The Skinny Lattes – getting more women on bikes

Skinny lattes editedI first heard about the Adelaide-based women only cycling club, The Skinny Lattes a couple of years ago but it wasn’t until now that I made contact. I previously profiled a women’s only club based in Austin, Texas in the US, a country where I’m sure there are plenty of women’s only clubs. However, The Skinny Lattes is the only one I’m aware of in Australia (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about that). I recently caught up with Belinda Bramley who is the Club Secretary and one of the founding members.

When was the Skinny Lattes formed?

The Skinny Lattes Cycling Club was formed in 2002 by three girlfriends Felicity Laing, Lynette Collins and Belinda Bramley who recognised a need for a women’s specific cycling group.

How many members do you have? How do you join?

Currently we have 90 members. We don’t search for members – they find us. You contact the club via the website, and then we chat with potential new members and if we sound like the right club you join via the Cycling Australia Website.

Why a women’s only club?

Our partners, at the time, rode with the Fat boys and we kept getting left out, so we went riding with our girlfriends and we soon discovered how much we knew and could support each other on the rides. We combined two loves, a coffee with a ride and soon became the Skinny Lattes – because that’s what we drank.

We found women supporting women was key and a non-threatening environment was so important in learning and developing cycling skills and we also enjoyed solving the world’s problems or trying to and managing some of our own. Amazing what stories are told on a ride.

We do have male Skinny Latte members who support us in many ways through coaching, commissar and voluntary work at our events but the riding membership is female only. We are Adelaide’s only women’s specific cycling club and as our membership grew we become affiliated with Cycling Australia to enable us to offer more to our members.

Are all your members into racing or are they just keen leisure cyclists?

We have a very varied membership. We provide grassroots racing as a lot of our members have never tried racing and it’s a great opportunity to give it a go. We have recreational road rides and a many members do the track cycling at the Superdrome. Our members also participate in the TDU, Amy Gillet ride and the Bike SA Grand Slam rides. We are very proud of our members whether they are racing in state, national and international competition or are women who get out on their bikes each weekend and try to improve their riding skills and fitness.

Is the focus on road biking?

The focus is on enjoying your cycling whether its road, track or mountain biking. Our members participate in all three. We offer members opportunities to participate and improve.

Do you have your own kit? If yes, can other women purchase it or do you need to be a club member?

You need to be a Club member who rides with us to get a kit. We are a small friendly club who likes to know all its members. This is important for safety and helps when it comes to organising teams and social events. It’s about women supporting women with their own experiences and a collective wealth of cycling knowledge.

Do you contact social activities as well as rides?

Every ride is a social occasion, a chance to catch-up and chat, but we also organise dinners and other functions including information sessions. We have the Murray Bridge Women’s Tour coming up on April 26 and 27. This is not only a great weekend of grassroots racing for women but a fun weekend away with the club.

Do you have sponsors? If yes, are they companies that are focused on women’s cycling?

We are sponsored by CIBO (an Adelaide café chain). Roberto Carbone came on board early in our story when we only had a few members and has been supporting us ever since. The CIBO sponsorship plus a number of other sponsors, who support our events with products and prizes, include Shimano, Pearl Izumi, Continental, Hammer Nutrition and Nick Wood Fitness allow the club to host cycling events for women.

These sponsors have supported grass roots women’s racing from day one. The sponsors allow the Club to run the Women’s Series Events and most recently the Rural City of Murray Bridge and Burke Urban have come on board as sponsors for the Murray Bridge Women’s Tour. The Skinny Lattes Women’s Series is in its third year and the popularity is continuing to grow. The series of events include time trials, hill climbs, road races and criteriums. You don’t have to be a racer and a lot of our members do personal bests at these events, using them for self-improvement.

Where do you see the club heading in the future?

The Skinny Lattes CC future – well I can’t believe we have been going for 12 years already. We still have many things to learn as a club as we are just getting into hosting the Women’s Tour events. We will continue to provide support, allowing women to race in non-threatening environments, provide group rides, cyclosportif teams and generally help women achieve their cycling goals. We will continue to do what we do now – only better.

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