Collingwood’s Noelle Wansbrough on engaging more women in cycling

It’s no secret that cycling is a male-dominant sport, but Ontario is lucky to have some influential women making moves to engage more females in the sport. We chatted with Collingwood’s Noelle Wansbrough about why Centurion is a great entry-level race for new female cyclists and how the local cycling scene can be more welcoming to women.

What is your current level of involvement in your local Collingwood cycling scene?

i am the of Pedalpushers Cycling in Collingwood, which is a business that offers tours, clinics, women’s clinics, private coaching and youth programs for road, gravel and MTB biking. I am the president of the Collingwood Cycling Club and the Canadian Sales Rep for Terry Precision Cycling (women’s specific saddles and apparel company). I also run the marketing and coaching for the Collingwood franchise of Powerwatts Indoor Cycling Studio.
What barriers do you feel are affecting women interested in getting into cycling?
Some women are intimidated by the sport. It is a male-dominated sport with not enough support in the industry for women. It is much better than it used to be but its still behind.
What would you like to see from the Ontario cycling scene to help more women get into the sport?
It would be great to see more women’s only clinics and events which will encourage more women to come out. Women are very supportive of each other in group environments and the female-only theme is less intimidating for many.
As a woman just getting into cycling, which of the Centurion races is the best one to start with?
The 40km is definitely a great place to start. It will be challenging and fun, but isn’t a daunting distance.
What are some tips you have for women preparing for this event?
Riding the course is definitely helpful. Once they have ridden the course they have the confidence that they can do it. A training plan specific to the distance they are doing is also a good idea and will ensure they have the fitness come race day. Getting comfortable riding in groups is also essential.
What are some tips you have for women who may want to slowly increase their distance on the bike, or work up to competing a longer distance?
Build slowly. Add 10 % a week to the overall mileage. Incorporate hill work in training sessions (hill intervals) and try to get one long ride (80-100% of race distance) every 10 days.