Hi my name is Karen but I am generally known as Kaz.
My cycling journey, so far, has been quite short-lived!
Until about 6-7 years ago I didn’t even know I could actually ride a bike and after having a few muscle injuries my physio suggested cycling would be a bit kinder to my knees so I decided to give it a go.
At that time I bought a second hand reconditioned bike that my then 13-year-old son could use if I didn’t take to it or indeed couldn’t ride.
I am only 5’3 and at the time he wasn’t much taller thank goodness, he is just under 6’ now so could have been a different story!!
I took myself out to the industrial site near where I live, went into the, thankfully empty, car park and was away – I loved it.
Sadly a further muscle injury in my shoulder put paid to my cycling and I had to stop, yet again, just got back into it, then stopped again due to a further shoulder injury.
I started to feel that cycling wasn’t meant for me but the thing was when I did get out on my bike I absolutely loved it.
So last year, just before lockdown, I decided I would try again and bought myself a folding bike, which is always referred to as a cute little bike, it’s definitely not made for hills but it is fine for me to get started.
This time I looked for a beginners cycling group – nothing in Leeds where I live so I would go to the car park with some football cones and practise stopping, starting and weaving in and out of the cones but after a while this does get a bit boring and on your own as well.
So again I tried finding a cycling club and ideally wanted a women’s group and I found Bingley Belles through Let’s Ride, emailed and received a lovely, warm response back which automatically made me feel I had found the right group, even though it was further away I was determined not to be put off.
I attended cycle training on 20th August last year arranged by the Belles group and because I had been out (in my local car park) I felt more confident than I had been and felt pretty good when Anne- Marie told me I was doing great – then I fell off, not once but twice, however, despite the wonderful bruise I was sporting the next day I was not put off by the experience, in fact, it just made me more determined to keep going this time.
I am part of the Whatsapp group and when I was feeling a bit frustrated just before Xmas with not being able to get out the Belles cheered me up with their positive responses.
My favourite ride has to be the only two rides I have managed with Bingley Belles so far, my first was a buddy ride with Amanda at Meanwood Valley Trail in August and my second was on the Canal Road Greenway in Shipley in October when the rules were just six people.
On both rides, I found so much support, fun and laughs and lots of consideration for my lack of confidence which just makes me want to keep going rather than give up.
Due to my location and lockdown, I haven’t been able to find a buddy near me which has been a shame but I am looking forward to when we can get back out there and meeting more of the Belles as I just know I have managed to find a great group of people who will be fun and as I still haven’t done hills yet I feel pretty certain they will be there supporting me with that too.
Thank you for the opportunity Bingley Belles and maybe the next time “the calendar girls” come calling I will have loads of rides and hills under my belt along with some newly found friends.