Hi, my name is Raz.
As a child, I had always wanted to be able to ride a bike but I was not given the opportunity. I remember once attempting to ride my brother’s bike, however I was unsuccessful. I was trying to learn on a road where I grew up, but it was downhill and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find my balance.
Much later down the line, I was keen to learn again, as I had always admired cyclists and wanted this life skill. I practised on my son’s BMX bike when I was in my 30’s. However, as I was older, I was frightened of falling and therefore couldn’t grasp the technique.
BMXing and Bikeability
Around 2014/2015, my friend introduced me to a scheme called Bikeability in Bradford for women only. This excited me as it felt like it would give me the right confidence and support needed to finally excel in this skill. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and attended a 1 to 1 session. Finally, I learnt how to find my balance and it gave me the confidence to practise. I began going to the local park daily from January to April, practising again and again no matter what weather I was facing. I had finally achieved my life-long dream and I felt young and free.
Once my children became independent and had made their own circle of friends, that’s when I realised how lonely I was and without a life of my own.I remember my daughter asking me why I had not kept contact with my friends. Thinking about it, these were mainly my kids’ friends’ parents. Going out eating and talking of the family politicals of others made me worse .
My heart yearned for the outdoors and countryside, and I came across local walking group where I met Helen, who mentioned Bingley Belles. She was a member of Queensbury Queens, but she said they’d be too tough for me. (Oh man, yes, def)
Once, I was going to meet Jane at 5 Rise Locks and I started feeling nervous. So emotional, I started crying. Jane was so understanding, her helpful words got me back up again, and by the end of the ride I realised there was nothing to be emotional about. Just part of menopause!
'Great cycling family'
I believe, as long as I have Bingley Belles supporting me, I’ll always be part of a great cycling family who allow me to feel safe and have lifelong friends. My inner and outer strength has increased and I was always surrounded by women who inspired me to keep pushing for excellence on every ride.
Learning to cycle has been such an exhilarating achievement for myself. During my regular bike rides, I have spoken to a lot of people who were always interested in my journey as a South Asian, older woman and it felt very inspiring to share my story.
If it wasn’t for Bingley Belles I would have never ever imagined in my dreams, to be cycling on the main roads, in towns, countryside, short /long hills. Once out on the bike and with the group you feel so safe, protected and confident to cycle.
Everytime I cycled I felt so happy, young and forgot all my problems. It was just me and my bike in another beautiful world
Cycling with Bingley Belles also improved my mental and physical health, which then helped me with my faith as a muslim. It helped me to let go of the past painful experiences in life that you somehow without knowing, hold on to for ever. The walking and cycling friends have become a small circle of friends. I feel very independent and best of all, my children are so proud of me. Their friends say I’m the ‘Cool mum’.
For the first time in my life I felt my spiritual connection with god so strong. My life at last felt fulfilled and content with everything
All that changed was just me
Thank you so much Bingley Belles
Don’t let age, gender or culture hold you back.