Where are you based?
Kedleston Road area.
What do you do?
I’ve been a nutritional therapist for 2 years, hypnobirthing teacher for 6/7 years, I run Thrive nutrition workshops, I’m a treasurer & trustee of Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity and a Mum of two boys aged 8 and 10.
How long have you cycled for?
I learnt to cycle when I was a kid but quite old for most kids. I think I couldn’t cycle until I was a teenager. I didn’t have a bike as a kid and then I cycled for a little while as a teenager because I had friends that cycled and we used to cycle to each other’s houses. From about the age of 18 when I went to university I didn’t take my bike with me and I didn’t cycle again for nearly 20 years. I decided to start cycling again last year so it has been less than a year as it was about March/April time. It kind of coincided with moving house. It felt like a much safer place for me to jump back in the saddle and start cycling around again. We were conscious that myself and my partner both had cars and perhaps we didn’t need a car each. If I had a bike he could use the car for work and we could drop down to only having one car which we’ve done.
Why do you cycle?
To be honest I cycle because it is the easiest way for me to get around. I have a clinic in the city centre so it is the other side of town to where I am. It is about a 30 minute walk which is fine but it only takes me 10-15 minutes on my bike so it just saves me time. I don’t work in one place where I go to work and I’m there all day. I’m kind of here, there and everywhere so I might go into my clinic to see a client, then I might go into town and meet someone for a coffee and have a meeting, or I do networking and then I have to go home and then I’ve got to pick my kids up. I don’t want to do all those things in a car because it means lots of short journeys in the city and if I walk, which I do enjoy, it often takes a lot longer and a lot of time out of my day.
I’m interested in environmental issues and I’m climate aware so I’m just trying to reduce our impact as much as we can hence why we went down to one car.
I was also interested in the physical benefits of cycling. Last year I signed up to do a mini triathlon. I didn’t actually do it because I injured myself quite close to the day but I did quite a lot of long cycles to increase my fitness so that’s another reason.
Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?
There is a route that I really enjoyed doing last summer from my house which is off Kedleston Road down to Markeaton Park, through the park and where the Mundy Play Centre is out the other side of there is a bridle path. In ten minutes you’re in the countryside! I cycle all the way up there to round the side of a farm and then you get onto some country lanes which go round the back of Kedleston Hall. Then you come back towards town and it joins up with Kedleston Road so it is kind of a loop. It is about 15/16km. It was a challenge for me when I first started doing it as it is quite a long way and it is quite hilly and bumpy in places but I’ve really enjoyed doing it. Also just cycling from home to town I’ve discovered ways to go where I hardly have to go on the road at all.
What is your best piece of kit?
Honestly I don’t have any kit. I don’t have anything cycling related. The only thing I have is a helmet. I just use my backpack to put my bike lock in and for anything if I’m out shopping. I do always think to myself ‘Do I need some cycling kit?’. For example, I just wear gloves if I’m cold and I think ‘Maybe I need proper cycling gloves’ or ‘Maybe I need a proper windbreaker jacket’. I have lights on the odd time when I do find myself cycling in the dark but it isn’t a regular occurrence. I looked in some cycling shops thinking about getting a jacket because at the moment I’ve just got either a big parka that I can’t wear because of the furry hood and then I’ve got a longish raincoat which is ok but I keep thinking I do need something specifically for cycling so I occasionally look but it is all naff and really expensive.
What do you think could help more girls and women to cycle?
I don’t know what the answer to that is, and I’m not sure if this is female specific, but for me the scariest thing was going on the roads. I contacted Cycle Derby because they have classes and courses but they never got back to me. Luckily a friend of mine teaches cycle classes so we just went out on a ride together and I just followed her lead. She told me when to go in the middle, when to indicate, when to turn and that really helped boost my confidence. If I hadn’t had that I would have been really nervous about going on the roads. When I first got my bike whenever it was appropriate I went on the pavement and I don’t anymore. I just go completely on the roads or a cycle path if there is one. I’m trying to teach my kids as well but it terrifies me because they’re 8 and 10 and I get them to go in a line behind me to follow my lead but sometimes we turn into a road and I obviously turn in on the left side but my youngest is at my back and he’ll turn in to the right lane towards oncoming traffic! Then I have to keep stopping and explaining to them. I just don’t think this city is really kitted out or set up very well for cyclists. It is designed for cars. I’m so much more aware as a car driver of cyclists now than I used to be. I’m slowly getting more confident.
How do you feel when you cycle in three words?
Free, energised and happy.
Anything else to add?
I think it would be great to let people know about LifeCycle Derby which is where I got my bike from. They were really, really helpful. I turned up there and told them I hadn’t ridden a bike for 20 years, I didn’t know what I wanted and they asked me what I wanted it for and I said for just tootling about but I would also like to go on some longer bike rides. If I had gone into Halfords or somewhere, I might have ended up getting a snazzy looking bike with a basket! They spent loads of time with me, put lights on for me, they talked to me about locks and safety. I got to ride around the car park outside to test out the bike before I committed to it as well. Obviously it is cheaper because it is second hand, it is a preloved bike, you’re reusing – there are loads of benefits.