Jackie Loach

Jackie Loach

Our June 2024 Belle

Getting going with stabilisers

My first bike was a blue and gold 2-wheeler with stabilisers that my Dad taught me to ride around our slopy grassy garden – later my sisters and I shared a couple of bikes – mainly for pedalling to the local shop to spend our pocket money on comics and sweets. I struggled with taking a hand off to signal and was terrified going down hills – so slow! I don’t recall riding a bike much in my teens or uni years but I’d at least learnt enough to balance and pedal around. During my early 20s I moved up to Bradford – living in Great Horton – so hilly and trafficky – cycling never even crossed my mind as an option! I met my husband who had cycled a lot and on visits to his parents in Nottinghamshire (considerably flatter!) sometimes borrowed his Mums bike so we could go on short rides around the villages there. We took off inter-railing in Europe and later 9 months travelling in 1990 to Australia/NZ and S Asia and have happy memories of the times we rented bikes for the day to get about and see more of places we stayed in. Children came along and as they grew up and got their own bikes I realised that I needed to be able to cycle myself to keep up. So my 40th birthday brought a Mongoose Mountain Bike – and 21 gears to learn how to use on the hills. A lovely friend Rowena had started to go out cycling on a Saturday morning and encouraged others to join her and she was a great encouragement and teacher as we pedalled out around the trails around Eldwick, Bingley, East Morton, Cottingley and St Ives. Eventually life got in the way of the Saturday morning ladies rides and from then on it was back to occasional day rides on holidays and my bike gathered dust in the garage.

Finding the Belles

I noticed Bingley Belles on Facebook a couple of years back and started following. My fitness wasn’t great though and there was still the issue of not being confident with road cycling. E-bikes started to look like a possible solution to living up a big hill (it’s always the thought of getting back up at the end of a ride that puts me off getting my bike out at all) I really enjoyed trying one out in Scotland on holiday, but I felt I should at least dust off the Mongoose and decide whether I even liked cycling before making the investment. A big birthday prompted me to think ‘if not now then when’ so I joined Belles and went out on my first 1 cake ride a year ago. The group were so welcoming and encouraging – with advice on quick bike checks to do from Sarah, and Lindsey sorting my ill-fitting helmet out. The sunny evening ride out along the canal and across the golf course to Utley was lovely and I really appreciated the moral support from the Back marker (sorry I can’t remember who it was) as we returned along the Riddlesden road cycle way from Keighley. Since then I’ve joined in with various 1-2 cake rides and Meet & Greets, which has led to finding Monday morning canal-based Breeze rides with Judy & co – I’ve also been to a couple of Nicola’s Bike maintainance sessions which have really helped me understand a few basics about my bike. I have got fit enough to get back up the hill home (just!) but over the winter it was a gamechanger when I eventually worked out how to wrangle my bike into the back of my small car for days when time is short or I felt the prospect of the ride back up would stop me even going out. As well as the cycling itself, I’ve loved the café stops and meeting so many warm and friendly women. I’ve also joined in with the Bar Belles group and am amazed to find myself trying weight training every week– and feeling the benefits. Thanks to the committee & ride leaders for the inspiration and all you do to make cycling more doable for the feint-hearted!

Jackie Loach's favourite ride

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