LIV Velocity Zwift helps women with different goals and backgrounds connect through a shared love of cycling.
The group began with Velocity Ladies, a Dutch women's cycling club. When COVID-19 kept them from riding together for a while, their sponsor LIV Cycling Benelux helped them set up a regular group ride through Zwift. Now they connect with women from all over the world on the LIV Velocity Social Ride!
“It’s awesome to cycle with so many different nationalities,” says Angela Milani, one of the leaders of LIV Velocity Zwift.
Angela has been cycling for about 5 years now, and she first discovered it after a track cycling clinic. She has been Zwifting since November 2019.
“What I like is to motivate other ladies to get on the bike and to encourage them to keep cycling, which is why I (chairman) and a number of other ladies (including Debby and Manon) founded Velocity Ladies in 2019,” she says.
The other regular Zwift ride leader is Manon Zuurmond. She has been road cycling for about 8 years, mountain biking for 5, and Zwifting for 1. What first sparked her love for riding was a trip to Alpe d’Huez in France, where she decided to climb the mountain on a whim!
“A little later I started to ‘worry’ about women's cycling. It struck me that not many girls cycle yet, and when they cycle they did it toiling in their partner's wheel,” Manon says. “I thought it could be done differently, so I started to join initiatives to promote women's cycling. This is how I ended up on the board of Velocity Ladies, because I think it's cool to facilitate women's cycling. To bring them together, to give them confidence on the bike, and to develop themselves further on the bike.”
Angela and Manon recently told us the story of Velocity Ladies and the LIV Velocity Social Ride.
Zwift: When did LIV Velocity Zwift form, and who started it?
Angela Milani & Manon Zuurmond: This group on Zwift actually originated during the beginning of the first corona lockdown. Normally we start the Tuesday evening rides with our cycling club Velocity Ladies in April, but because of the corona measures that wasn’t possible last year.
Angela and Manon knew there were some girls from Velocity on Zwift and decided to organize Zwift Meetups as an alternative to the Tuesday evening rides. After a few rides, we realized that maybe more girls on Zwift would miss their ride at their club. So we decided to invite girls from outside Velocity as well.
It was successful, especially when we shared on our socials we were organizing Meetups. The group in the Meetups got bigger and bigger and it became more fun. We actually played with the idea quite early on: what if we had our own Zwift Group Ride with Velocity Ladies.
Now that we really saw that there was enthusiasm for it within the Meetups, we decided to really work on making that happen.
Our sponsor LIV Cycling Benelux gave us the perfect opportunity to realize our idea of our own ride on the Zwift Calendar. We grabbed this with both hands and we are really grateful for this opportunity. So not only LIV Cycling Benelux supports us IRL (in real life), LIV supports us also online through Zwift.
Velocity Ladies is a Dutch ladies-only cycling club. We started in 2019 with 1 group in Eindhoven, which quickly grew into a group of 35 enthusiastic ladies in different speed/tempo groups. Velocity Ladies has the ambition to grow to multiple groups throughout the Netherlands so that every woman anywhere in the Netherlands can join a Velocity group. Velocity stands for sporty and sociable cycling, for ladies by ladies, casual and without obligation. That is what many women look for in their cycling experience. We've been an association for only 2 years now, but have already grown to 3 departments throughout the country: Eindhoven, Lisse, and Den Bosch, with a total of 85 women/club members.
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?
A&M: Just like IRL, the LIV Velocity Social Rides and the Meetups represent a sporty and sociable ride. For and by ladies where non-committalness is important. We love it when our ride is on your agenda every week, but if you join our ride every once in a while, that's fine too.
Our goal is to reach lots of ladies and to introduce them to how much fun Zwift is.
Zwifting together is way more fun than Zwifting alone.
Z: Who are the group’s leaders on Zwift? Are there any fun facts Zwifters should know about them?
A&M: Angela: #yellowbeacon, talk show host during the rides. Love to lead and make sure that everyone is having a good time. Social glue ;)
Manon: #sweeperteam, red beacon, mile eater, likes to be challenged. I love it when I am able to help other girls: bringing them back to the pack, closing gaps, etc. It feels great to do and it gives me a nice interval training too: two birds with one stone!
Debby: #multitasker, chief photographer, yellow beacon, red beacon and back-up for both. Loves social talk.
Erica: #badgehunter, our own Zwift-Insider, yellow beacon, red beacon and back-up for both.
Z: Is your group affiliated with a Zwift racing team?
A&M: We have a team on Zwift Power, but we don't have a true racing team yet. Our aim for now is organizing accessible social rides and events. We do enjoy racing and we have a strong ambition in racing. But we'd first like to build our community on the social aspect of cycling.
Z: How do you think participating in cycling can empower and benefit women and girls?
A&M: Women in cycling all have one goal: having fun! One girl reaches her goal by training hard and growing into winning races. The other girl reaches her goal by cycling in groups and finishing a happy social ride together. Just an example of two totally different approaches, but cycling is what connects both girls. There is no better or worse, it's cycling. They share the same love for their sports. The way they reach their goals is just different. But they both want to have fun, they both love to cycle, they both want to grow in their own ways. Sharing experiences, sharing their love for cycling, connecting both girls through Zwift. We all may be different, but cycling connects us. And Zwift makes this connection happen.
Z: What are the benefits of being involved in a community of women who ride?
A&M: It’s important to have a community where you feel comfortable, where everyone is equal and every topic can be discussed. Whether you have just started cycling or have been on a racing bike for 15 years. Exchanging experiences, reading beautiful stories, getting inspired by each other. You discover so much more within a community. Beautiful cycling environments, cool challenges, or to answer questions about topics that have become self-evident to you and so on. It's nice to see all those experiences of different women from the Netherlands and now through Zwift we even know what keeps cycling women on the other side of the world busy. Sharing your cycling experience is so much more fun than doing everything alone. The community makes your sports experience much more fun and challenging.
Z: Are there any special memories or experiences with this group that you'd like to share?
A&M: At the start of the LIV Velocity Social Rides (January 21, 2021) we (Angela and Manon) had set a goal of 30 participants each ride. We really had no idea that there would be over 200 participants every ride we rode.
Amazing how many ladies we reach every LIV Velocity Social Ride.
LIV Velocity Rides
LIV Velocity Social Ride (women only)
- Schedule: Thursdays at 18:45 CET
- Pace: 1-5-2.3 w/kg with two pace groups
- Length: 1 hour
- Description: All levels are welcome. There are two speed groups that form during the ride. The yellow beacon group rides at a 1.7-2.3 w/kg pace, and the red beacon group rides at about 1.5-1.7 w/kg.
Velocity Meetup (women only)
- Schedule: Tuesdays at 19:05 CET
- Pace: 2 w/kg
- Length: 1 hour
- Description: A private Dutch Meetup group with communication in Dutch. Sociable ride, all speed levels are welcome.
Velocity Challenge Meetup (women only)
- Schedule: Once every one or two months on weekends
- Pace: 2 w/kg
- Description: Duration is as long as we decide the challenge will be. Could be 100km or a bigger badge ride.