A club exclusive to women, Yorkshire Lass CC riders have a keen appetite for adventure
- Words: Maria David | Photos: Andy Jones
From: Wetherby, North Yorkshire
Meets: Sunday 9.30am from All Terrain Cycles; rides from other parts of Yorkshire also take place
Website: www.yorkshirelasscc.co.uk | Twitter: @YorkLass_CC
On a grey Sunday morning we meet at Wetherby, where rain is forecast. This has not dampened the spirits of the 30-odd women who have turned out. The bunch of jovial Yorkshire Lass CC riders, all in stylish royal blue club kit goes some way towards brightening things up.
Before hitting the road, the groups are organised according to ability, from the pacey moderate group, down to the leisurely ‘pootlers’. There is also a ‘twixt’ group — those that are stronger than the steady group but slower than the moderates.
As the club is known as Yorkshire Lass, this means that women come from a wide catchment area including York, Leeds, Harrogate and Hull. In the moderate group I talk to Angie Forster, originally from Merseyside, who has come over from Market Weighton, in East Yorkshire. She normally cycles the 20 miles to the meeting point, but as the weather is poor she has driven across.
“I am married to a Yorkshireman, which makes me an honorary Yorkshire Lass,” she jokes. “Yorkshire is priceless. There’s nowhere else I’d like to ride. I fell in love with the Dales when I did the Way of the Roses, and I enjoy riding in the Wolds too.”
Forster has done a number of long-distance rides, including Ride the Night in London, the Wolds Way, and the Tour de Yorkshire sportive. It all started three years ago when she took part in a 100km charity bike ride in aid of Friedreich’s Ataxia, after her sister died from the disease. At that point she became hooked, and stepped up from being a commuter cyclist to becoming a club rider.
Taking up the challenge
In the twixt group I meet Jane Boylan, who has participated in challenge rides in the UK and abroad. The 63-year-old says, “I joined Yorkshire Lass CC as a way to push myself a bit more than I would when going by myself. I’ve been cycling for years, and do it to keep fit and lose weight.
“I really enjoy challenge rides abroad as it’s the chance to see scenery that you wouldn’t see any other way. I rode in Vietnam last year. It was 500km over five days on flat roads, but riding in 36 degrees made it challenging!” That is quite a contrast to the current conditions as we pass through the Vale of York.
The weather forecast hasn’t deterred riders as we see many along the lanes. One lone male randomly joins the moderate group. He doesn’t look the part, but he just about keeps up, even if he is not pointing out the holes in the road! Eventually the women gradually crank up the pace and unceremoniously drop him.
Soon, the threatening rain clouds dump a light shower onto us, but, thankfully, it is short-lived, and gives way to sunshine.
Today’s ride is less challenging than some of the other rides the Yorkshire Lasses do, partly because a few of them are taking part in a ride down the east coast of Brazil in a couple of weeks, and also group leader of the moderate group, Kate Horsfall, is just back after a chest infection.
Despite her condition, she comfortably sets a 16mph pace as the mainly flat route crests a few climbs around Angram and Askham Richard, then passes through the pretty village of Bilbrough.
Timing is everything, and our refreshment stop takes place at Thorp Arch, in the closing stages of the ride, in time for us to get a snack before returning to All Terrain Cycles ahead of the next
bout of rain.
The Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club was formed by Kate Horsfall and her friend Judith Worrall, who had both already been active members of local cycle clubs. They wanted to form a club that had all the elements of what they would like to see in a cycling club. This was sparked after Horsfall fell
off her bike during a ride with her old club, while she was getting used to riding clipless pedals.
A man who had joined the ride laughed at her when she hit the deck, and this left her annoyed
at his reaction, particularly as she had been putting in a lot of work to help encourage women to ride with the club.
Horsfall and Worrall put an advert on social media, inviting local women to join them for a ride one Sunday morning in March 2015. They feared hardly anyone would turn up, but to
their surprise 30 women turned out, and membership grew from there.
The club received help from Tony Booth, the manager of All Terrain Cycles, and the shop paid the registration fee needed to register Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club with British Cycling.
The club’s aim was to encourage women of all ages and abilities into cycling, particularly those who would otherwise have not joined a mixed club. Their jersey is now a well-known sight
in the region.
Last year Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club organised their first event, an all-women sportive held in the North York Moors. At this year’s event 600 women signed up, and £20,000 was raised for charity.
- Local rider Katy Marchant won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in the individual sprint at Rio 2016, and is an honorary member of the Yorkshire Lass Cycling Club.
- Most of the members focus on riding sportives and multi-day challenge rides, with a number of them having ridden from London to Paris, and completed the Tour de Mon in Anglesey.
- Angela Forster cycled from Newcastle to Edinburgh earlier this year.
- Jane Boylan cycled the length of the River Nile in 2015.
- Louise Murray recently cycled from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
Yorkshire Lass CC club run
1 Tockwith Road
The scene for the Battle of Marston Moor during in the English Civil War in 1644. Nowadays the sprint from here to Long Marston is a popular Strava battleground.
A quaint village with a church that dates back to Norman times. The Tour de France passed through here in 2014.
A place of significance for the Yorkshire Lasses as they stop here for mince pies and mulled wine when they do their Christmas fancy dress ride.
The Cafe and Bistro at Thorp Arch has a conservatory adjoining a patio and garden, accommodating large groups. There is a good selection of scones, cakes and buns to go with your coffee or tea. Whatever you decide to get, cyclists benefit from a discount. Thorp Arch Retail Park, Wetherby, LS23 7FE