Study area: Oxford
Cycling history: Diminished
Themes: Fitness, Weight, Training, Traffic, Topography, Safety, Weather, Mobility
Val was a retired nurse living in Cumnor, on the western outskirts of Oxford with her husband. They had moved there four years ago and were in the process of renovating properties to enable their two sons and their families to live with them.
Growing up in SW London, Val used her bike to ‘go everywhere’, cycling to secondary school daily. But as a teenager she stopped cycling as it was no longer seen as ‘cool’. She didn’t use a bike during her time as a student but bought a car for commuting when she started her job as a nurse. Having two children, then travelling overland to live in New Zealand and having a preference for walking as a main leisure activity meant cycling was largely absent from her life. Returning to live in Oxfordshire in 1984 Val and her husband bought hybrid bikes which she used locally with their children and did limited commuting. Val had health issues which limited her activities in the last few years including a shoulder injury and surgery on her feet. These were now resolved but had meant she had put on weight and wasn’t as physically fit as she would have liked. After the death of her parents, who she had been caring for, she had more time available for cycling.
In this film Val describes the positive impact that the cycle training she received had on her confidence. She also recounts how she found riding an E-bike safer, more flexible for things like shopping in central Oxford as well as being a great help tackling a major hill on her journey home – this had left her feeling ‘spoiled’ in comparison with using her pedal cycle.