“We ride, then we have tea and cake, and it’s all free!”

Hope is putting on a series of women-only evening rides. We find out what it’s all about.

Guided rides around some of the UK’s best riding spots, from Gisburn Forest to the Surrey Hills and everything in-between; Hope lights loaned out to anyone without; friendly coaching from a former downhill World Cup winner; and free tea and cake at the end. It sounds too good to be true but it’s really happening, courtesy of engineering firm Hope Technology.

Hope is putting on a series of women-only evening rides, usually around Gisburn Forest, but stretching down to various locations like the Forest of Dean, and others over the summer months. The idea is to remove all the barriers that stop women riding, like lack of confidence or crappy kit, says brand ambassador Rachael Walker, who runs the programme.

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So is this altruism or Hope egoism?

“When we started I just wanted more women to ride with,” Rachael says. “Then we tried to get more women into riding, which is great. We don’t have an agenda; there are no women-specific products.”

It’s successful too, Rachael says: “We were going to stop them over the winter, so I could have a bit of a break. But people kept on coming along and signing up, so we just couldn’t.”

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Hope Tech: rides for all women

Any success stories?

Plenty, says Rachael: “One lady in particular; she came along on one of the rides having never done any exercise in her life. Two rides later she bought a bike, and now she’s totally hooked on riding. It’s cool seeing people gain knowledge and really get into it.”

Any other acts of kindness?

“In January we’re starting workshop days at Gisburn and the idea behind it is to teach women about their bikes.” The programme they are planning will run something like this: three hours teaching, some basic repairs, lunch, and then some skills training and a ride.