On the Street: We Hear from Nottingham's Residents About Their Love for Cycling and Favourite Biking Memories

Interview: Lizzy O'Riordan and Gemma Cockrell
Monday 12 September 2022
reading time: min, words

Like any good local journalists worth their salt, we wanted to head out into the community and learn more about you lot. And with this month's theme being all things bicycle, this seemed like a good place to start. From those who cycle thousands of miles for charity to others who pop on the bike for a quick neighbourhood ride, Nottingham definitely has its fair share of cyclists. For some, the love of the sport stems from childhood, while for others it’s a recent venture. Yet they all have one thing in common - an undying devotion to cycling and all the places it can take them...



Roger Turner
I bought my first bike when I was thirteen, back in 1971, from the income I received from a paper round. It was an amazing Raleigh Carlton road bike. However, I got back into biking again about ten years ago when I realised my body wouldn’t allow me to continue running any longer, and I bought a new Giant mountain bike. I’ve completed quite a few MTB routes using the Giant MTB, including Sherwood Pines, Cannock Chase, Dalby Forest, a couple of routes at Castle Douglas, and the brilliant Penmachno at Betws y Coed. Nowadays I tend to mainly do local rides, but they are just as lovely. I either ride alone, or sometimes I’m joined by my sons - currently aged thirty and 26. Riding alone is great to be able to push myself just a little, but I do prefer riding with someone else for the social aspect. The best memory I have is the mountain bike trail at Penmachno at Betws y Coed, which I completed with three friends. It was eighteen miles of pure fun with some amazing roller coaster routes around the forest. I don’t cycle quite as much or as hard as I used to due to me suffering a heart attack almost exactly three years ago, but cycling has massively enriched my life and I still get out on my bike at least once or twice a week, always with a helmet for safety!


Emily Wilczek
I learnt to cycle when I was a child and have always had a bike for getting around town and occasional longer rides out. But, it wasn’t until lockdown that I took up cycling more regularly: I needed to get fresh air, exercise and a space away from people. Now I cycle about fifty miles a week on my Raleigh Mixte bike. It’s an ex-hire bike from Bunny’s so it was well looked after when I bought it fifteen years ago - the only change I’ve made is to add a seat on the back for my daughter! This meant that I could take her (then nine months old) on her first big trip to Beeston and back. It was only 10 miles but felt like an epic adventure at the time. So, I really love that bike, alongside the 1950’s touring bike that I recently bought, made by George Longstaff. Aside from solo rides, I also ride with Notts Cycle Touring Club, they’ve been a brilliant group to join to get to know local routes. The thing I like the most about them is that they’re always affable and kind and make sure nobody gets left behind. I’ve started to lead rides with them and am often exploring bridleways and byways as potential routes. In the future I’m also going to be working with Women in Tandem to help on some of their rides too, they've been brilliant at broadening participation in cycling in the city and I really like their ethos. 


Martyn Jackson
I didn’t really cycle until recently. It wasn’t until April this year that I really got into it, when I signed up to ride 1000 miles for the SANDS - the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity. Now I’m part of a team of twelve who will ride 12,000 miles between us. We’re all school mates and none of us were cyclists until now. It’s great fun, a good get-together and it keeps us all in touch more than we perhaps would have been before. Even though I’ve only been cycling for such a short time I already have some great memories, primarily finishing the London to Brighton bike ride after having an accident on the way and ending up in hospital for stitches. I managed to get a transport to about a mile out from the finish line, hire a local Boris bike and ride the final mile to the finish line. I found my mates waiting, refusing to cross the finish line until before I had arrived. I love cycling with them, as well as riding with my nineteen-month-old daughter in the child seat in front of me.


