I learnt to ride as a child and really enjoyed cycling but stopped during my teens. University, work and kids meant that cycling was just a distant memory and when my kids learnt to ride, I missed not being able to join them. As a Muslim women wearing a long loose dress and hijab, I didn't think I could do it. Then I came across Cycle Sisters’ Facebook page and thought how lovely it would be to join a ladies only cycling group. I saw pictures of Muslim women wearing hijab and jilbabs and thought if they could do it, so could I!
So back in 2017, my husband dropped me and two friends to the start point with various borrowed bikes and we went for our first ride. It was a memorable experience that we will never forget. I remember walking up the hills and wondering if I would actually complete the ride, but I did! The buzz we got after that ride was amazing and after that we were hooked. We would keep every Wednesday morning free so we wouldn’t miss a ride. I became a more confident cyclist and made many new friends - other women like me who hadn’t ridden for a long time but enjoyed cycling and wanted to do something for ourselves.
After 18 months of borrowing a bike for the rides, I finally got my own bike as an Eid present from my husband and kids. I became confident cycling independently on the roads, started cycling to work and most importantly recruited my husband, children, family and friends into cycling. When Sarah asked me to train as one of the first ever Ride Leaders for our Walthamstow group in 2018, I was surprised that she thought I could do it and felt really proud to have been asked.
Only a few years later, I’m now supporting and mentoring our newer Ride Leaders and have recently been elected to be the first Rides Officer with a fellow Ride Leader on the Walthamstow group committee. We’re on the hunt for new and interesting routes and I came up with the idea for a ride to Greenwich. I figured out the route and went to reccy and risk assess it all by myself. Leading the group there a few weeks later felt like a huge achievement.
On top of all of this I was given the opportunity to co-ordinate rides for teenage Muslim girls as part of our Teen Bikers project and this has been a great success as our first two rides were fully booked. I’ve got two teenage girls myself so I know how important it is to offer suitable opportunities for young girls to be physically active.
I’m now planning to train as a cycling instructor so I can help other women and girls enjoy the wonders of cycling. As you can see cycling is now a major part of my life. I never thought that my first ride in 2017 would change my life so much - what a journey it has been!
“I saw pictures of Muslim women wearing hijab and jilbabs and thought if they could do it, so could I!”