Rafia

Growing up my parents bought me a bike with stabilizers so I could begin learning to ride, but before graduating to removing the stabilizers, the chain on my bike broke. We never replaced it because I was also a keen roller skater and preferred that, so it meant I never learnt to cycle. 

 

I have been wanting to learn for many years and as spring and summers approached I hoped one day I could learn to ride in the parks with friends. My friends were also keen that I learn and I remember one day failing miserably as they tried to teach me with a Boris Bike along The Mall with tourists taking pictures of us! I felt super embarrassed, and wondered if I was the only adult who couldn't ride. I think I had given up after trying unsuccessfully a few more times with friends.

 

Finally in 2019, I heard about Cycle Sisters at an event held at a local mosque and I decided to go for it and book a lesson.  My parents thought I was strange, a woman in her 30s learning to cycle. I met Sarah from Cycle Sisters who was my instructor and she was incredible, kind and patient, as I stumbled along with a fear I was going to fall off and hurt myself.  I also discovered that there were so many other Muslim women who had not learnt to ride a bike or were not confident riders and suddenly I didn't feel alone. 

 

I learnt to balance in my first lesson with such simple guidance from Sarah. I was so surprised and excited that I could finally balance and cycle as I didn’t think I would ever be able to do it.  I also expected to learn with stabilizers but thankfully they were not used which was a relief! 

 

After a few more sessions where I worked on my confidence, control and braking, Sarah said that I was ready to join one of Cycle Sisters’ beginners rides on a Saturday.  The rides are planned for sisters who have just learnt to ride like me or those who want to build confidence, but I still felt nervous going along that I would be the one to hold everyone up.  My first ride was a memorable experience...I felt scared riding on the roads and worried that I would crash into something but the Ride Leaders understood my worries and one of them rode next to me the whole way which really put me at ease.  The other riders were also really supportive and encouraging and by the end of it, I couldn’t wait to get back on a bike and come back the next time!  

 

I am still learning but I am so proud of my achievement that I tell everyone about my new skill, and I finally feel confident to fulfil my dream of cycling around London’s parks during the spring and summers with friends. Next up, owning my own bike and tackling London road cycling...?

“I am so proud of my achievement that I tell everyone about my new skill, and I finally feel confident to fulfil my dream of cycling around London’s parks”

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