Interview with Rachel Lynn (1983-2023)

Number of bikes?

Two road bikes, soon to buy a mountain bike for some off-road adventures.

What do you do for a living?

Primary school teacher.

How did you get into cycling, and what made you join Penge CC?

My husband became obsessed with cycling, and instead of becoming a ‘cycling widow’, I started going out with him occasionally and gradually fell in love with it myself! I wanted to join a club to ride with people my own speed instead of always being left behind, and Penge CC seemed quite inclusive.

On my first ride, I was so nervous, but a couple of riders took me under their wing and ‘babysat’ me around the route – I was way slower than most of the group. But I went back and have made lots of progress, building up my distance and speed. I feel like other clubs may not have been as accepting of me on that ride, and I was so grateful that I was well looked after and encouraged to come back.

Now I’m the one who suggests the majority of our crazy cycling challenges and holidays!

How long have you cycled with Penge CC?

Four and a half years. I joined back in the days when less than ten people would turn up at the shop on a Sunday morning, and there’d usually be a faster group and a slower group.

Which group do you cycle with?

Generally, Long 2 or Short 3.

What do you like about riding with Penge CC?

It’s so welcoming and friendly. Even if I don’t know anyone on a ride, everyone chats with everyone and is happy to encourage anyone having a ‘slow day’ (which we all have sometimes!).

Why do you think Penge CC is a good club for women?

Even though there were very few women in the club when I joined, I never found it an issue. The men are just as welcoming as the women! Since I joined, however, the number of women at all levels through the club has increased dramatically, and that can be reassuring when you’re looking for a club. It’s not all super-fast lycra-clad men!

What is your proudest achievement in cycling?

Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats this year. It’s such an amazing way to see the UK, and feels great to know you travelled the entire length of the country under your own steam.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did on a bike this year?

I’ve had such an enjoyable year on my bike this year – too many sportives and holidays/tours to choose from. I loved the Little Lumpy sportive, which lots of Penge CC members rode. It was a stunning route, lovely weather, and we all waited for each other at the finish line with a beer – the kind of thing Penge CC does best!

What advice would you give to someone getting into cycling?

Just do it! It’s so much fun, and there are so many opportunities and experiences waiting for you. I’ve seen so much of the world and met so many amazing people since I got on my bike!

Which inspirational female sportsperson do you most admire and why?

Not one person in particular, but I’ve recently started following a few women on social media who go on bikepacking adventures around the world, generally on their own. They travel such incredible distances over mountains, through deserts, and in all weathers. I look at their photos enviously and admire them so much for being brave enough to do this on their own, often in very remote parts of the world. Maybe that’ll be me one day!

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done on a bike?

Deciding to take my road bike on the South Downs Way, thinking it would be a ‘shortcut’. It’s most definitely an off-road route, not designed for skinny tyres, and I ended up skidding and falling up rocky hills, then carrying my bike for what felt like miles – never trust Garmin on-route routing!

Rachel tragically died in 2023 following an accident in South America.