C: Hi Jo, would you like to say a little about yourself and what you do?

J: Hi, I’m Jo Lifford, I’ve been cycling since I was probably…I think I learned when I was 7, which is quite old, bearing in mind that both my parents are cyclists and they met whilst cycling.

I am involved with Colchester Rovers as a coach and I am also a Breeze Champion putting on bike rides for women. Furthermore, I am in the beginning of the process of creating a women-only cycling club in the area.

C: You have quite a lot going on!

J: Oh yes, plenty of things to do…Oh, and I also race as well: I do cyclo-cross racing and grass track racing.

C: Is that as part of a team or individually?

J: Just as a member of Colchester Rovers; cyclo-cross is off-road and grass track is just like a velodrome, but on grass. It’s quite hard work, but I enjoy it.

C: So going back to your idea about setting up a women-only cycling club in the area- what can you tell me about that?

J: It started off with Breeze, around last May. I went on a training course where they teach you how to lead the rides safe and through doing that I found that there were actually more women than I thought in Colchester that wanted to go on these women-only rides. It’s an introduction to cycling in a club if you can’t go as fast as 15-16 miles per hour- which a lot of people can’t do.

So what I would like to do is create a club for women where they get to improve their cycling skills and feel confident in taking part, whilst also networking with other like-minded women. I would to create the opportunity for them to talk to each other: so someone would post on their Facebook wall saying they’re going cycling and get their friends to come along- that sort of thing. In time, I would be looking at putting on events as well, maybe even a race if there are many women who join the club and want a race.

It depends largely on who joins as to where it’s going to go. I mean, I race myself, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be under the club’s name- so it’s very much up to those who join to set a direction. My aim for this year is to get a pool of people and get rides out that cater for everybody. For example, setting up different level rides, with level one being the easiest one, and then level two being slightly faster, maybe more miles and so on.

C: I think that sounds great and it’s not intimidating for someone new to sport clubs…

J: Exactly, it’s great for beginners- I mean people who already know how to ride a bike, but are more interested in those leisurely rides and socializing. Because I think cycling is about meeting new people as well and if I’m on a ride with five other people I won’t get a chance to have a proper talk with each one of them. This is why I like to stop, have a cup of tea, maybe some cake and have a chat. And also, I know quite a lot about sport and things like how to fix your bike if you have a problem or how to wear your helmet properly and I find it nice to be able to pass on that information to people who wouldn’t necessarily have asked.

C: So is this all volunteering for you?

J: Yes, it’s not for me or anybody to make any money out of it, it’s just something I would enjoy doing since I go out on my bike anyway and it’s nicer when you have people to come along with you. So I think it’s benefitting me as much as it’s benefitting everybody else.

C: Thank you so much for all this, I’m sure you’ll get a great response and I wish you the best of luck with everything!

If you would like to find out more about Jo’s women-only cycling club, please contact cyclecolchester@gmail.com

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