Why we cycle: Mavis Ratcliffe

Where are you based?

South Derbyshire. I have been in Etwall for 55 years and I was in Mickleover for 20 years before that.

What do you do?

I am retired, but I continue to enjoy many activities and interests. I am involved with Age Concern in Etwall, I cycle, I walk my dog and I also love horses. I help out with the horses at a local farm and I ride a couple of times a week. I have four grandchildren and I enjoy spending time with them as they also love horse riding and cycling: Our family are all outdoor people. I have been a Sustrans volunteer since 2004, and have many happy memories of people and places connected to the organization. I especially enjoyed being on cycling tours with John Grimshaw, the founder of Sustrans, who is an amazing and inspiring man.

I am also involved with the Etwall Well Dressings Association. Our small cul-de-sac where I live, do our own Well Dressings and we join in with the village monthly meetings. A Well Dressing takes a lot of planning as we are only a small number. Other activities I am interested in are; swimming, football, church fundraising, jigsaws (but only in the winter), walking and gardening.

How long have you cycled for?

I have cycled since I was a teenager; I never really stopped and I have always owned a bike. In fact at one time we had nine bikes in our garage. In 1985 I started working for the health authority and would regularly cycle from Etwall to The Derby Royal Infirmary. There were no specific cycle paths into Derby and it was heavenly to zoom down Burton Road past the queuing traffic early in the morning.

Why do you cycle?

I cycle because it is just so lovely to be out in the fresh air. I cycle for exercise and I enjoy the solitude, and getting lost in my own thoughts. I love finding my way by bike and exploring places. I had a neighbour who cycled constantly and we planned many long distance cycle rides which were always exciting. We used to go on long cycling trips with all our camping gear. Eventually we switched the camping for Travel Lodges, which always seem amenable to us as we were allowed to take our bikes into the room, and that meant we could continue to explore and have many adventures. Unfortunately she has now passed away so my long distance cycling activities have ceased.

Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?

I love cycling on the Mickleover Greenway, part of National Cycle Routes 54 and 68. I especially like the stretch between Egginton Bridge and Mickleover. I am very happy cycling along there, litter picking as I go.

What is your best piece of kit?

I really like my fluorescent jacket, it makes me visible which I think is very important. In fact I have two, one rather muddy one I keep for horse riding and the other for cycling. I also like my padded saddle cover from Aldi. I have had a variety of bikes and have done many miles on my Dahon folder; maybe I’ll get an electric bike sometime in the future.

What do you think could help more girls and women to cycle?

I think one of the problems is that women tend to be more time pressurised than men, especially women who work and also do the majority of the childcare. Although I’ve seen improvements during my lifetime it still remains an issue. I see a lot of cyclists out and about enjoying a Sunday ride, but the majority of them are men. I think women tend to feel guiltier if they are not spending precious time with their family.

Not really sure what would help them; maybe better off road paths could be an advantage.

How do you feel when you cycle in three words?

‘Elation’ ‘freedom’ and I also feel ‘good’ about myself and the world in general. It’s just great to be out and about whatever the weather or time of year.

Additional comments:

Brief resume of main cycle rides

2004: Joined Sustrans on retirement

June 2005: Opened Section 54 Etwall to Egginton Bridge

July 2003: Hadrian’s cycleway – Route 72 with Sustrans including John Grimshaw.  Camping with Dahon Folding Bike. Cartmel Sellafield Whitehaven Carlisle Hexham Newcastle return by train.  240 miles

June 2007: Sustran’s Channel Challenge 8 days camped. John Grimshaw joined. Dahon Folder. Bristol Cardiff Swansea Lundy Isle Ilfracombe Tiverton Bath Bristol.  Approx. 300 miles

October 2007: Etwall to Rugby with Joyce Hyde 3 days. 100.27 miles Return by train.

June 2008: York to Etwall with Joyce Hyde to celebrate her 80 birthday. 4 days 150.59 miles

Sept 2008: Train to Birmingham with Joyce Hyde.  Cycle to Etwall 52 miles

June 2010: Train to Skegness with Joyce Hyde.  Cycle back to Etwall 4 days 136 miles

Sept 2012: Ride to Oxford with Joyce Hyde. 3 days. Return by train.

June 2013: Train to Eley. Ride around Norfolk with Joyce Hyde. Fens, Forest and Fearns. 4 days  122.56 miles

June 2014: Train to Reading with Joyce Hyde cycle to Windsor for lst Ride The Night – 100 km raising funds for Breast Cancer and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Action.  Return train from Reading.

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