Catherine Brown

Our December '23 Belle

Starting out in an empty carpark

I probably had the usual childhood experience of learning to ride a bike. I remember wobbling around in an empty office car park trying to get the hang of not having stabilisers. In the summer my dad would take us for rides round the block. He was always very strict about road safety even though the roads were very quiet. We also had family bike rides on the canal. As I got older, my bike became my means of transport.

Growing up

I grew up in Cheshire so it was nice and flat. I would go out on my bike to see friends, or to help out at the local riding school. When I got my first weekend job, I had to cycle there and back. I had to go down a farm track so was always getting punctures from all the thorns when they cut the hedges in summer. I probably took for granted the feeling of freedom riding a bike gave me.
When I left home to go to university in Leeds I didn’t take my bike. It was easier just to walk everywhere or occasionally get the bus. When I got my first 9-5 job I was inspired by a colleague who was in his 50s and regularly cycled to work. I hated driving in rush hour traffic and the buses were even worse so I decided to give it a go. The first day I was absolutely knackered and didn’t have the energy to do a full day’s work. But I got used to it and enjoyed the fact I was getting in my exercise as part of my working day, as well as helping the environment by not using my car. I was living and working in Leeds at the time so it took me awhile to get used to the traffic, but those road safety lessons from my dad came in handy!

And life moves on

Since then I have moved jobs to Bradford and then moved house to Bingley, so I have gradually had to tackle bigger and bigger hills. I have always managed to find a route to work by taking more quiet roads or using the cycle or bus lanes on busier roads. I had a job in York for awhile and used to take my bike on the train. It was great as it’s such as cycle friendly city. I used to do home visits and no one batted an eyelid when I turned up with my bike and asked if there was somewhere I could leave it.
As well as commuting, I have done a couple of sprint triathlons in the past and also a charity cycle ride from Liverpool to Leeds along the canal.
Since having my son I have taken him on a bike seat and then a tag-along trailer. Now he cycles with me but only on the canal as he doesn’t do hills! It’s good to finally see more investment in cycling infrastructure and initiatives in the area which gives me hope for the next generation of cyclists.   
I don’t have time to come out with the Bingley Belles as often as I would like. But when I do I love discovering new routes and getting out for social rides in the beautiful countryside we have on our doorstep. Being with a group has helped my confidence in going down steep hills, which I still don’t like! And most importantly, everyone is always really friendly. I hope to continue cycling for many years to come.

Catherine Brown's favourite ride

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