PENDLETON power is the subject of this week’s Pedal Power as an Olympic hero launches a women-only bike event in Cheshire.

World and Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton spoke of why she loves cycling and the transformation power of sport as she urged women to sign up for the Macmillan Cycletta Cheshire this September.

The event starts and finishes at Tatton Park and takes in the surrounding country lanes, with a choice of three distances, including a 20km route for novices, the 40km classic distance and an 80km challenge route.

Victoria has supported Cycletta events since they were launched in 2011 as part of her mission to inspire the nation.

“The biggest thing for me in inspiring women to take up sport is creating opportunities,” she said.

“The more stuff you try the more chance there is of finding something you love so it’s about creating opportunities that are appealing.

“It’s very addictive when you find something new that you enjoy, then you get friends involved and it’s a knock-on effect.”

She said friendship was an important part of the Cycletta atmosphere.

“I think a big thing about women-only events is the fact that the environment is a lot less intimidating,” she said.

“Having been brought up and worked in a male-orientated environment my whole life it’s definitely different.

“When guys get involved it’s all about how many miles you’ve done and about performance.

“With women it’s about bonding – they get friends involved, stick together and make into a social event.”

She added: “I do feel I have a responsibility to encourage the nation to get involved in sport but for me it comes down to the fact that I’ve had an incredible career and have been really blessed with the opportunities I’ve been given and from what I’ve personally got from sport as a human being.

“I used to be such a shy person – the only time I was sent out of class was because I didn’t want to read aloud from the book.

“Sport has given me so many opportunities and so much confidence – that’s enough for me to say ‘get involved in sport because it can give you so much’.”

Victoria, who retired from competitive cycling after London 2012 but who is still very much involved in the cycling world, said it was particularly special as a sport.

“I love the freedom cycling gives to you – the areas you can explore and the views you can reach,” she said.

“I love being outdoors and I love new places.”

Victoria, who has her own range of bicycles at Halfords, also had advice for people starting out and wondering what kind of bike to try.

She recommended hybrid bikes, which are more lightweight than mountain bikes but more substantial than a road bike.

“For someone getting involved in cycling or looking to try these events a hybrid bike is a good idea,” she said.

“It gives you a bit more stability than a road bike would and if you’ve never ridden with dropped handlebars it can be a little more comfortable and easier to get used to.”

Macmillan Cycletta Cheshire takes place on September 28.

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