 2012 North West Tameside Season Starters 3
31st March 2012 North West SACA/Wallis Cycles Spring Series 4

17th March 2012 East Midlands Barkston Heath Circuit Race
21st April 2012 East Midlands Barkston Heath Circuit Race
6th May 2012 East Midlands Flower Festival Crits – Spalding
19th May 2012 East Midlands Thoresby Park Festival of Cycling
10th June 2012 East Midlands Yarborough Circuit Race
1st July 2012 East Midlands Barkston Heath Circuit Race
5th August 2012 East Midlands Yarborough Circuit Race
9th September 2012 East Midlands Barkston Heath Circuit Race

South West
21st May 2012 South West East Devon Circuit Race Series 1
11th June 2012 South West East Devon Circuit Race Series 2
18th June 2012 South West East Devon Circuit Race Series 3
2nd July 2012 South West East Devon Circuit Race Series 4
9th July 2012 South West East Devon Circuit Race Series 5
15th July 2012 South West South West Women’s Stage Race

South East
10th March 2012 Eastern March Hare
17th March 2012 Central MK Early Season Bowl Series 1
18th March 2012 South East Surrey League RR
24th March 2012 Central MK Early Season Bowl Series 2
24th March 2012 Eastern Eagle Road Club Spring Races
31st March 2012 Central Beyond Spring Crits 2
6th April 2012 Eastern Eagle Road Club Good Friday Team Series
18th April 2012 Central West Thames Masters and Womens Series

The Women’s Team Series for 2012 (http://www.teamseries.co.uk/)

ROUND 1: Eagle Road Club Good Friday Circuit Races
WHEN: Friday, 6 April
WHERE: Redbridge Cycle Circuit, Forest Road, Fairlop, Redbridge, IG6 3HP
STARTS: 2.15pm
DISTANCE: 1 hour
ENTRY: £12 or £14 EoL
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: londonbaldwin@gmail.com

ROUND 2: Twickenham CC Dave Peck Memorial Ladies Race
WHEN: Sunday, 15th Apr 2012
WHERE: Virginia Water Football Club
Crown Road, Virginia Water, Surrey, GU25 4HS
STARTS: 11am
DISTANCE: 85 kilometres (53 miles)
ENTRY: £20
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: Lisa West lisa.west@amlin.co.uk

ROUND 3: 2 Days of Bedford Women’s International Stage Race
WHEN: Sunday, 6th of May/Monday 7th of May
WHERE: Day 1: Keysoe (Nr Bedford) | Day 2: Millbrook Vehicle Testing Centre, MK45 2JQ
DISTANCE: Varies (4 stages) 7.4km TTT | 80km RR | 6km TT | 85km RR
ENTRY: Postal £37 | EoL £40
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: Jon Miles jonmiles99@ntlworld.com

ROUND 4: Women’s Team Series 6-up Team Time Trial
WHEN: May 13
WHERE: Lavenham Village Hall, Church Street, Lavenham, Suffolk, CO10 9QT
ENTRY: £16
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: ginohowe@hotmail.co.uk

ROUND 5: Oakley Village Road Races
WHEN: July 7
WHERE: Oakley Village Hall, Oxford Road, Oakley, Buckinghamshire, HP18 9RD
STARTS: 11.15am
DISTANCE: 85km/53 miles
ENTRY: £16 (EoL £18)
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: Scott Holmes cnc500@aol.com

ROUND 6: Duncan Murray Wines Road Race
WHEN: Sunday, 22 July
WHERE: Naseby Village Hall, Haselbeach Road, Naseby, Northamptonshire, NN6 6DE
STARTS: 1.10pm
DISTANCE: 80km/50 miles
ENTRY: £16 (EoL £21)
CATEGORIES:Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: Raymond Taylor captpopup@aol.com

ROUND 7: Auchterlonie Memorial Womens RR
WHEN: Sunday 5 August
WHERE: Builth Wells Sports Centre, College Road, Builth Wells, Powys, LD2 3BU
STARTS: 10.30am
DISTANCE: 100km/62.5 miles)
ENTRY: £20
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: Stephen Thomas thomassj2@yahoo.co.uk

ROUND 8: John Hinksman Memorial Circuit Races
WHEN: Saturday, 25 August
WHERE: Darley Moor Sports Centre, A515, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 2ET
DISTANCE: 55km/34 miles
ENTRY: £13 (EoL £16)
CATEGORIES: Women E/1/2/3/4
CONTACT: Arthur Gamble, 14 Commonside, Selston, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG16 6FJ

ROUND 9: Coalville RR
WHEN: Sunday 9 September
WHERE: Leicestershire


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