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Local cycling enthusiast encourages more women to get into cycling

A LOCAL woman who set up a cycling sportive at Longleat has seen the event become unexpectedly popular with women, and is encouraging more to help it continue.

The Lionheart Sportive was set up by Emma Slevin, a cycling enthusiast and events manager who moved to Frome 12 years ago to bring up her young family with her bike-mad husband.

She started the Lionheart with a local Frome bike shop owner, Richard Evans. Since it launched six years ago, Lionheart has grown in size and popularity and has seen an 11% increase in female attendees which Emma believes is due to the friendly atmosphere and supportive community of the sportive.

Emma said, “When setting up Lionheart in 2010 I could never imagine how successful it would become. I never went out to target women specifically but Lionheart’s friendly atmosphere and variety of distances has seen more and more women signing up.

“It’s great to see cycling increase in popularity with women. The Lionheart has seen a 9% increase in female rider entries since its inaugural event six years ago – it will be great to see this continue.”

Over the previous six annual events, Lionheart has seen more and more women taking part, whether they are first timers looking for a new challenge or frequent riders hoping for a personal best at this early season sportive. Lionheart invites keen cyclists to take on the 100 mile distance and encourage their novice friends to tackle the shorter yet still impressive 100km distance. Emily Denham, a 37 year-old Wiltshire local signed up for the Lionheart unable to ride a bike. At the age of 33 she failed her cycling proficiency and struggled to make it up a hill due to her lack of knowledge on gears.

She said, “Signing up to the Lionheart sportive was the best thing I ever did. I can now ride a bike confidently and I am no longer the butt of everyone’s jokes. I decided to sign up to Lionheart because I’d heard so much about its fantastic route but most importantly friendly atmosphere. The crowd were behind me every step of the way and there wasn’t an overly competitive atmosphere which I was afraid of. I would encourage anyone to try Lionheart as their first sportive. You won’t regret it.”

Hundreds have already entered into The 2016 Lionheart Sportive with entries expected to be extremely popular. Multi-event packages are available for those who want to sign up to more than one Human Race challenge. To enter or find out more about the Lionheart visit www.humanrace.co.uk/cycling