Interview with Niki Wilson

Number of bikes?

Three bikes: a single speed, and two Decathlon specials.

What do you do for a living?

I am a librarian for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. It’s fine but the main thing really is that we have a great café and also my ride to work is pretty good.

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

A few years ago I bought a road bike after doing the London to Brighton charity ride on a flat barred hybrid and getting a lot of hand pain. I started riding the road bike to work after a job change allowed me to cycle in, and I enjoyed that, so then I started wondering how people find nice routes in the countryside.

I did some Googling, found Penge CC, and a few weeks later I’d joined!

How long have you cycled with Penge CC?

I joined in August 2015, so 4 years now.

Which group do you cycle with?

I flit between Short 3 and Long 2 but can often be found leading very long rides on a Sunday, or doing shorter ones on weekday evenings.

What do you like about riding with Penge CC?

Loads of things! The different people you meet; the fact that you end up having pals who are willing to cycle with you pretty much any time you want; the camaraderie on a Sunday morning outside the shop and in the Kent lanes; the encouragement, advice and banter you get.

I also love our social events and being able to chat to those who ride in other groups. We’re a super-welcoming club and it really does feel like a big family sometimes.

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

Penge is a great club for women as we’re not treated in a special way, and I think that’s how we like it. We don’t have women-only rides, for example, and sometimes, yes, I’ll find myself being the only woman in a group but I can honestly say I have never been treated differently because of my gender. We are growing our female membership, so it’s an exciting time to be a woman in Penge CC too, with women from Penge getting involved in a lot of different things: audaxes, racing, sportives, track. It’s pretty cool.

What is your proudest achievement in cycling?

Probably being awarded most improved female member at the Penge CC Christmas Drinks in 2016. I also won most improved female time trial rider. The encouragement and support I got on that evening was amazing and I won’t ever forget it.

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

The most enjoyable thing I did in 2017 on a bike was Land’s End to John O’Groats (which you can read about here): I did it unsupported in 9 days with my partner Mike who is also a Penge CC rider. I plotted the route myself and planned all our stops and it was just an incredible journey. We did it at the start of that long heatwave and had barely any rain for the entire 1600km which was very unexpected. Scotland was amazing, I want to go back.

What advice would you give to someone getting into cycling?

I’d say just get out and ride as much as you can (and as much as you find enjoyable). Also there are no rules: ride a cheap bike. Ride an expensive one. Wear lycra. Don’t. Clip in. Or not. Ride far. Ride little. It’s up to you. Find your niche, whether it’s a pootle for cake and coffee, or smashing it round Herne Hill Velodrome, or doing 200km+ days in the saddle, you’ll find it.

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

Earlier this year I did a 600km audax in just under 39 hours, an hour under the cut-off time. It was ridiculous but also great. We had a 4-hour sleep in a Travelodge in Stockport. What more could you want?