Happy Cyclist

Marie Ray

Early retirement has brought lots of joy to this new(ish) member.
Hi everyone,
My parents bought me my first “proper” bike when I was about 8 years old, I’d wanted one for some time and I was so excited to be getting my own bicycle. We went to the second hand shop in Shipley and a suitable bike was chosen for me. It was blue and had three gears. I insisted that I could ride it home from the shop, all the way to Nab Wood, which was a bit silly really as I hadn’t ridden on a road before. It was the early 1970’s though and the roads weren’t that busy. Shortly afterwards I completed the cycling proficiency course which was run though my school, and then I was deemed safe to be let loose on my bike.

School Days - Happy Days - when you have a bike

I went everywhere on my bike for several years, I learnt how to fix a puncture, adjust the brakes and do any basic repairs that needed to be undertaken for the bike. I loved that bike. Eventually, I grew out of cycling though, and moved onto other things that teenagers usually do, youth club, boys, and then the pub!.

Working Days - well someone has to do it

The next time I wanted a bike was when I was 21 and a student nurse, I was living in Little Horton in Bradford, and I had a placement at Bierley hospital. I had to work shifts, and the early shift started at 07.30, the late shift finished at 21.00. To get there took two buses and an hour each way, plus waiting for the buses to arrive. So I decided that I could cycle to work as it meant I could have an extra 30 mins in bed, and be home by 21.30, instead of 22.30, by using the bus.

So, I bought another second hand bike, this one was actually a men’s bike, still with only three gears, but at least it would get me to work. Going up Little Horton Lane was hard at first and I had to push it up the hill, but within a couple of weeks I could cycle all the way to work without stopping. Again, a bit mad of me as this time I was cycling on the city circle route, past the motorway junction, which was pretty busy by this time. I once again fell out of love with cycling after this placement and didn’t ride that bike again. 

And then comes Early Retirement!

About 18 months ago, I started watching the bikes going past me around where I live and started thinking that I would like to take up cycling again, but the hills all around were putting me off, and also I’m 35 years older, and not as fit (or thin) as I was at 21. The thoughts continued though, and when I decided to take early retirement from work last year I thought I might get a bike, but wasn’t sure.

I went to tea with colleagues from work and while there I asked Vicky if she was still cycling. She told me she is and started telling me about the Bingley Belles, and how good it is. She offered to lend me a bike, but at the same time, another colleague offered to lend me one of her bikes. Two days later I had borrowed a woman’s bike with loads of gears, and loaded into the back of the car I drove to Crossflatts and set off towards Silsden.

I got to Silsden, thinking I was aching a little bit, and maybe I shouldn’t have gone so far on my first attempt in 35 years. I was right, as a few miles back towards Crossflatts, I had to get off the bike and push it as my thighs and bum were in agony. Not good! I got the bike back, loaded it into the car again and went straight to Go Outdoors and bought some cycle shorts with a padded bum! That made the cycling a bit easier on my bum, but my legs took a little longer to strengthen up.

I persisted though, cycling alone and with Vicky, and rode that bike for about six months, until I bought an electric bike through the work’s cycle to work scheme. I got an electric bike because we all live in Bradford, and as we know, in every direction there is a hill, and beyond the first hill there is another hill, and another. I then joined the Bingley Belles and Saltaire Womens Breeze, and the rest is now history. I am so glad that I did persist, I have met some lovely women in both groups, who have all made me feel welcome. I am also fitter, and happier in myself for doing this. Thanks to all the members!


Marie Ray's favourite ride

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