I promised to give you a bit more info about WERL, so here goes:
As a new cyclist in the Eastern Region, I found it very odd that there were so few women’s races in the region. In 2012, discounting national level races, there was a grand total of one women-only race in the region, outside the M25. Yes 1, that wasn’t a typo.
Also, the number of women racing in the region compared to other regions, was very small. Hardly surprising when you think about it:
Female cyclist: “I fancy having a go at racing”
Cyclist no. 2: “that’s great!”
Female cyclist: “so, where’s my nearest race?”
Cyclist no. 2: “Redbridge cycling centre – they have lots of racing there”
Female cyclist: “but that’s over 100miles away!”
Cyclist no. 2: “You could wait until next May – Ixworth has a ladies crit race”
Female cyclist, after some research: “So I have to wait 11 months and still have to race in with men? – what about a road race?”
Cyclist no. 2: “They have road races as part of SERRL, in the South East”
Female cyclist: “So I’ll have to travel at least 150 miles and pay to sign up to a league.”
Cyclist no. 2: “yep”.
Female cyclist: “But I might not even like it! Maybe I’ll just stick to time trials.”
Hmmm… Thankfully, things changed dramatically in 2013, when we had 16 women-only races. This included a new road race series of 5 races at Elveden (sadly not able to continue in 2014 due to costs – more on this in a minute), the Suffolk Cycle Racing Series including women’s only racing, one at RAF Woodbridge and a new road race put on by East London Velo amongst others.
So, it’s starting to come together, but a) it’s mainly circuit races and b) to help potential new female racers, I felt that we needed a focal point. A source of information and somewhere to go, on the internet. After researching what the men have, and what women have elsewhere in the UK, what we were missing, is a league.
This also links in with The Women’s Tour and the level of elite women’s racing. A league will help to encourage more local level races and riders and provide a stepping stone for those wanting to move from local racing to elite level. As well as numerous other benefits for women’s cycling that I don’t want you to bore about.
In the East, we already have a league called ERRL (East Region Road Race League). but this is male dominated and the league forbids women-only events, thereby reducing us to racing against men. Fair play, it’s open and not sexist, but definitely not equal, and doesn’t encourage women to have a go. We could have set up a league for women within ERRL, just like they do in the South East. Afterall, everything’s already in place! Believe me, I went there, I tried. The outcome? We are setting up a completely separate league for women.
Invitations to race organisers will be going out shortly and the website (currently no content) will start to be updated – http://www.womenseasternracingleague.co.uk we also have a twitter feed @WERLeague and a facebook page: Women’s Eastern Racing League. Come join the fun!
The really exciting thing is – we now have at least 2 road races as part of the league, both of which will be new to 2014. One organised by Ipswich Bicycle Club, and the other, organised by Ken Jolliffe – the organiser of Elveden, who is keen to do more for women!
Anyway, things are looking up for us lady cyclists in the region. To reward you for making it through this whole marathon of a blog post: Here’s a sneak preview of the WERL logo (still subject to approval – it really is sneaky!)