Where are you based?
For my cycling work, Markeaton Park and for my other job I’m in Allenton.
What do you do?
I’ve got a few different roles. My main job role is as a Residential Childcare Worker for Derby City Council so I work with children in care. My second job is for Cycle Derby. I do one-to-one training and learn to ride with adults from complete beginners to people who want to build up confidence. I also work in schools teaching Bikeability level one and level 2.
How long have you cycled for?
I learnt to ride when I was probably around 5 years old. I remember my Grandad spending hours running along behind me holding onto the back of my bike and then eventually I realised he wasn’t holding to the back of my bike and I was going! We didn’t have a car when I was young so me and my Mum used to cycle quite a bit to get from A to B, do the shopping, go out and take the dogs out. I was quite an early driver. I used to live out in the countryside so my Mum got me driving at an early age. I was 17. Before then I was using the bike a lot. I had my first daughter at 18 and I probably did stop riding for a couple of years. I’ve always had a bike. I’ve always used it, especially if I’ve not had a car I’ve used it more then. I remember being a little toddler on the back of a bike going down the A6. Obviously it was a lot less busy then! With my second daughter I rode a bike right up until a week or two before I had her. I was on the bike then as well!
Why do you cycle?
I cycle mainly to get from A to B. Being in Derby, it is quite a small city so it is actually a lot quicker generally to get around. You obviously don’t have to pay car parking charges. It is also a lot more environmentally friendly. It is a lot less stressful too, especially if you’re going to work. If you cycle to work, you’re there ready for the day whereas if you drive and sit in a traffic jam for half an hour you’re quite stressed and anxious. I think being on a bike is a good way to start your working day.
Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?
I love the Riverside Path, when it isn’t too busy. It is beautiful going down in the day when the sun is out seeing all the animals and the birds on the river. I really do like it there. With my daughter, especially when she was younger, around Markeaton Park is beautiful. There is the park the kids can play on, you’ve got the lake with all the birds so there is so much to see around here. It is really lovely to cycle around there.
What is your best piece of kit?
I don’t have much! I’ve got a helmet that I don’t always wear, and I’ve got a bike. I don’t have any specialist clothing. I don’t have specialist shoes that clip on. I suppose my bike is my best bit of kit. I’ve also got some really good, strong, waterproof and durable panniers for when I’m working. They keep everything dry and I don’t have to carry it on my back. They’re brilliant and a lot of them have got straps so when you get into town you can hook them off and it is just like wearing a bag.
What do you think could help more girls and women to cycle?
This is a difficult one as I’ve always cycled so it isn’t something I’ve ever had to get into. I know a lot of women I’ve taught to ride are quite conscious about the way they look. They don’t want to have to wear cycling shorts or these funny shoes that clip clop around. But they don’t have to. As it is generally, especially in Derby, a male dominated sport I think just seeing other women being out and in a cycling environment would help. I’m not into road riding and going out in groups but I like to be able to just go out for a ride with my mates and it not being a sort of competition. Just a nice, relaxed thing to do. Making bike shops more accessible for women so maybe having more female staff in cycle shops or having a service where more experienced female riders can buddy up with women who are new to cycling to show them the ropes. Maybe having more female bike mechanics because I know it can be quite daunting like it is with the car if you want to get it fixed, it is full of men and you get a bit intimidated. I think just more women having a face out there. It is a tough one but I know it can be quite daunting for women.
How do you feel when you cycle in three words?
Free, liberated and alive.
Anything else to add?
I think just give it a go! If you can access somewhere that can provide some training go for it. It is worth it. I’ve been teaching a woman today. She contacted me a few weeks ago and said she was going away with her friends in a few weeks and realised she has booked on a cycle tour but she can’t ride a bike! Just seeing the smile on her face today. She has nearly got it! It is her second hour and she is very close to riding a bike.