In 2018 we launched our pioneering ‘Women of Vélo’ campaign, aimed at inspiring more women than ever to get into the sport of cycling and take part in Vélo Birmingham & Midlands. The campaign was born out of frustration at the % of women who entered Vélo Birmingham & Midlands in 2017, and indeed the % of women on the start line of sportives up and down the country. Inspired by the Commonwealth Games coming to Birmingham in 2020 – a beacon of diversity and inclusion – we set ourselves the ambitious target of the Vélo Birmingham & Midlands start line being 50/50 by 2022.

We’re pleased to say that thanks to the Women of Vélo campaign, along with the addition of a shorter 42 mile route, we increased the % of women taking part in 2019 to 21% – an increase of 4% compared to 2017. We’re pleased by this progress, but we still have a long way to go to achieve our ultimate goal… and we’re determined to do everything we can to achieve it!

New for 2020, we’ve teamed up with the inspirational Naseem Akhtar MBE – founder of the Saheli Cycling Hub in Birmingham – to become the Ambassador of our Women of Vélo campaign and inspire the next wave of female cyclists to enter the event in 2020.

In 2019, despite the event falling in Ramadan, Naseem inspired 25 local women – all of whom were fasting – to complete the last 10 miles of the Vélo Birmingham & Midlands route. This year, she’s got even loftier ambitions, as she explains below:

A message from our Women of Vélo Cycling Ambassador, Naseem Akhtar:

“Vélo Birmingham & Midlands was an incredible event and I was so proud to lead 25 women in completing the last 10 miles of the route! I learnt to ride at the age of 36 and have never looked back. I am honoured to be the Ambassador for the Women of Vélo campaign and can’t wait to work closely with the organisers to try and inspire more women than ever to enter next year’s event. Having taught over 1,000 women in the Saheli Club how to ride, I feel I’m well placed to understand the barriers that prevent women from getting into the sport and indeed entering sportives. I’m confident that by working closely with the organisers, we can break through the 25% barrier in 2020 and get ourselves even closer to that magical target of 50/50 by 2022!

Become a Women in Vélo Champion and SHARE YOUR STORY!

In the lead up to the event, we want to celebrate our incredible female riders and use their stories to inspire women to enter the event. Each month, we’ll profile an inspiring female rider’s story through our comms channels… but to do this we need your help!

If you’re a female rider with a story to tell, please click on the button below and tell us how you got into cycling and why you’ve decided to take part in Vélo Birmingham & Midlands in 2020. Through sharing your positive experiences of cycling, we may be able to get more women participating in this great sport!

If you have any other ideas about how we can grow this campaign and indeed increase the % of female riders taking part in 2020, please email hello@velobirmingham.com with the subject line: ‘Women of Vélo’.

Together, we can achieve our goal. Chapeau!