Picture of Sarah Howkin on her bike

Sarah Howkins

Sarah shares her memories of the different bikes she's owned.

Hello, my name is Sarah
With a 9-day deadline, I was asked to write something as July’s Bingley Belle, so here goes!

I feel lucky to have always had a bike. My early memories (1970’s!) are of my 3-wheeler. I think it was red. My
Dad, a gifted DIYer, made me a box which he attached to the front. In it I would initially have my passenger, a
very ugly soft, plastic limbed doll with a stuffed fabric body. I would ride round the block, initially with my
Mum or Dad walking next to me. Roads were so much quieter then. Only a few people had cars on our street,
and no household had 2!
I can’t remember where my next bike came from, but it only had 2 wheels and ooh did I struggle with balance.
(Some may say I still do!) The shame of still needing stabilisers led me to ride my green scooter with my
friends. I recall my very patient Dad holding onto the back and running behind. After wearing out my
stabilisers, I vividly remember the day he let go, and I whizzed on along the small alleyway behind the houses,
only to stop suddenly when I realised, he wasn’t there.

Becoming more independent and adventurous

I remember going to Bradford Halfords, in Foster Square, to collect my next bike. I was so excited. Even the
realisation that the steep walk-up Church Bank faced me, didn’t dampen my spirits. Into the 80’s, I became
more independent and adventurous. My bike took me further, Thornbury, Windhill, Shipley Glen and even
Kildwick! I had a fake leather bag strapped on the back. My doll was replaced with snacks or picnics and a small
green radio. I recall free-wheeling down hills with ELO’s Mr Blue Sky blaring out.

Family life and cycling

In 1990, I married my husband and moved to the flat lands of Leicestershire. My passion for horse riding took off
but I continued to ride my bike to the shops, the riding stables and sometimes for fun. With a very old, and
often unreliable Morris Minor as our car, I sometimes needed a second set of wheels. I cycled to a friend’s
house and then onto work in her car for a while when petrol prices/ major road works affected my drive.
After 4 years, family and hills called me back to Yorkshire and we settled in Bingley. At the height of the
housing crash, it took a while to sell our Hinckley house and whilst it was empty my bike was stolen from the
shed. Fortunately, they were insured so I could replace it with another, which I still have and use at out
caravan in Northumberland.
My bike was essential for 6 months as we only had 1 car and I used it daily to cycle (and walk, pushing it) from
Bingley to Wilsden to care for my fell pony. (Over an hour there but only 20 minutes back!)
I now have 2 sons who have progressed through a variety of bikes, mainly bought second hand or passed onto
us by kind neighbours and friends. I’ve pushed them around reservoirs, along canals and up and down hills in
both Yorkshire and Northumberland, with punctures, tears and tantrums along the way. I’ve accompanied
them on longer and longer adventures. Initially, with me waiting for them, and then them waiting for me as I
huff and puff, up the hills. Their enthusiasm has diminished but hopefully will return one day. Unfortunately,
as boys they won’t be able to join the Bingley Belles!

Returning to cycling after an injury

Two years ago, a fall from my new horse caused me serious injuries and I had to sell him. For 28 years I’d been
a horse owner and rider and I struggled both physically and mentally with this change.
Four months ago, I finally summoned up the courage to join the Bingley Belles. So far, I’ve completed 11 rides
and ridden 116 miles! I’ve met lovely people and found off road routes I never knew existed. Having driven for
years on the bypass, I still can’t quite believe there’s not 1 but 2 tracks under it, even though I’ve been on
Thanks to the Belles I’ve kindled my passion for cycling. Having recently converted my bike to electric, I’m
looking forward to being able to explore more of the great outdoors (hills included) on a different kind of

Sarah Howkins's favourite ride

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