Cycling UK names Berwickshire woman in its top 100 list

Inspiring story...Gill Caine has overcome health problems to run the social cycling club Puffin Cycling, which meets every Sunday for two hours of fun.
Inspiring story...Gill Caine has overcome health problems to run the social cycling club Puffin Cycling, which meets every Sunday for two hours of fun.

A Burnmouth woman has been named in Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cyling ... and no-one was more surprised than the modest recipient, Gill Caine!

For while she knew a friend had nominated her for the accolade, she never dreamed she’d make the list.

Leading the way...Gill inspired others in her Puffin Cycling group to take on their first 100 mile coast to coast in September 2018.

Leading the way...Gill inspired others in her Puffin Cycling group to take on their first 100 mile coast to coast in September 2018.

So when another friend texted her to tell her the news, she was flummoxed!

Gill (56) from Burnmouth said: “I used to cycle with Fiona Hunt, who organises a cycle group in Peebles.

“She asked if she could nominate me; I was quite bemused at first.

“I thought they’re not going to be interested in some little cycling group in Berwickshire.

“So I said yes as it was nice to be nominated, thinking I’d never hear anything back from them.

“Then one of my friends messaged me to say she’d seen it on Facebook – that’s how I found out!

“I couldn’t quite believe it but I felt quite honoured and humbled. I just do what I do for fun, not for accolades.

“I’m not someone who likes a lot of fuss but it was nice to receive the certificate and it’s a great way for more people to find out about Puffin Cycling.”

It’s thanks to founding that group in Eyemouth that Gill is now deemed one of the most inspiring women cyclists in the UK.

Her love of cycling began in 1995 when she gave up rugby “as I was getting to an age when I was aching a lot”.

The fomer Berwickshire High pupil had worked in Northamptonshire for many years but moved back home in 2008 with her husband Tim, a crop manager with Drysdales Vegetable Growers in Cockburnspath, who is also a competitive cyclist.

It was an ideal area for Gill, who works in software support and training for an IT company, to resume cycling.

However, she started suffering joint pain and went from being fit and active to hardly being able to shuffle across the road.

After tests and x-rays, she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2009 which resulted in her having two hip replacements in 2010 and a wrist fusion in 2016.

But Gill was determined to get back on her bike and in May 2011, while on holiday down south, she completed her first 50 mile ride with friends – after two years out of the saddle.

With weekly injections and medication to tackle the arthritis, Gill hasn’t stopped since – completing one special cycle in 2012 to toast her 50th birthday.

She said: “I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my 50th and decided that, rather than a party, I wanted to cycle from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

“One of my friends, Dea Ditchfield, was daft enough to join me so we did it in the space of 14 days in September 2012.

“When I got to John o’Groats I said to Dea to never let me sign up for anything like that again because I was so tired.

“But a week later, I signed up to to do Dover to Cape Wraith, again with Dea – another 998 miles! We did that in July 2013.”

That convinced Gill that she was fit enough to join a competitive cycling club, the Berwick Wheelers in 2013.

And a year later she won the ladies 10 mile championship title.

In 2015, she hit on the idea of setting up her own business, Puffin Cycling, but ill health stood in her way.

She explained: “It was going to be a cycling touring business – I had it all planned and the logo sorted.

“But the athritis started to really impact on my wrists and scuppered my plans.

“A metal plate was inserted in my wrist so I can’t bend it back and forward.

“I’ve just adapted how I hold the handlebars but it was an end to the business.”

However, Gill decided to forge ahead with Puffin Cycling as a social cycling group, with no money changing hands.

An incredible success story, three groups of up to 30 people met every Sunday up until the summer.

However, the faster cyclists have now joined Berwick Wheelers.

Gill added: “It was getting a bit unwieldy so we’re back to one group of about 19 of us who go at a pace everyone can manage.

“It’s for all abilities – we even have a lady in her 70s on an electric bike.

“It’s not a competitive club; it’s just a two hour ride where we can socialise and have fun on our bikes.

“We’ve also raised money for local charities at our Christmas lunch and birthday whip-rounds.

“I can’t believe how much demand there’s been for it.”

To find out more or to sign up, visit www.facebook.com/puffincycling.

Girls, it’s time to inspire others!

Gill Caine has joined Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, TV presenter Angellica Bell and triple Olympic medallist, Victoria Pendleton in Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling list.

They have all been recognised in celebration of the amazing work they’ve done to inspire other women to cycle.

Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle.

The list was compiled as part of the Women’s Festival of Cycling which runs through July to raise the profile of women’s cycling, putting on events to encourage more women to get back in the saddle.

It is estimated that only one million women in the UK cycle regularly – just three per cent of the population – with many more bike journeys made by men than women.

The Women’s Festival of Cycling aims to address that imbalance.

In a recent poll carried out by YouGov, on behalf of Cycling UK, 36 per cent of women said they would be inspired to cycle more with the encouragement of friends and family.

So the charity is challenging every female cyclist in the UK to enlist at least one more.

Helen Cook, the charity’s head of engagement, said: “Sadly, women remain under represented when it comes to everyday cycling.

“The gauntlet we’re throwing down is for every woman who already cycles regularly to find just one more woman they can help and inspire to get back on their bike.”

To make an online pledge to encourage another woman to cycle, visit the pledge page at www.cyclinguk.org/pledge.

And to find out more about the Women’s Festival of Cycling and view a full list of all the nominees, visit the website www.cyclinguk.org/womensfestival.