It’s not unusual to hear people saying they’d like to take up cycling, maybe even have a go at racing, but they’re too old. Detta Guerrini proves that it’s entirely possible to remain competitive after 40, the age she started cycling. Now aged 46, she’s an active member of London Dynamo and rides as a guest for the famous Look Mum No Hands! team.
When and how did you first get into cycling?
About six years ago. When on a windsurf holiday, and the wind refused to blow, rather than sit around the beach I went out mountain biking with a bunch of guys, loved it and realized I could beat them up all the hills!
What do you love most about the sport?
I love the thrill of racing and the sense of freedom on long training rides.
Where would you like to be at this time next year?
Somewhere warmer to ride my bike.
What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Hopefully we can look forward to higher participation levels across all levels, greater media interest and equal prize money….. the sport has come a long way in the last 12 months and it’s great that so many of the big names like Lizzie Armistead, Nicole Cooke, Emma Pooley and Helen Wyman have been so vocal about the need for change. One has to be quietly optimistic…..
In 2014, a lot of fans got more involved in women’s cycling by helping to promote races and riders. Do you have any ideas what we can do to help even more?
I think in the first instance greater co-ordination is needed. There have been too many unfortunate fixture clashes which has meant that many people have gone to great effort to promote races for women but not had the numbers showing up that they’d hoped for. I also think that at grass roots level, the women who compete in leagues and local road races should be encouraged to marshall or help organise an event at least once a year. Also we should support local initiatives like the Surrey League and the South East Women’s TT series. Success breeds success after all!!
Which is your favourite race, either one you enjoy riding or love to watch? Why?
An Post Ras na mBan. The 5 day international women’s stage race in Ireland. It was my first stage race and I went over there with the only pretext of trying to stay upright. It was the most beautiful, exhilarating and well organised race I have experienced, and I managed to finish top ten.
Here are the keys for the Neutral Service time machine – you can use it to meet anyone in cycling history. Who’s it gonna be?
Beryl Burton. Oh and can I meet Cav?
There are still some people out there who think women’s racing isn’t as interesting or competitive as men’s racing. What would you say to convince them otherwise?
I’m not sure you will ever be able to convince everyone (normally overweight, middle-aged and having never managed to compete in anything themselves).
What should the UCI and British Cycling be doing for women’s cycling?
Create more women’s races, by running them along side men’s. Encourage pro teams to support a women’s squad. Better media coverage and of course fairer wages for pros.
When you retire from competition, would you like to stay involved with cycling in some capacity, perhaps as a National Federation official?
In some capacity yes. I don’t feel I’ve learnt enough about racing and competing yet to retire anytime soon, although I am very old.
I think we’re all agreed that 2014 was an incredible year in women’s cycling, especially here in the UK. What was the highlight of the racing season for you – either from your own races or from women’s cycling in general?
Being able to compete alongside such legends as Dame Sarah Storey, Lizzie Armistead, Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Emma Pooley in last year’s National Road Race and Time Trial Championships was a definite highlight.
Last question, and it’s the one that top psychologists agree reveals more about a person than any other: which is better – cats or dogs?
Dogs, but only big ones.