Why we cycle: Joss Winter
Where are you based?
I live in Nottingham, but I grew up in Burton-on-Trent and went to school in Derby so I’ve grown up knowing its quirks and charms.
What do you do?
I work for Sustrans as a workplace engagement officer in Derby and Nottingham, where I’m trying to get more businesses involved and engaged with active travel. I come from an environmental background and have always been interested in cycling as a low impact transport method.
How long have you cycled for?
I cycled as a kid around parks and really enjoyed it but found living on a busy road too scary to go out on my own. I started cycling again when I graduated from University and got my first job in Derby. I couldn’t drive and I couldn’t get there by bus, so I had to cycle. That was a 14 mile commute each way, and I had to do it every day which I found was the best way ever to get into it again. I didn’t like my job very much so my commute was the best part of my day, especially as it was a nice route half off road, I liked seeing the seasons change. Seeing how much my health and fitness improved was really good – so I carried on from there and got a bit obsessed!
Why do you cycle?
I cycle mainly for fun, definitely, but also commute, run errands and get to meetings by bike. I’m not going to do it if it’s not enjoyable but I don’t think I’ve ever been out on a bike ride and then regretted it. For me, I really enjoy the head space cycling gives me, I’m not very good at meditation or mindfulness as I’m always distracted, so cycling is the only time that I am focused.
Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?
I really like the route that goes from Swarkestone all the way in to the city centre, which is off road along the Cloud Trail following Route 6. It’s around 6 miles and you can beat most cars at rush hour doing the same journey by road, it’s a really quick way of getting in to the city. There are trees and streams that you pass and you see lots of wildlife, plus it’s really flat, that route made me really enjoy cycling.
What is your best piece of kit?
I started out wearing impractical clothes on long bike rides and would get cold, so when I first got a good pair of gloves, that was a life changer for me, especially cycling through winter. I’d say a good pair of gloves and general winter wear – I wear overshoes which are like gloves for your shoes to keep my feet warm and a good waterproof jacket. I usually wear running leggings or normal clothes for my commute and cycling to events and meetings and then get changed in the toilets.
What do you think could help more girls and women to cycle?
I think that to get more women and girls cycling for functionality and getting about, improving safety would really help, through better infrastructure and safer cycle lanes separate from vehicle traffic. It hasn’t happened often but I have been cat-called when cycling which has made me feel unsafe when I’m out on my own, so calling out instances might help make more women feel they can cycle undisturbed! When thinking about getting more women and girls into cycling as sport, I think some clubs don’t have enough diversity or support to encourage female riders to join, once I joined a new club and was told I wouldn’t be fast enough to join the all-male group, which really put me off and knocked my confidence.
How do you feel when you cycle in three words?
Happy, independent and efficient.