5 Miles to Fabulous

Back around 2008, CTC held an initiative called '5 miles to fabulous', aimed at encouraging ladies out on a five mile ride, with the idea that 5 miles is a manageable half hour ride and even commute.  The hope was to encourage ladies / women out and with an increase in exercise, they could become fitter and 'fabulous'.  I held an event, in June 2008, and despite wide publicity, I had two riders and two helpers!

original five riders

Undeterred, we set off on a pre-planned 7 mile route.  Do you know how hard it is to only do 5 miles? I had set off up the Greenway on a reccy earlier in the year, and had done 3 miles to Blacon!

Our route wended round streets to the Zoo path, down to the canal, along and back up the Greenway, to the cafe for a coffee.  Many thanks to my helpers!

Anyway, I thought I can probably manage to run this each month, my children were in drama on a Saturday morning so childcare was not a problem.

July, and I took my daughter and a friend along the Greenway, but the weather was so hideous, we headed back after a short shelter.  My friend has not been able to come with us often, again due to childcare, but has ridden very frequently since that time with another mutual friend.  So, still worth doing!

August, and another different friend joined me and my girls for a jaunt to the Ice Cream farm.  A better distance, but still very small numbers - but that is fine!

September saw me at the Cycle Promotions Cycle Sale (at the Northgate Arena) for the first time, armed with new stand and some leaflets.  This was probably the first and best publicity - not just for the ladies but also for the other rides we hold in and around Chester - and further afield!

By October our numbers were up to about 1/2 a dozen, and I had had a conversation with the local racing club who also do skills training sessions.  It seemed like a good idea to combine such training with beginners rides, but we found it took up a little too much time on an already short morning ride.  Many Thanks to Gerry from CRC!

November, and although the weather can become slightly less than favourable, I thought I would continue anyway with the rides.  December, and I had to be back as my daughter had choir practice, so I started what is now an annual short ride to Walk Mill in December.

2009 the story continues...

Feb 2009 our first visit to Eureka
I started the ladies blog in January 2009, with an extraordinarily cold ride to Broughton. Two ladies accompanied me, I had to lend my ski mits to one as she was so cold! The cafe I remembered in Broughton was gone, so we went to Costa Coffe in Broughton retail park.
In February, on St Valentines day, 4 of us made it to the Eureka cyclists cafe - they said they felt like real cyclists then!

By March we were up to 8, and had nearly as many punctures as riders on that ride!

In June I held an 'anniversary' 5 Miles to Fabulous (5mtF), but it felt like a backwards step, such a short distance.  And we had a very small turnout; so I decided not to repeat this on regular ladies rides.

2010 Wider recognition...

I was very fortunate to be nominated by our ladies for the CTC Volunteer of the year, and won the regional award for the North West. 

The Wirral Bicycle Belles, our sister group on the Wirral, were formed in the February, with instant success.  We joined them in April for a pedal it pink event, to raise funds for Cancer Research.  Much pink and many balloons!

We had the first ladies weekend away, to Shropshire.  Weather was less than kind, but excellent rides, views, food and company.

I threw in some themed rides through 2010 - it was the year we in Chester had a number of fibre glass Rhinos scattered around, so we visited the outlying ones, with a photo by each.  In September I arranged for the Manor at Ince to be available to us, as part of the Heritage days run by Chester area. 
Interesting, but I think the group really just enjoy the cycling and cafes!

2011 Steady progress...

Through 2010 and 2011 we averaged 11 riders over the year on each ride, but ranging up to 18 by June 2011.  By now conversations were turning to having a club top, but what design? Who could do it? 

I tried to start up family rides, but it was fraught with so many complications, not to mention poor weather.  We had a good treasure hunt, though!  Think I will stick to the ladies, for now.

Another weekend away to Clun, with friends from Hopwood Ladies joining us.

Ladies are now starting to infiltrate other rides around Chester - Wednesday Summer evening rides, Christmas meal out, audaxes and other Sunday rides.


Early months of March and April saw record numbers turning up (19 and 21), necessitating a division into two parties.

