I’m Sarah (one of the many Sarahs in Bingley Belles!)
I don’t really remember having a bike or being interested in cycling as a child.
I remember my dad teaching me to ride and I also have a photo of my bike decorated for the May Day parade at school but other than that I really didn’t get into cycling until I was an adult.
I would describe myself as initially being hijacked into cycling!
My husband Chris got into cycling when I was in my early 30s.
When I say “he got into cycling”, he really went for it… changed his job to become a cycling coach and wanted to spend all his time on a bike.
So I had to sort of get on board…or on a saddle…or get left behind!
When our son came along he quickly had a bike seat, then a tag along, a gator bar and it wasn’t long before he was off too.
All our holidays were cycling related and days out spent on bikes.
We had some great times on family cycling holidays in France, Holland, Cornwall, Kent, Germany etc.
We had a camper van at the time so chucking the bikes in the back was easy.
I have fond memories of pootling along on our bikes in the Rhein Valley, putting them on a ski lift to go to the top of the steep valley before descending back down.
I came off and wrecked my favourite jeans… but we don’t talk about that bit!
It was good fun.
We did a mixture of holidays where we took our bikes and planned our own routes and joined dedicated cycling holidays, camping or youth hostelling with self directed route maps.
A great way to discover new places.
And then he grew up and got good at cycling.
Soon I was referred to as L’Escargot (The Snail) and spent all my time at the back… catching up… not getting a rest before they took off again!
Talks about how many miles, what speed we were doing and elevation gained began to dominate.
I started to become a reluctant cyclist.
And then I discovered cycling with women.
Bingley Belles is born
I had two friends (both called Sarah), and I started going out cycling with them separately.
We went slow, not far.
We stopped to take photos and always had coffee and cake.
In fact one of my Sarah friends would refuse to go out on a bike unless the coffee and cake stop was first identified.
I am still to be forgiven for taking her to a café that turned out to be closed!
We didn’t talk about distance, speed or elevation.
We talked about anything and everything else.
We started to go further afield, to Bolton Abbey, Skipton and even the Dales!
It was liberating.
We had absolutely no knowledge of what to do if we had a mechanical issue… still relying on our husbands to pump up tyres before we set off.
We didn’t even carry tools, we just had £10 and a lock between us in case we needed to lock up the bike and get a taxi home. I still think that was a good idea!
I remember another friend Nikki joined us one day – she had a pump and we actually blew up her tyres.
It took all three of us but we were so proud we even took pictures and put it on Facebook!
We even investigated joining a cycling club but when they said you had to maintain a certain speed, carry a spare inner tube and fix your own puncture, we were out.
Those rides were the beginning of Bingley Belles.
We wanted to share our joy of cycling, how we had come to cycling….the simple way!
My husband got some funding to run three women-only rides and from the women attending these, plus Sarah, Sarah and Nikki, our first Bingley Belles meeting and then ride was held in Spring 2017.
And then, as they say, it’s history…
My love of cycling has just continued to grow and grow throughout this time.
I’ve become a Breeze Ride Champion as well as a Ride Leader for Bingley Belles.
I love our 1, 2 and 3 cake rides and meeting so many women who all want to do something different with their cycling.
I just wanted to finish by saying that Chris has now come round to the idea of chat, coffee and cake bike rides… well at least he has when he’s out with me!
We’re also looking forward to enjoying more cycling holidays… possibly Portugal this year but lots of ideas for the future.
Looking forward to sitting on a saddle and discovering new places.