A COURSE is being held to train leaders for women-only bike rides in a bid to get more ladies back on their saddles in Southampton.

The aim is to train up enough women who will then be able to organise and lead cycle groups around the city.

The training is being offered by British Cycling and My Journey Southampton who are on the hunt for new local Breeze champions in Southampton to take part in free training sessions.

Volunteers will be trained on the one-day ride leadership course on March 15 where there will also be a chance to meet other Breeze champions.

The certificate qualifies them to independently plan, deliver and promote rides to groups of women. In addition to free training, a Breeze kit, British Cycling Ride membership and support is provided.

The move has been backed by cycling instructor Dilys Gartside, pictured, who, as a Breeze champion herself, welcomed the scheme.

She said that a barrier for most women in taking up cycling was the perceived risk factor so to have instructors leading them on a safe route in an organised group would be more appealing to many women. She said: “With more of these ride leaders trained up it will encourage more women to get out cycling. To have the option of going out on these taster sessions in the company of other women with whom you can chat and network would be a big incentive.

“Cycling isn’t just for lycra-clad 20-year-olds, it is something that can be enjoyed by everyone. But women sometimes need an extra incentive to try something new particularly that they may have pre-conceived ideas about being risky.”

Natalie Justice, Women’s Network project manager for British Cycling, said: “We know thousands of women would like the opportunity to get out on their bikes, with like-minded people, socialise and make new friends. Breeze gives them the chance to do just that on their doorstep.”

Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Southampton City Council’s Cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “Thanks to the valuable ongoing partnership between the council, the My Journey team and British Cycling we are able to provide such a fantastic opportunity to all women in Southampton.

“I would like to encourage all ladies who feel comfortable on their bikes and are enthusiastic about helping other women get more active to take part in this course.”

Log on to breezebikerides.com.

More information about other training courses and cycling opportunities are available at myjourneysouthampton.com/cycle.