Growing up wanting to cycle.
Growing up, I always wanted to ride a bike; however it wasn’t readily accessible to girls culturally. My brother had a bike and I always wanted to ride it; I was too tiny to attempt this so he’d get me to hold onto him and take me on a ride to our local park. I always wanted to learn but the fear of falling off deterred me from taking that first step.
After having girls of my own, aged 5 and 9, I realised I had to break the cultural barriers which prevented most girls from sports. I bought my girls shiny new bikes with stabilisers and off we went to Lister Park. The mum in me encouraged them to cycle, yet I knew nothing about cycling myself. What I did know was I wanted to cycle too!
Last year my sister told me about adult beginners cycling classes for women; these would be smaller groups, slow paced and most importantly, led by other women. I ran at the opportunity. I knew if I learnt to ride a bike I could be that female role model for my girls. I could show them that gender, age and culture should not be a factor in sport. Cycling is all about the outdoors, fitness, enjoyment and just getting out there and having fun.
My first two cycling lessons were in Myrtle Park with Anne Marie and Sarah/Jane. These were 1-2-1 sessions in small groups in the quieter, flatter part of the park. Would you believe it if I told you I just didn’t want the session to end? I was so determined to lift both feet off the ground and pedal smoothly; to feel the breeze in my hair and to be that little 8/9 year old girl again. The ladies kept encouraging and supporting me throughout those lessons and by the end of those classes I’d achieved it.
A very wet learning session
The Belles kindly offered us further sessions in the park and then onto the canal which my sister and I held onto as a life line. Come all weathers, we were there; ready and committed to the ride. I really enjoy and pride myself on learning to cycle; it has made me overcome my own fears and truly appreciate my ability to learn a new skill as an adult. So far it’s been an amazing, inclusive experience for me; I’ve met and cycled with so many kind and encouraging women who all have one common goal: To cycle safely at a pace where nobody is left behind, to build on their individual strengths, to enjoy cycling and overall to meet and make new friends.
As a mother, my personal experience with Bingley Belles has pushed me into looking into getting my girls cycling lessons so that they too can ride safely. Some take cycling for granted but for me it’s been a privilege. I’ve been able to tick this off my bucket list and know it’s a skill for life.
Although I have a long personal journey ahead, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed joining the Belles on various one cake rides. I feel confident now on venturing out on more rides; especially some two cake rides.