One way to build a supportive community of women is to start with a supportive community for all. Several women’s groups on Zwift began this way, including AHDR Ladies.
The AHDR Ladies ride was born out of one of Zwift’s largest long-standing groups, the Aussie Hump Day Ride. They’ve since created a ladies’ race, too. While the rides target times popular with Australians and New Zealanders, all women are welcome.
“We’re very inclusive at our core, we love what we do and want to share it with everyone,” says one of the group’s leaders, Michelle Crick.
Michelle may as well be describing herself! She’s a cycling coach who loves sharing her passions – road racing, cyclocross, and gravel riding – with everyone. A mother of two kids living in South Australia, Michelle has been Zwifting since its beta testing days. She loves to help women on Zwift.
Recently, we asked her about AHDR Ladies and what the group is like. She told us the full story.
(For more information, you can visit the AHDR ladies-only Facebook group. Read on for ride details!)
AHDR Ladies with Tim Searle, AHDR Leader
Zwift: When did AHDR Ladies form, and who started it?
Michelle Crick: AHDR was formed five years ago by Tim Searle in the very early Zwift days, but AHDRL took another 18 months to form. We’re now going into our 4th year, we started the ride as a way of connecting Australian and New Zealand ladies with their own ride and place to grow and learn about Zwift and form a community. The racing team the Purple Armada came much later in 2019 when the racing scene in Zwift really began to take off.
Z: What would you say the group’s core purpose and goals are? Why do you believe your group is important to the Zwift community?
M: We ride to eat cake and have a cocktail or two, this theme appears on our ride weekly! Seriously though, our main purpose remains the same now as when we started - engage our ladies community and give them something they enjoy and allow them to grow and connect. We now have a much broader reach internationally too - in our FB group there are 13,000 members.
Z: Who are the group’s leaders? Are there any fun facts Zwifters should know about them?
M: Our team of leadership has grown to a wonderfully supportive group: Krystle Simpson, Sharon McMaster, Denise Prince, Melissa Ketchall, Alex Hailston, Kelly Murphy, Selina Green, Kim Wilcocks and myself, Michelle Crick. We believe it’s important to have a team so connections can form and get to know each other better with familiar people. One of our newest leaders is Kelly - AHDRL was her first group ride on Zwift after giving birth to her son and she is now a strong core member of the team!
Z: Is your group affiliated with a Zwift racing team?
M: Our Zwift racing team is Team AHDR on ZwiftPower with our own Facebook team-only page. It is open to anyone willing to fly the team name.
Z: Sport can be a powerful platform for equality. How do you think participating in cycling can empower and benefit women and girls?
M: It’s already been shown with the Zwift TDF (Tour de France Virtuel) – give women an equal platform and we will race. There is still some way to go for equality, but as participation grows in the right direction more will follow.
Z: What are the benefits of being involved in a community of women who ride?
M: Cycling is a very social sport, but you miss out on that if you’re just pedaling away in the garage. With Zwift you are able to have that community with ladies all over the world. I feel it’s important for women to have a space and place to learn and grow.
Z: Are there any special memories or experiences with this group that you'd like to share?
M: I love that we have made so many IRL connections in our Australian and New Zealand community, yet there is always a chance to catch up with people from all over the world. I myself met ladies at the IRL (in real life) World Championships in 2019 in Harrogate, UK.
AHDR Ladies Ride
AHDR Ladies p/b Liv (women only)
- Schedule: Tuesdays at 19:10 AEST
- Pace: 1.5- 2 w/kg with an optional “afterparty” race
- Length: About an hour for the main group ride
- Description: Based on the larger, mixed-gender, original AHDR ride. At the 30-minute mark, one of the women closest to the beacon gets picked to win a prize. (Open to residents of Australia and New Zealand.) In the afterparty section, all ladies get the opportunity to push themselves against each other.
AHDR Ladies Race
AHDRL Redback Race Friday (women only)
- Schedule: Fridays at 19:10 AEST
- Description: A fun monthly race series! Points are tracked over the month, and consistent racers are recognized in weekly and monthly race roundups.