Rachael Hemmings
I began seriously riding back in 2008 when my mate and I decided to train for the London to Paris ride. Now I ride every single day. I have two bikes - a Trek Lexa for speedy riding and a 1980s classic Raleigh Nova that is my daily commute. I don’t ride with a club or anything. Instead, I ride with my mate Cathy, mainly, or go out on my own. It's a social and fitness thing for me. I don’t have all the up-to-date gear and I’m usually sponsored by Aldi in the clothing department. I also use my Raleigh for getting to and from work. I live in Sneinton and work mostly in the city as a gardener, so I usually fill my rucksack with tools for that job. It’s pure pleasure and I like being out enjoying the landscapes regardless of the weather. Even if you sometimes feel pants getting in the saddle, you end up feeling so much better afterwards. It gives me time to think, reflect and be at one with my trusty steed. None of my family really understand as they’re not avid cyclists, but I think they’ve realised how much cycling is part of my life. I just really love it.


Martin Somerville 
I cycle with my family and friends. But I feel an affinity with anyone riding around on anything other than a car - scooters, trikes, bikes, no doubt there'll be weirder, more wonderful vehicles to pedal soon.I love the human pace and the flexibility to go almost anywhere, stop almost anytime, and the fact I can fix and modify the bike pretty quickly and easily. I love walking, but riding a bike is like flying. Right now I have a cobbled together long-tail cargo bike, onto which I recently added an electric motor and soldered together a battery clip so I could use my tool batteries to power the bike. With a trailer on the back it's more like a train and I can haul 5 people. I use it for work, play and life. We used to have a van which seemed pretty essential for hauling big bits of wood and tools around for work, but the engine blew up 3 years ago and we decided to just see what it was like without a motor vehicle for a while. Turns out, it’s great. I think in Sneinton Market there is still a pretty prevalent car culture which is understandable. But because a lot of business is local it could absolutely change to a communal cargo bike hub. I think there is a desire to move that direction, but it just takes time!


Matty Hill and Tom Liversidge
We started cycling when we were very young. Fast-forward to our early twenties and we still love it because it’s very cheap, good for the environment, and much faster and more interesting than walking. At the time of writing this, we have just graduated from the University of Nottingham and we are currently cycling a journey of over 1000 miles, from John O’Groats to Dover, on cheap and aged bikes. We wanted to do this challenge because we knew it would be fun, and also because we knew it would be a bit difficult as well. Our favourite memory from the trip so far is stumbling in on a random open mic in a village outside of Perth. We went in for one drink and ended up staying all night singing endless songs, meeting great people and staying down the road with a local who had just moved in. We’re trying to live as cheaply as we can, and see how far we can make it - hopefully, by the time you read this, we will have made it to Dover!


Nikyla Manners 
It can be a little daunting getting into cycling when you’re overweight, especially because of all the lycra! But with the help of online groups, I’ve been able to find gear that fits and now I proudly wear my ‘Fat Lass at the Back’ jersey. And so far, all the response from the cycling community has been really positive and encouraging. I’m not part of a cycling club but I am going to Belgium soon with some friends to raise money for charity. I’m also part of a lot of great cycling communities on social media, like Women in Tandem and Fat Lad at the Back. If you were to ask me why I cycle, I’d say that there are so many different reasons: I enjoy it and like the challenge of riding long distances, it's a wonderful way to start the day and it gives me time to unwind afterwards. Plus, it makes me feel like I'm doing my bit towards caring for the environment. I have so many great cycling memories but I’m most proud of finishing the New Forest Sportive. It was the first competitive ride I did and I finished last. A finish is a finish though! Everyone cheered me in at the end.


Thomas Hutchison
I first got into cycling to get some exercise while I was doing my GCSEs, because I had to stop playing rugby at the time due to an injury. When I first got into cycling, I used a borrowed road bike from my stepdad, but now I use a carbon road bike that’s much faster and flashier than what I’ve had previously! I’m about as active as you can be in the cycling community. I organise around ten races per year for grassroots racing and for universities across Britain, as well as helping at parts of the National Series and the National Championships. My best cycling memory is completing the North Coast 500 in Scotland last summer, which was a massive challenge but worth it for the great views. Another great memory that I have is when I worked at the National Hillclimb Championships at Winnats Pass last year. The crowds were massive and the atmosphere was amazing, despite the torrential rain and sleet. I ended up throwing more foil blankets around cyclists than I’ve ever done before!

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