Wearing what I want to cycle
I’m a 40 something year old and I’ve been cycling with Cycle Sisters for around three years. Before that I hadn’t been on a bike for about 25 years! Before my four children came along I enjoyed exercise like aerobics, walking and swimming, but in recent years my fitness levels had declined. I had become more sedentary - it felt so much easier and quicker to drive everywhere.
When I started cycling I didn't see any women cycling in abaya and I thought I would stick out from the crowd. I was also worried it would be really hard to cycle in. When I joined the group I realised that actually you can cycle in all types of everyday clothes and once I figured out the right abaya to cycle in, there was no stopping me! I tried a few different types and quickly realised that an A lined shaped one worked the best as it was just the right width at the bottom to get over the frame of the bike and it has to be a non-stretchy material.
I was also worried about what my family would think of me cycling - I have a large extended family that all live locally so someone was bound to see me! So instead, before anyone got a chance to tell my parents and grandparents, I decided to go visit them myself on my bike. I was really surprised by their reaction - they were really excited and so supportive - when I went home they all came out of the house to see me cycle off!
At first cycling was just a social thing, but after receiving some positive comments on our rides it boosted my confidence and now I'm cycling everywhere! My husband saw a positive change in me and was so impressed that he bought me a bike as an Eid present. I enjoy being able to get from A to B independently and without the frustration of being stuck in London's ever present traffic. I'm not using my car nearly as much as my bike now - I always cycle to my weekly Arabic class and to have breakfast with my cousin who lives a few miles away. If I need to pop to the shops I'll just go on the bike.
Six months ago I did my Ride Leader training so I could be part of the Cycle Sisters team. I wanted to be more involved and help other women who are starting out on their own journeys with a bike. I want to show them that everyone is more than capable of learning to ride a bike, no matter your age, gender or background.
My plans for the future are to maybe train as an all-ability cycle instructor so that I can help people with disabilities and special needs learn how to ride a bike. I have three special needs children and I know how important exercise is for them.
“When I joined the group I realised that actually you can cycle in all types of everyday clothes and once I figured out the right abaya to cycle in, there was no stopping me!"