Debbie Rycraft.

Two Peterborough women named amongst Top 100 UK Women in cycling

Two women from Peterborough have been nominated among the Top 100 Women in Cycling by national charity Cycling UK.

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 10:45 am

Debbie Rycraft and Sue Flower feature on the list, released by the UK’s cycling charity, for their work in encouraging women to cycle.

Also included on the list was Anna Williams from Cambridgeshire. She is the Communications and Community Officer for Camcycle. She has worked tirelessly to engage with the local community in Cambridgeshire, raising awareness of cycling stories, issues and experiences of the many different people who cycle or would like to cycle.

The Cambridgeshire trio join TV and film actress Maxine Peake, BBC Radio 4 presenter, Melanie Abbott and gold medal winners Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker in the cycling charity’s list recognising significant achievements in promoting women’s cycling. All of the women on the list have been honoured as part of Cycling UK’s Women’s Festival of Cycling which runs between 17 July and 1 August.

Debbie is the Head of Expo at the Tour of Cambridgeshire and also established Giro d’Abruzzo Tours and Active Edge Racing Team to help people improve their cycling skills, mental health and support riders with conditions such as eating disorders. She was advised by a surgeon to only cycle after being born with a condition that affects her muscles.

She said: “Born with a love for sport, but also with a condition that affected my muscles, by the age of eight, this condition acerbated, affecting my knees and I became disabled for three years. I then managed to walk again and continued with sport.

“In 2016, my surgeon suggested stopping all sports and just cycle. With this, my life changed. I started with cycling short distances, then cycling holidays and sportive’s.

“I competed in the Tour of Cambridgeshire, where I qualified to compete in the finals in the UCI world championships, Australia representing GB. Living in Thailand, I started racing and became the Thailand champion.

“While racing, I saw there was a need for a road race team which supported riders with their mental health, including eating disorders, so I formulated Active Edge Race Team, UK. We competed in the UK and International, with podium finishes.

“During which, I developed Giro d’Abruzzo, Cycling Tours, Italy and then Valley Escapes, Spain. Here, I help people improve their cycling skills, mental health, overall fitness, including helping a female get back on her bike after an accident, support professional injured riders in rehab and help families ride together.

“Due to the pandemic, in the UK I managed a bike shop, where I continue to help children who are just starting to cycle to novice/amateur teenagers to adult riders wanting to get into cycling.

Sue Flower is a Bikeability instructor and ride leader. Working for Peterborough City Council as a cycle instructor, she has spent years behind the scenes encouraging women of all ages and from all backgrounds to cycle. She was nominated for the list as one of the unsung heroes of cycle training.

She said: “I have been cycling since I was 25. I could cycle as a child but from 25 I have gone on bike rides with friends etc.

“I have lived in Peterborough for 25 years and done a lot of cycling here. The city is good for cycling with lots of cycle routes and we have the Green Wheel, an orbital route taking in the villages around Peterborough. We have had lots of family cycling holidays and my two children cycle regularly now.

“I have been teaching Bikeability in primary schools for the last few years. I also lead a Breeze cycling group for women and work for Peterborough City Council as their cycling instructor.

“I mainly get people who can’t ride a bike at all. People, mainly women, are left out of family bike rides because they missed out on learning how to ride a bike. They think they have no balance. But I can get them cycling in 90 minutes.

“I always try to film them on their own phones when they can cycle so they can show their families, especially their sceptical children. This is particularly rewarding. I then try to put them in touch with other women who have just learnt how to cycle so they can arrange to cycle round the park together and gain confidence. I lead local rides for beginners to show them the local cycle routes and help them cycle a bit further each time.”

Sarah Mitchell, Cycling UK chief executive, added: “Congratulations to Anna, Debbie and Sue for making it into our 100 Women in Cycling in 2021. It’s an incredible achievement and testimony to the tireless work they’ve done to raise the profile of women’s cycling.

“Every woman on our list is a powerful ambassador for women’s cycling, and many have done outstanding work supporting women to cycle during lockdown. But sadly, women remain underrepresented when it comes to everyday cycling.

“During this year’s festival we’re asking every woman who already cycles to find just one more woman they can help and inspire to get on their bike.”

To view the list in full, visit: cycling.org/womensfestival/100women/2021.

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