Number of bikes?
Three: Liv Lagma road bike, an old Giant Avail road bike and a Ridgeback hybrid.
What do you do for a living?
Retired Paediatric Physiotherapist.
How did you get into cycling and what made you join Penge CC?
I had been a regular runner for many years but wanted an alternative social form of exercise. I had a few friends who cycled and recommended contacting a local club.
I Googled cycle clubs and found Penge CC who at that time were running introductory “women only” rides. I borrowed a bike and joined a group of around seven other women. The people I met were friendly and supportive and I continued with these weekly rides over the summer and was immediately hooked. I signed up to the cycle to work scheme and bought myself a road bike.
How long have you cycled with Penge CC?
Over 10 years now [in 2022]. I progressed to longer faster rides and was involved with setting up the Sunday morning club group rides. These are for either sex and cater for people who want a more leisurely pace to fast paced rides for the very fit rider. Distances and speeds vary with over 9 different rides on offer every week.
Socialising with a mixed group and stopping for coffee in the sunshine adds to the enjoyment. I have met so many amazing people through the club from all different walks of life.
Which group do you cycle with?
I currently cycle with Short 2 or Long 1.
I have been a ride leader for many years now. I used to be fitter than I currently am, but in 2017 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, and underwent 6 months of treatment including chemotherapy. I was unable to work for 9 months, but worst of all I could not cycle during my chemo. I missed this more than anything.
The club members were amazing, I felt so well supported during my (at times very hard) journey back to fitness. I can honestly say that Penge CC was instrumental in my road to recovery. Touch wood I am in remission from the Hodgkin’s but have been left with a slightly dodgy heart from the chemo which restricts how fit I can get again but cannot take away the joy I get from cycling with my amazing Penge CC buddies.
Why do you think Penge CC is a good club for women?
Compared to other cycling clubs we have a higher proportion of female members. This is no accident: women are not only welcomed but positively encouraged. I am now the diversity officer for Penge CC and part of my role is to encourage more women to Cycle with the club.
Women are involved at every level, on the committee, ride leading, and competitive cycling. We are proud that we cycle together with male members and choose not to have separate “women only” rides. Word spreads and the female membership continues to rise. We were recently featured in Cycling Weekly magazine as a female friendly club. It is a warm, supportive and very friendly environment for people of any gender identity or sexual orientation.
What is your proudest achievement in cycling?
I have cycled many sportives, and the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on two occasions, but I think just getting back out there after illness and losing confidence has been my proudest achievement.
What was the most enjoyable thing you did on a bike this year?
Joining other club members on a 100 mile group ride to Dungeness, along with post Covid cycling holidays to Jordan and Spain.
What advice would you give to someone getting into cycling?
Don’t worry what anyone else thinks, just take that first step and you won’t regret it. Start with a ride easier than you think you can manage so you don’t stress yourself. Borrow a bike if you don’t have one – Lewisham Council rent bikes for about £10 for a month to encourage people to get started. But be prepared to be hooked – there is a world of bikes and cycling gadgets out there to drain your bank account.
Which inspirational female sportsperson do you most admire and why?
Nobody famous. Just some of the women in the club who all started as normal cyclists in the same group as me and have gone on to achieve amazing things!
What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done on a bike?
Probably a ‘Bride Ride’ where a group of us cycled to Downe and back in fancy dress to celebrate an up-coming wedding. I was dressed in a giraffe onesie!