Happy Cyclist

Abi Masha

Our November '23 Belle

Off to a good start

My mother taught me to ride a bike when I was 5, but even before then cycling had been a big part of my life. My mum never learnt to drive so she used to cycle everywhere right up until she retired a few years ago aged 70. I remember sitting behind her on the child seat as she cycled along country lanes to take me to my nan’s house just a few miles away. That was until my legs got too long and on at least two occasions my wellies were destroyed, having got trapped in the back wheel spokes! 
I remember being about 7 or 8 and all the kids on my street having bikes – mine was a blue and silver Raleigh and I absolutely loved it, even though BMXs were popular in those days. One of my favourite childhood memories is of a time I was allowed to go out with my older brother (then aged 13) and his friends; we were allowed (I think) to ride to the neighbouring town and back, and set off in single file on the road, making sure we stayed close to the kerb. We were out all day. It must have been a lot safer back then, or our parents were just a lot more permissive – either way we felt safe and no one seemed too concerned about where we’d been.

A bit on and off for a while

After I outgrew my Raleigh (sad times), my parents didn’t have the money to replace it so I lost interest in cycling and didn’t ride again until I reached my mid-twenties. At that point I’d moved back to my hometown in Surrey after finishing university and I didn’t have a car so my uncle got me a second-hand mountain bike and I rediscovered the freedom of heading out on two wheels. I mostly used it for commuting to and from work, so I was out in all seasons and weathers! I loved being back in the saddle as I’d spent most of the past decade barely exercising at all, and I made great gains on the bike  
Since moving to Bingley 10 years ago, I’d been wanting to get out on the tow path so I signed up for a bike through my company’s Cycle to Work scheme. I didn’t get to use it much though as I fell pregnant soon after. When my first child was a year old, I got him a seat for the front of my new bike. Unfortunately, he was a nervous passenger and didn’t enjoy it so the new seat and the bike got packed away for several years. Sadly, neither of my children, even now that they’re bigger, has ever developed an interest in bikes so I haven’t been able to resume cycling until very recently.

A time of rediscovery

I discovered Bingley Belles by chance through a community Facebook group and it was just what I’d been hoping for – I’d always thought that cycling groups were just for gangs of middle-aged Bradley Wiggins wannabes and often wondered why there weren’t groups for people like me who just want to go at a leisurely pace? 

In October I went on my first introductory ride to Roberts Park and this month set off on a more challenging two-cake ride to Bolton Woods. It was a revelation! I managed to cycle further and up much steeper hills than I’d thought was possible! I have also joined the Thursday Barbelles group, which I’m sure is doing wonders for my glutes and overall stamina.  

I certainly feel a lot more confident riding now – special thanks go out to Jane for explaining how my front and back gears work, and to Judy for leading the group up those hills and being an inspiration for us all to just keep going! 

I am looking forward to joining more rides in 2024 and discovering new routes around our beautiful local area, maybe even venturing further afield on a three-cake ride someday. 

Abi Masha's favourite ride

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