South West London DA: Sou' Wester Archive
Profile of Jen Mitchell

Profile: Jen Mitchell - (Jul/Aug 2005)

I was born in Hampstead in North London too many years ago! My dad had his own bakery in Essex Road, Islington and we lived above it.

I remember getting my first bike for Christmas when I was about 8. I had been really disappointed as I badgered Mum and Dad for a bike the previous Christmas. But it hadn't materialised, so I was very excited when Dad carried it into the kitchen that year.

We, myself and my two brothers: Philip and Richard, used to ride round Cherry Tree Woods in East Finchley after school. But it wasn't until 1983 when my sister Cath and I drove Richard up to the National Track Championships at Leicester that I really got the bug.

He was only eleven then and had wanted a telescope. Not finding one to his high specifications, he bought a bike instead. Without that crucial decision I would probably never have got into cycling, so, thanks Rich for introducing me to a great sport – and a great husband!

Cath and I were talked into doing the London to Brighton the year after. Neither of us had done much riding, so it was quite a challenge. I fell off but managed to make it to Brighton. Lots of chocolate was what got me there! After that, I started riding part of the way to work in Vauxhall. It was a 29 miles round trip from my boyfriend's house in Banstead so it took me a good few years to build up the stamina to do it every day.

My sister and I had started learning ballet at ages 6 and 4. I really loved it and my goal was to be a classical ballet dancer, in the mode of Fonteyn. Cath and I went to weekly classes and we both passed Grade 4. Mum used to take us to Covent Garden to see the Royal Ballet. That was brilliant as we got to see lots of different ballet stars of the time. We also learnt the piano. But I didn't like practicing all those scales, they were exercises to keep your fingers strong but were not nice to listen to and very boring… but I'm glad now that I learnt and I still love classical music. My mum and my sister are now both Keep Fit teachers and we all take part in learning and performing dances with the KFA. Last year all three of us performed at the Albert Hall while another year we were in a production of The Titanic. I had a little solo as I was supposed to be Kate Winslett. It was the most terrifying thing I have done in my life.

My racing days started in 1987 with the Southern Velo. I did Time Trials and Road Racing. My most satisfying achievements were managing to do a short 23 for a 10 miles time trial and just missing the hour by two seconds for a 25! Also I rode a three day race in Essex with Russian and Dutch teams which was a real eye opener, but a brilliant experience. The most memorable ride was on a holiday through the Pyrenees. The climb up Le Tourmalet was a killer.

Nowadays I ride with the Midweek Wayfarers on my 'comfy' Dawes Galaxy. Sometimes I go training on a Thursday with the 'Over the Hill Gang'. I joined the Kingston Phoenix with its fine bevy of lady riders in about 2000. I had already met Simon in 1999 via Frank O'Connor (Secretary of the Cheam and Morden at the time and whom I had met at French Language Classes.)

After a holiday to Majorca with Simon, sister Jake and co, I decided he was rather nice! Needless to say my Dad made our Wedding Cake and we were married in the church at the end of our road – so I was able to walk to the ceremony. Steve Gordon made some fine home brews and Ann Bath and Andrew Hewett acted as waiter and waitress. Everyone enjoyed the day. After the speeches Simon certainly did and I had a ball. Of course we had the obligatory wheels held overhead as we left the church porch.

Simon and I live with Pete Mitchell, now father-in-law of course, in West Ewell. We live with two cats in tow and loads of bikes. Last November I treated myself to a fantastic road racing bike. It's a Pinarello and it's a dream to ride and is my motivation to try and speed up a bit in the future – and keep up with Simon on the hills in Majorca. (ha ha).