Newport cyclist Diane named in list of 100 inspirational women
Written by Harvey Williamson on July 19, 2020
A Newport woman who got on her bike to help beat cancer has been named in a list of inspirational female cyclists.
Diane Ford was a relative stranger to cycling until she married into the Jeggo family of Newport, who ran a bike shop and promoted national road racing events.
Her diagnosis of breast cancer in 2008 prompted her to turn to cycling to help her keep fit and battle the illness, and she has now been cancer-free for over a decade.
The couple live just outside Newport and run popular events like the Newport Nocturne, while Diane has become an ambassador for Breeze, a national initiative to get more women into riding bikes for fun.
She was included with Olympics superstars like Laura Kenny CBE, née Trott, and Nicole Cooke MBE in a list of ‘100 Women in Cycling 2020’ by Cycling UK.
‘I loved the scenery and camaraderie of a bike ride’
Mrs Jeggo said she was “proud and humbled” to be named alongside her “sporting heroes” for her work as a community ambassador.
“I loved watching cycling, but didn’t ride until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008,” she said. “I felt I needed to get fitter to combat ‘Cedric’ and to ensure he wouldn’t return.
“For each of my 25 radiotherapy sessions, I decided to do 30 minutes on the turbo, giving me 12.5 hours of exercise that I wouldn’t have ordinarily done.
“To begin with, to ride to the end of our lane and back was a huge achievement. I’m now a 100km girl when I’m fit.
“Before my cancer diagnosis, a gang of us used to go to an amazing bike hotel in Emilia-Romagna. To start with, I was a cycling widow, but post-cancer I started riding on holiday too.
“I loved the scenery (but not the endless hills) and camaraderie of a bike ride and sharing good food and stories afterwards.
“After redundancy from my senior banking position in 2013, the hotel owner invited me to work there for the autumn bike season. I didn’t need asking twice.
“I would accompany the slower, shorter rides and loved the feeling of pride and sense of achievement when a customer thanked me for encouraging and for looking after them.”
She said that helping to get other women into cycling felt natural to her.
“The natural progression for me was to become a HSBC UK British Cycling Breeze champion. I qualified five years ago, and still get the same buzz after a ride now when I see ladies’ confidence and competence increasing with each ride.
“Husband Nick is an event organiser and commentator. Together we promote quirky events such as the Newport Nocturne and the Queen Victoria Cyclocross.
“I started assisting out on the mic when he needed a break and now, I get employed too.
“I use this as an opportunity to champion getting people on bikes and will always be heard talking about British Cycling’s Go-Ride programme, plus Breeze and club riding whenever I can get a mic in my hand.
‘I’m extremely passionate about getting bums on saddles’
“I compèred the three Breeze Challenge women-only sportives, which still rank as some of my favourite events ever. British Cycling heard me talking about my cycling and health journey and invited me to be an ambassador for the ‘Breeze Inspires’ campaign, alongside several inspiring individuals with their own stories of how they got into cycling and Breeze.
“Another favourite gig of mine was hosting the VeloVixen Women’s Cycling Hub at the NEC Cycle Show where I had the opportunity to interview a plethora of wonderful world and Olympic champions and other inspiring ladies.
“I’m extremely passionate about getting bums on saddles. I’m an enthusiastic advocate for the kids in Newport Shropshire Cycling Club’s Bike Club, but my real passion is for women’s cycling.
“I’m truly fortunate to be able to have the platform to be able to encourage people to ride. Nowadays my circle of friends are mainly cyclists, we don’t take it too seriously, we love sharing the simple joy of a bike ride with mates.
“I know that fresh air and green spaces are so good for not just the body, but the mind too. Oh, and cake, there’s always the joy of guilt-free cake.”