Creating social network for women cycling enthusiasts

Participation in sport can positively impact a person’s physical and mental well-being, but major challenges remain, especially with regard to engagement among women.

Common barriers include lack of time, availability and awareness of sport, low confidence as well as safety and security factors.

There are also those less motivated to take part due to lack of friends with shared interests.

Cognisant of these challenges, a programme known as Women on Wheels (WOW) – a leisure cycling programme for women – was held with the objective of creating a social network for cycling enthusiasts.

Taking place to mark International Women’s Day, the programme was jointly organised by two cycling clubs, South Puchong Cycling Club (SPCC) and AFG, as well as bicycle shop QB Cycle Service Bay, to attract more women to cycling.

WOW founder Dilla Ramli told Bernama that participation in the programme had now reached 150 compared to 30 at its inaugural event in 2021.

“We are encouraged by the overwhelming response to our programme, with more women joining WOW cycling activities to improve their health and boost self-confidence.”

She said this year’s programme focused on helping women overcome their inhibitions when cycling in groups, particularly with men cyclists.

“WOW’s objective is to bring together all women interested in cycling to ride in groups, to socialise and support each other.

“WOW also wants to create awareness among the public to respect cyclists, especially women,” she said, adding that the programme too was aimed at wiping out gender discrimination in sports.

Through the programme, Dilla hopes women from various backgrounds can unite to share their experience.

She said WOW had also invited experienced cyclists to provide technical, safety and security assistance.

“The men are our support team, in their role as marshals.

“They are behind the scenes as we want women cyclists to be at the forefront,” she added.

Dilla noted that the majority of women participants in WOW were experienced cyclists.

WOW project manager Dr Syazana Alia Sabrudin said cycling was generally perceived as a male-dominated activity, but there were experienced and highly skilled women cyclists who attended the programme.

She said that for the first time, WOW’s initiative this year received Youth and Sports Ministry’s support.

“In future, we will enrich WOW with various activities including health screening for women,” she said.

Wendy Chew, 69, said she signed up for the cycling activity alone as none of her friends shared her interest in this.

“This is my first time with WOW,” she said.

“Despite being alone, I was eager to participate as WOW was set up to promote a healthy lifestyle in addition to empowering women through sports, enabling them to face and overcome life’s challenges with confidence.

“I consider WOW a good platform in encouraging more women to participate in sports,” Chew added.

QB Cycle Service Bay shop owner Nur Hazwany Halim said that as a cyclist with 10 years of experience in the sport, she understood problems faced by women who cycled in groups.

She had observed cycling enthusiasts being left behind in terms of stamina and how some were reluctant to cycle in big groups.

“This programme can help build confidence among women,” she said, adding that more women had now taken up cycling.

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