I learnt how to cycle when I was 35 after having my 3 children. I’m not sure why I didn’t learn when I was a child - I grew up with 3 sisters and I think my Dad just thought cycling was for men! My niece taught me to cycle at her house one day - I remember thinking she was holding the bike and then looking round to see she’d let go! I would cycle on holidays in places like Centre Parcs but never on the roads. I couldn’t ever imagine cycling in the city!
I found out about Cycle Sisters through a friend and I went along to my first ride with her. I got there really early and didn’t sleep that well the night before. I felt a bit nervous about being good enough and self conscious about holding people back. I was also nervous about not wearing hijab and whether I would fit in. When we got going it was fine, the sisters were all so welcoming and from all walks of life - I kept going back.
Riding in the group gave me security but also really improved my confidence. I can now ride to join the start points for the rides whereas I used to always have to drive. I remember getting really lost the first time but I got there in the end!. The cycle infrastructure in Walthamstow has improved hugely and there’s a segregated cycle lane I use to get to the different start points. I actually cycle to Jubilee Park, one of the parks the rides start in, really often now. I go there with the kids and it’s so easy.
My health and fitness have improved hugely since doing the weekly rides. I like the way the rides combine exercise with a social aspect. I’m not really into exercise classes - they feel too much like a chore - but this is great - I exercise and get to socialise at the same time.
Having different branches of Cycle Sisters has really helped me keep cycling around my work schedule. I attend rides with the Walthamstow, Chingford and Redbridge groups on weekdays and weekends. I’ve also attended family rides that are organised by different groups in the borough. I have a 17, 13 and 12 year old and we all go including my husband. I like the fact that you get to know the people who go and you get to know your local area. There are lots of green spaces around me I didn’t know were there - Olympic Park, the Wetlands etc. I’m now confident enough to take my children out cycling on my own - before I was really reliant on my husband.
During the lockdown cycling has really saved my family’s mental health. When everything was shut it was one thing we could still enjoy doing as a family. One time we were inspired by photos on our Cycle Sisters whatsapp group and rode to see the Bluebells in Wanstead Park. They were beautiful!
"I’m now confident enough to take my children out cycling on my own - before I was really reliant on my husband. "