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Cycling - 08. March 2011.

International Women's Day: Closing the ‘Cycling Gap'

International Women's Day (IWD) is being celebrated today as hundreds of events are taking place across the country to mark the economic, political, social and sporting achievements of women. 2011 marks the 100th Anniversary of IWD and this year "sporting achievement by women and "access to sporting opportunities for women" are just two of the themes that have been explored by IWD conferences and events.

There is currently a gap between the levels of sports participation of men and women, with women participation in sport, down on that of men. Only 13% of women take part in 30 minutes of sport three times a week compared to 20% for men. Sport England data also shows that 30% of women take part in sport once a week whilst 37% do sport just once a month. Many would like to participate more but face barriers in becoming more active. British Cycling aims to help close the ‘cycling gap' by introducing:

The Women's Network: In May, British Cycling will launch a unique network of local bike rides for women. It will make it easier for more women to get out on a casual group bike ride. The new network of women-only rides is all about bike riding for fun, in small sociable groups, on local, accessible routes. Local ride champions will help other women to enjoy the fun, fresh air and freedom offered by bikes rides. The first courses are in April. To find out more email womensnetwork@britishcycling.org.uk

Cycletta: Supported by Sky and British Cycling, Cycletta offers the opportunity for women to take part in a women-only ‘sportive' - an event on closed roads. These first two events will combine a sportive with female focused entertainment and support including post-event massages. Cycletta North is in Cheshire on 26 June. Cycletta South is in London on 11 September. See www.cyletta.co.uk for more information.

Coaching and Leadership: British Cycling is committed to growing the number of female coaches, trainers and leaders at all levels. A recent call for women to train as ride leader tutors was oversubscribed.

Partnerships: British Cycling works closely with the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation and supports their work to encourage, enable and celebrate active women and girls. As the national governing body for cycling, British Cycling wants to work with range of partners who offer cycling opportunities, and create the conditions for more women and girls to get on their bikes.

British Cycling's Go-Ride initiative: Go-Ride provides cycling opportunities for under-16s, including Go-Ride Racing events and holiday coaching sessions, all equally popular with girls and boys. At the elite end of the sport, British women are the best in the world.

Events: The British Cycling event calendar includes many races for women. Many grass-roots cycle races have races specifically for women riders - mountain biking events, for example, run women specific races in all age and ability categories. Cyclo-Cross, BMX and Cycle Speedway are equally open and accessible to women. Many Closed Circuit events include women-only races and there is a national series for Women Road Racers.

Get into Cycling: To find out more about racing, visit our comprehensive guide to the sport of cycling. For cycling newcomers, we've also got a guide to some of the cycling basics which will help get you up and rolling!

Join British Cycling: with an extensive range of benefits for all cyclists, from saving cash on kit and exclusive ticket deals through to legal and insurance cover and our new "Cycle Rescue" scheme (which will get you home should you experience a problem whilst out on your bike) this is the best all-round membership package for cyclists. Find out more about joining British Cycling.

British Cycling's Recreation and Partnerships Director, Stewart Kellett said: "Almost three times as many men as women take part in regular recreational cycling and this gap is getting larger as male participation continues to increase. With the resources British Cycling has at its disposal and our track record of delivering successful recreational programmes such as Sky Ride (with principal partner Sky) we are more than hopeful that these initiatives can be a success. We have a great understanding of what works, how to respond to customers and how to help get new women into bike riding."
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