Why we cycle: Ada Lo

What do you do and where are you based?

I work for Rolls Royce as an aerospace engineer and live 3 miles away from the site at Sinfin.

How long have you cycled for?

I grew up in Hong Kong so I cycled leisurely at times but not very often, it was normally with family. I did my University degree at Cambridge and that’s when I started cycling more as everyone commutes on their bikes. I only started cycling as a hobby after I started working about 4 years ago.

Why do you cycle?

I always enjoyed the feeling of being on a bike, going into the countryside, getting some fresh air, being on my own and not having to think about other things. It’s very scenic in the UK and it’s good exercise as well. I sometimes commute to work by bike, but I’m a fair weather cyclist! When it’s sunny I ride to work.

Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?

I like to go out to Alport Heights which is a National Trust place. There is a little hill to get up there and you can see far from the top on a clear day. It’s around 10 – 15 miles North of Derby.

What is your best piece of kit?

Probably knee pads, for mountain biking. My knee pads give me more confidence to challenge myself because it doesn’t hurt as much if I do fall.

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

As an engineer, most of my cycling friends are male, but what was really nice about the team that I was working with at the time is that they encouraged me to join them and were really inclusive. I started cycling with them and the more I do it the more I enjoy it – that’s what got me into it. Most of the time I am the only woman in the cycling group, since we are all friends I don’t really mind. 

I think more general awareness would help women to get into cycling – if you are a male colleague in the workplace and you cycle with other male friends, don’t be afraid to ask female colleagues in your area if they are interested and want to join you. A lot of people in my area have not mountain biked before, we need to break down that gender stereotype – if you have a new male colleague and a new female colleague in your team, don’t just assume that only the male colleague will be interested, open up that opportunity to the female colleague as well.

How do you feel when you cycle in three words?

I might have more than three! If I had to narrow it down to three phrases, I’d probably say healthy, thrilling and connected with nature.

Additional comments:

For mountain biking, especially, it is really difficult if you do not own a car, as most trail centres and natural trails are not well connected by public transport. I also find hiring bikes quite expensive. Mountain bikes can cost £40 – £60 per day to hire them so that can put people off. It would be nice if something could be done about that to make mountain biking more accessible and affordable to more people.

I actually got into mountain biking after crashing on my road bike! It was around 3 months after buying the bike on the ride to work scheme, I didn’t break any bones but the incident left me with a few scars. After that I was scared of cycling. My teammates at work were really encouraging and helped me get back on the bike to get my confidence back and that’s when I tried mountain biking as I was told by friends it would improve my handling skills!

Living in Derby is good for mountain biking as it is close to the Peak District. I’ve also been to some trail centres in Snowdonia and the Lake District, and the Gower Way near Swansea. Last year I went to Les Arcs with friends to try some downhill mountain biking – It is a ski resort in the winter but it is turned into a mountain bike park in the summer. It has different levels so I wasn’t jumping off cliffs, just doing the blue and red grade trails like the ones in the UK. We saw some marmots as well – it was a great holiday! 

I try to go mountain biking every two weeks, road cycling is my second hobby after mountain biking and I mainly use it for commuting. Road biking is good because it is quick and convenient, whereas mountain biking requires me to drive to the trails and takes more preparation with the extra kit. There is also more cleaning involved as it is much muddier, especially in the winter! So there is more faffing with mountain biking, but I think you get better rewards as you can get to the remote areas in the countryside which would otherwise be difficult to access on foot or by car.

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