Where are you based?
I live in Normanton.
What do you do?
I’m a poet and a herbalist, I run my own small business and I do volunteer work in mental health areas. I do a bunch of stuff!
How long have you cycled for?
I’ve been cycling on and off since I was a kid. I learnt to ride a bike when I was five, had bikes all through childhood and some of my teenage years and then on and off. When I was a teenager I didn’t really cycle between the age of 15 and 20, when I was against physical activity and going outside in general! I wasn’t super fit and grew up close to the Peak District and there were massive hills everywhere which put me off.
Why do you cycle?
To get to places. I don’t drive due to money and environmental reasons, as well as mental health reasons. I still need to get to places and public transport isn’t great and I like having something that means I can get places under my own power without having to rely on buses. I think even if I had a car or public transport was perfect I’d still have a bike as there’s something really liberating about going fast, bombing down hills and feeling the wind in my hair! The cardio has made me stronger, I also have much better thigh muscles now – sitting in the gym, doing something and not going anywhere feels pretty pointless. I find it really hard to get myself to do anything like that.
Where is your favourite place to cycle in Derby?
I really enjoy riding in the local parks that we’ve got in Derby. I love Darley Park and they have built a bike path there now as well.
What is your best piece of kit?
The only kit I have is my bike which was gifted to me by a friend who was getting a new one, otherwise I wouldn’t have a bike at all! I’ve had two bikes stolen, as well as I don’t know how many bike lights, so I do avoid getting too much nice kit. For Christmas I got a bag that goes on the luggage rack so now I’ve got panniers and a bag so I can do a massive load of shopping – it really increases the possibilities of what a bike can do!
What do you think could help more girls and women to cycle?
Good cycling infrastructure so people who aren’t that confident on the road aren’t constantly forced to dip in and out of terrifying multiple lane junctions and stuff like that – that’s definitely off putting as a lot of it is a confidence thing. So many women seem terrified of the idea of me cycling and are always telling me to be careful, so I guess they do find it scary.
And then there’s awareness and education – there is also this image of cyclists being annoying muscular guys in lycra who are obsessive and have to ride forty miles up a mountain, otherwise it’s not legit! And then at the other end there’s the image of girls having these really girly bikes with a basket that weigh a tonne. People choose those bikes because they’ve seen those cool images on Pinterest of girls with the cute bikes, but then it turns out those cute bikes only have two gears and we live in a place that has hills.
How do you feel when you cycle in three words?
Self-sufficient, pugnacious (because I have to fight traffic!) and present.
Just that cycling is amazing and it’s good for your mental health and confidence. It’s also terrifying and that should absolutely be acknowledged that it is really scary, but doing scary things is good.