Less than a year ago, it would have been impossible to organize a public cycling race for women in Saudi Arabia, but things have changed a whole lot in recent months.

In the first event of its kind, 47 women came together in Jeddah to take part in the kingdom's first ever women-only cycling race on Tuesday.

The 10 kilometers race was held under the governance of the Saudi General Authority for Sports in the King Abdullah City for Sports and coincided with International Health Day.

The event was organized by "Be Active", a collective made up of a group of women who meet to train and cycle on a weekly basis. This is the first time they held an official race event.

A groundbreaking event for women in the kingdom

In a statement to Al Arabiya, the event's supervisor Nadima Abu al-Enein said the organizing committee was surprised to see such a large number of women enrolling and taking place in the race.

"The large participant turnout prompted the organizing committee to increase the allowed number of participants from 30 to 47 girls, however the committee was still forced to exclude numerous others who hoped to participate," she said.

Though the event is a great step forward for Saudi women... it still sparked a Twitter controversy

Some tweeted out ridiculous statements like this

"I am not a religious cleric but a woman can be seductive and getting on a bicycle reveals all her attractive parts to men. If she wants to ride a bike she must do that by herself and not in public nor in front of people." 

Others were completely against the event

"Women sports are needed but within limits and not in front of men." 

Not everyone criticized the race though

"They held this event inside a stadium, where's the problem with that? We've always said we need sports arenas dedicated to women, spaces where they can run, train and ride bikes, I don't think there's anything wrong with that." 

Many absolutely loved it

"This looks like so much fun." 

"Go Jeddah go... we don't care about your objections"

A few women made this point...

"In five years or ten or twenty, the women who are criticizing the event on social media are going to take part in similar races or will attend them and cheer on those racing. Just like they did with mobile phones, televisions, schools, nursing, medicine... they'll look back and be embarrassed by the way they reacted." 

The race comes during a triumphant year for Saudi women in sports

In recent months, things have been looking up for Saudi female athletes. 

Earlier this year, the kingdom hosted its first women-only run, which turned out to be a huge success.

Months prior to that, the kingdom held its first-ever women's basketball tournament and announced it will soon be hosting a women's football competition.

Saudi female athletes have also been making international headlines for their achievements at global scale events, including the Rio 2016 Olympics. 

Four female athletes attended the international games, following in the footsteps of two bold Saudi women who participated in the London 2012 games.

Considering all the recent positive reforms, it doesn't seem impossible for Saudi women to compete and represent their country at the Olympics in the near future.