Summer is the ideal season to add a bit of real cycling to your exercise routine – getting some cardio while getting things done is always a good thing, and what’s more you can do it in style. Editor Heleana Quartey catches up with the rather glamorous Jools Walker (AKA Lady Velo), who is the Head of Operations for Vulpine Cycling Apparel and also guest presents on ITV4’s The Cycle Show.
I noticed on your site you mentioned having a 10-year hiatus. What motivated you get back into cycling after such a long time?
It was missing the freedom and joy that I used to get from riding my bike when I was younger which motivated me to start cycling again. By the time I turned 18, I’d completely stopped riding… this was a mix of not feeling super confident on the roads anymore and convincing myself I should just get public transport everywhere. I’d been thinking about that feeling of enjoyment and my health more and more, and when I found out my (then) employer had the cycle to work scheme available, I took that as the opportunity to get my dream bike and get back on the saddle again. 10 years away from cycling is a long time, and sure enough I had my wobbly moments, but got back into it – with the help of fellow cycling friends I built up my confidence on it and carried on. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I noticed you were on the Tweed Run, which a friend once said was “harder to get into than Glastonbury”! How was it, and how do you think cycle style has changed over the years?
Ha! Yeah, The Tweed Run is an extremely popular event and places are in high demand every time… I remember the 1st year I took part, I got a ticket and 90 seconds later all the places had gone! It was amazing this year, and was incredibly special, as the poster for this years event (by Eliza Southwood) was inspired by me! It’s one of the most gentle, well organised and friendly group rides you could ever imagine in London, and cyclists of all abilities can take part. And of course, there is all that cycle style on display! Rides like this and the popularity of them demonstrates how huge the cycle style movement has become, and continues to flourish. Looking and feeling fashionable while riding doesn’t feel like such a niche market anymore (which is great!) and there are more and more dedicated cycling fashion designers and retailers catering to our wants and needs on a bike…. this is a very good thing!
I’ve noticed you’re based in East London? What do you think is great about cycling in this part of town in comparison to others?
I’m from East London and have lived here all my life, so I’ve seen the cycling scene really develop and come into its own! East London is well known for its cycling community, and the wonderful thing about it is how diverse it is: from the fixie / single speed crowd right through to the roadies and MTB riders, its always a different mix everyday! It’s also incredibly ace to have friendly and welcoming cycling cafes / cycling friendly cafes dotted around East London to hang out in after a great ride.
Do you go on many long group rides, or do you have any planned over the summer? I missed the Dunwich Dynamo too, sadly.
I’ve done a few long group rides in my time – the latest one being Eroica Britannia in June. I sadly didn’t get a place on Ride 100 this year, but am planning to cycle London to Southend with my other half before we lose this glorious summer weather! I’m gutted about missing the Dunwich Dynamo as I had planned to be on it, so hopefully that’ll happen next year, along with more big rides.
What is your approach to wellness aside from cycling?
Eating well, running & making sure I get enough sleep are my other main approaches to wellness aside from cycling! A combination of these, along with spending plenty of time with my family and friends keeps me mentally and physically balanced.
Tell us the story of how you became a guest presenter for The Cycle Show on ITV4.
Well, that was a crazy summer back in 2012! I was invited onto the second episode of the show as a guest to talk about cycling culture in London. I’d never been on TV before, and the thought of being on a show which also had cycling legend Eddy Merckx on it was something that filled me with a mix of nerves and excitement! After doing my chat on the sofa, I was asked to Interview the “Near Naked Man” cycling group who were also guests that day. I chalked it up as being an excellent one off experience… and then got called back by Producers to be one of their guest presenters on a regular basis! I’ve been with them since the 1st series and am thrilled to be a part of a magazine show dedicated to cycling, which is something we’ve needed on our screens for so long! I’m currently filming with the show this summer, and still can’t quite believe it’s happened… so many good things in my life have come from one of my biggest loves… CYCLING!