A NEW initiative has been launched in the Borders to help women get to grips with their bikes.

While the Tweed Valley and the wider Scottish Borders are renowned as hotspots for cycling - it's not everyone, particularly women, who are confident enough to saddle up and take to the trails or roads.

Now a new scheme has been created to encourage more women in the region to get on their bikes.

The free women-only sessions are aimed at giving confidence and skills in an enjoyable atmosphere.

Easy Riders is being run by Hillside Outside Ltd, the team who organise the TweedLove Bike Festival and Tour O The Borders cycling events.

Project manager Sarah Birks, who is helping to deliver the project with the Peebles-based company, told us: “The sessions are going to be great fun, but they’ll provide everything that’s needed for perhaps the more reluctant women cyclist to enjoy all the good stuff that comes with getting on your bike.

"Apart from the riding, we’ll be stopping for coffee, cake and a chat too of course – everyone’s welcome if they want to start riding their bike more!”

Easyriders is made up of a series of six, free, weekly social get-togethers where, with a qualified instructor, groups of up to eight women will have a safe, friendly and supportive environment where they can enjoy cycling together.

The scheme also aims to promote a healthier lifestyle and help the riders develop the confidence to consider cycling as an alternative to the car for shorter journeys - especially around their own towns in the Borders.

The courses will be taking place in different locations across the region and will be timed to work around day-to-day responsibilities such as work or the school run.

Director of Hillside Outside, Neil Dalgleish said: “This is a fabulous initiative and we’re proud to be involved – we really hope lots of women will take it up as it’s a fantastic opportunity to get some top quality encouragement and friendly coaching from some top professional instructors. There’s even a free event for everyone to work towards at the end of the project.”

The project is being funded by Paths For All and Transport Scotland’s ‘Smarter Choices, Smarter Places’ initiative, through Scottish Borders Council.

The courses will be available in different areas, and in different timeslots to fit in with the different time demands on women’s lifestyles.

The courses begin on August 20 in the Peebles/Innerleithen area, and full details of all locations and dates can be found on the Easyriders website - www.easyriders.cc