Why we cycle: Dionne Gordon

Where are you based?

I live in Derby.

What do you do?

I work for the police at their HQ in Ripley. It’s shift based work, in the control room, dealing with 101 and 999 calls.

How long have you cycled for?

Regularly since 2015, which was when I got a bike through the ride to work scheme. At that time my place of work moved from Ripley to Derby due to building maintenance work, and I thought ‘perfect, now I can cycle to work’. As I hadn’t cycled for donkeys years I enrolled on a training course; an hour a week for 6 weeks, and that really built my confidence up, especially about going on roads. It was through my cycle tutor that I learnt about ‘Breeze’ rides as well. I enjoyed my 10 minute cycle to and from work until we had to return to our usual base in Ripley a few months later. However, I have continued to ride for recreation. I didn’t learn to ride a bike as a young child, and I didn’t own a bike, but my cousin had one and I learnt to ride hers when I was about 12. When I left home and started work at the Derby Telephone Exchange, on Colyear Street I bought a really cheap bike and for a while cycled to and from work. This unfortunately involved a big hill on the way home, which I never really mastered as my brother commandeered the bike as he needed it more than me.

Why do you cycle?

Primarily for health and fitness. I take my fitness seriously and I go to the gym regularly, however I also like to be outside in the fresh air. I participate in ‘Breeze’ rides as they are very sociable and we always stop at a cafe part way along. I would rather cycle in a group, or at least with one other person: I’m not so keen on riding alone. I watched the cycling during the 2012 Olympics and I was both inspired and fascinated by competitive cycling and the skill involved. I thought Victoria Pendleton was brilliant; she got me fired up, and the first bike I bought was a Pendleton bike.

Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?

Definitely to Elvaston Castle. It’s not too far away, and I love the riverside path as there is something about being next to water. It’s very scenic and pretty, and although it’s a short route you can add onto it. Several Breeze rides go to, or start from there, so I feel I know it very well.

What is your best piece of kit?

At the moment, for winter cycling, I use a ski mask. It’s warm, lightweight and comfortable, and I also have good gloves. I find that proper cycling gear is better for keeping you dry as it seems to repel the water and dry quicker, but it’s not essential. Sometimes it’s difficult to get your temperature just right, but I’ve recently invested in some arm warmers and they’re very useful.

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

Breeze rides, being ladies only and also led by women, are a big help. I think women tend to support each other in group rides; maybe there is less ego involved. I am fairly fit, but I don’t think I’d be as comfortable on a mixed ride for fear of being left behind, although I do need a reasonable pace to keep warm in winter and the occasional hill to get the blood pumping!  Bikes can be really expensive and that can put some women off. It would be good to see more schemes where women can get hold of cheap or secondhand bikes as well as good bike fitting services. I’d like to see these more widely advertised, perhaps through posters, in the workplace as I just stumbled across the cycle to work scheme by accident. I think we have to remember that everyone has a different reason why they cycle and be supportive of that.

How do you feel when you cycle in three words?

‘Exhilarated’ (the feeling of being in the fresh air, experiencing an endorphin rush) ‘Bravo’ (a word I feel like saying to myself, as I am proud of being able to cycle) and ‘timid’ ( as I still feel I could become even more confident).

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