April saw the eagerly awaited delivery of the new club top - designed by the ladies and organised by yours truly.  We arranged a pick up at the Bike Factory (our very proud sponsors!) and I tried to get it in the papers...(unsuccessfully!)

Photo courtesy of Polocini

May we had our third ladies weekend away, this time to Derbyshire, and in June some ladies took part in our first Sportive ('let them eat cake'). Not everyone's cup of tea, but enjoyed by most.

August, and numbers were consistently up to about 16,which is quite a large group.  Still getting new faces each month, so a suggestion was made to have two groups - a 'further faster' (FF) group and the normal ride.

In the winter months we put in another order for club tops - this time long sleeved.  We arranged another pick up at the Bike Factory, accompanied by some mulled wine!

2013 - five years old!

In February we returned to Kingsway cafe for a free bike security check, with local police. 

See the 'security tab' on the blog for more information

The now annual ladies weekend took a different format this year, meeting in Holyhead we cycled back to Chester over 2 days, following route 5.

In June, we celebrated 5 years of the fab ladies, with five rides and a picnic lunch at the Cheshire Cat in Christleton.  We had lovely weather, which is always a bonus.  

Special edition pin badges were designed and sold at cost - all gone now!

We had another club top order at the end of the year, tops finally arrived in January.


The first ride of the year attracted 35 riders, and we split into 4 groups.  In the February we added a third ride level - 'Slow and Steady'.

Selfie in my Sports Relief Tee

March saw us join in with Sports Relief Bloggers relay - 'Team Honk' - or otherwise known locally as #cakecrawl.  7 cafes in 50 miles supposedly in 6 hours.  It took us 7 hours!

Ladies are now regularly attending other events - Liverpool - Chester ride in May, Audax (long distance riding association) rides, sportives, Breeze rides (British Cycling ladies).

We took over the entire hostel in Dufton for the ladies weekend in Cumbria, and explored many lanes and hills in the area, including a short ride up the M6! (there is a secret lane between the carriageways!)


A year which celebrated women in cycling:  Some of us went to see the Beryl Burton play in Tarvin, which was an excellent biographical portrayal of a determined lady from Yorkshire who won more events, races and world records than I can remember.

In September we took part in the Billie Fleming rides - Billie was a lady who had turned 100 in 2014, although she sadly passed away later that year.  A lady from the South set herself a task of holding a women's ride every day of the year, re-tracing when possible to places visited by Billie in 1926, when she set a world record for cycling the furthest distance in a year, a record which still stood in 2015.  Our leg was from Wellington to Chester, then Chester to Liverpool; although no information survives from her actual routes.

2015 was the first year we took part in the #womens100, organised by Rapha.  It rained all the way to Ellesmere and back!


Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday was celebrated up and down the country, and at the last minute I realised many were happening on the same day as our May ride- so the plan was to wear red white and blue - I even found a flag for my bike!

I was asked to be the 'lead bike' for the race for life in July, which was a surprise out of the blue, but really good fun.  It is great to be part of something else, even if it is a sea of pink!



We celebrated our ten year birthday with a new club top (limited edition) and a picnic in June, certificates for leaders and acknowledgement of support - and of course cake! 



We started the year well, but the most unusual year as it was the Covid Pandemic.  We had Jan to March rides, but lockdowns and changes to the rules meant we could not always meet and even had separate rides each side of the border by October.


Pandemic rules continued, with social distancing and limited numbers; but through the summer a few of us signed up to a challenge by Chester Tri Club, which gave you a route to ride each month, and times were logged (although I know I was not expecting to break any records!)


Some normality returning this year, with the fast riders no longer part of the Fab Ladies.  The pandemic had many effects on groups and clubs, so numbers are back low again.  We did manage the cancelled ladies weekend from 2020, to Ironbridge


Celebrating fifteen years this year!  I was diagnosed with cancer in the April, so surgery meant I was unable to ride to our birthday picnic at Walk Mill.  I was also nominated for Volunteer of the Year, for being the 'most inspiring individual'.  Rider numbers remain small and intimate, but we are still going!

We also had a leaders only weekend to Hartington in Derbyshire, as we had not arranged anything earlier (last year)