I’ve always loved riding bikes.
For years I had a great scar from when I took my red apple bike – complete with basket – onto the BMX track. It came crashing down on me on a high corner with the pedal making a rather large gash on my thigh. I wasn’t deterred though.
I was lucky enough to grow up a short ride away from Richmond Park, in London.
We’d cycle there as a family, cycle ’round it, through it, to the various cafes scattered around the place. It was brilliant.
My secondary school and friends were on the other side of the park from me. A perfect commute, bombing over tree roots in the mud on my mountain bike. My bike gave me freedom.
Then I forgot about cycling for a while – during college, working, university… A combination of moving around a lot, small car, and I think it just didn’t occur to me.
When I moved to Leeds in 2007 I bought a cheap hybrid from Halfords, which was crucial when I ended up without a car for a while. I largely used it for commuting up a dual carriageway, so it wasn’t a fun bike.
We moved to a different dual carriageway on the other side of Leeds and the bike stayed untouched for years. There was nowhere safe to ride it – sod’s law that they’d build the cycle superhighway at the end of our road just as we moved to Bradford. Even then, we were now near the towpath and I always had a niggling feeling that I wanted to have a cycle, but my bike wasn’t inspiring me.
Then, in 2017, our garage got broken into. The untouched unfun bike – along with a lot of other stuff – got nicked.
I used the Cycle to Work scheme to buy a really fun Bobbin bike, and then somehow came across the Let’s Ride website. Turns out, women put on social group rides for other women, who knew?!
I was immediately hooked.
It wasn’t long before I went on one of Judy‘s Breeze rides from Saltaire, and I quickly tried to arrange my shifts so I’d be able to join her Monday and Wednesday rides.
Judy also made me realise what a good idea an electric bike is when you live in West Yorkshire. The steep hill heading up from the towpath to my house is a killer and was putting me off getting behind the handlebars. The final straw was cycling back from a hard day working in Leeds into a headwind, in the pouring rain. I got as far as Bramley and burst into tears.
So, I got myself a beautiful folding e-bike from Volt, with a max range of 40 miles – surely I’d never need more than that?!
It served me well and I discovered the joys of speeding up hills across Yorkshire. The e-bike got me off the towpath and onto beautiful roads where it’s a surprise to see a car – don’t they know it’s a cyclist’s playground?
After a couple of years, the 40-mile range (which is more like 20 with these hills) had become a hindrance, and thanks again to Cyclescheme, I’ve now upgraded to a Liv e-bike that can do more than 100, and my parents have inherited the Volt. I use it to get to work, go shopping, visit friends, and of course, go out with the Bingley Belles.
I discovered the Belles during the pandemic, as Breeze rides stopped but I could see Judy getting out and about on rides with a knitted cake for some strange reason. Turns out the Belles are all about the cake!
After joining in April 2021, the meet and greet ride – in pouring rain – was great fun and I instantly felt the warmth of an amazing community. One that also puts on training, picnics and trips to Majorca!
I became a co-ride leader and trained as a British Cycling Breeze Champion and ride leader in September 2021.