Tamasine Corney, or ‘Tams Mole’ as she is known locally by cycling friends, is the founder of ‘The Widger Spoke Easies’ a women’s cycling club based in Launceston. Tamasine was nominated for, and recently won a ‘Sports Achievement Award’ at ‘Pirate FM’s local Heroes Award’, due to her selfless efforts to create a positive, all-female, cycling community.
Tams began cycling 11 years ago after being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic condition which can affect an individual's respiratory and digestive systems. Lots of exercise was encouraged but Tams was was worried that her first choice of running may not be sustainable for her joints in the longer term.
Tams came across cycling as an alternative option. However, when she first began taking up her new hobby, she noticed an obvious gender gap in the sport. Tams told Launceston Life, “I thought, where are all the girls/women? There was lots of information on women’s running and plenty of running magazines, but I couldn’t find the equivalent for women in cycling.”
The idea of creating a women’s cycling club soon began to form: a club that was about encouraging women into the cycling community with the option to be competitive or not. Tams said she wanted a group that embraced everyone, regardless of their expectations and she said, “I wanted to grow with them. I wanted my journey on the road bike growing at the same rate as theirs.”
In 2013 Tams' group began with about six friends who would set out on a bike ride and would end up back at Tams’ house for cake and a catch up! Interestingly, around the same time, British Cycling launched the Breeze Campaign, a strategy which aimed to, ‘inspire one million more women to ride, race and be part of British Cycling by 2020.’ Tams certainly did her bit in our local community to help with these statistics, which British Cycling did indeed achieve by 2020.
By January 2016, Tams could see her own group statistics had risen, as the group went from 6 friends in her kitchen up to forty women gathering at Lifton Farm Shop car park to set off on one of their ‘Widger Spoke Easies’ weekly, club rides! In 2019, Tams was nominated for a ‘Sport Achievement Award’ by Helen McGinnes, Ann-Marie Sobey and Kayleigh Stringer.
In her nomination to Pirate FM, Kayleigh wrote affectionately about Tam's selfless dedication to the women of ‘The Widger Spoke Easies’, ‘I am just one of probably close to one hundred ladies who have benefited from the time Tams has offered as a volunteer over the last five years'.
In the seven years leading up to her nomination, Tams had built The Widger Spoke Easies from a small group of friends into a club that now consists of over 80 members and which currently, is the South West’s only ‘All Women' British Cycling Affiliated Club.
However, 2020 was also the year of the pandemic and the awards were put on hold while the world navigated its devastating effects. Two years later in 2022, Kayleigh finally heard that Tams would be receiving the ‘Sports Achievement Award’ at Pirate FM’s Local Hero Awards ceremony.
Kayleigh also wrote about the unseen support that this group has provided for the women involved: sentiments that seem even more prominent and important within the community post-pandemic. She wrote,
‘It has been rehabilitation from physical injuries, it has been medicine for those battling with mental health, it has been escapism for those members who would rather not face what is at home, it's friendship for those who were isolated, it was companionship for those who were alone, it was an interest for those battling with the transition to retirement, it was focus for those who loved a challenge, it was competition for those who loved a race but most of all it was the welcoming and the acceptance from one person that everyone is welcome, no matter who you are, where you come from, what you ride, how you ride. You were a Widger.’
The Award Ceremony took place at Tregenna Castle on Friday 13th May 2022. However, on this historically unlucky day, after shielding through the entire pandemic, Tams finally and unfortunately contracted Covid and was unable to attend. Luckily, she wasn’t feeling unwell for too long, and Kayleigh was able to attend the ceremony and accept the award on her behalf!
The Widger Spoke Easies are a supportive group for all levels. Tams feels passionate about encouraging women into the sport and as a bike coach and a professional bike fitter, Tams likes to make sure that women feel confident and comfortable on a bike.
The main club ride takes place on a Saturday; however, the group is so large now that there are additional rides on Monday and Thursday evenings. There are also refreshment stops that support local cafés and businesses.
Tams provides a lot of road safety advice and says, ‘The club is very respectful of the other road users locally, and we promote a safe and fun environment. We work on training and riding skills in order to build confidence.’ This includes an induction in a traffic free environment and a couple of trial rides to build confidence before joining the group.
Kayleigh ended her nomination of Tams as a Local Hero by highlighting Tams’ hidden struggles with Cystic Fibrosis, the diagnosis that began this whole journey,
‘She is often fighting a battle that many will never see and so many do not even know about, that's what is even more inspirational, she puts the needs of others before her own on every level. She truly is my Hero!!’