Syeda

I'm me again 

It was on a summer’s day, when I was around 10 that I first experienced cycling. Growing up as an Asian Muslim girl, it wasn’t something that I was introduced to nor encouraged by the adults around me. My two younger brothers shared a bike and it seemed like a lot of fun and I wanted to be a part of it. I decided to practise on my brothers’ bike and after a few tumbles and bruises I managed to balance. The thrill of my first ride without falling off was magical. Sadly, the summer had gone, the boys outgrew their bike and with it my chance of cycling.

I was in my 30s when I introduced my children to cycling. I knew the importance of teaching both my son and daughter to ride.   We stuck mostly to the pavement, quiet roads and parks. However the demands of working full-time and coming home late rarely afforded me the time to enjoy cycling for leisure. Somehow 10 year had passed, I started wearing an abaya and so hesitantly I  took my bike out for a ride once again. However, my abaya soon caught on the chain and that was the final time I got on my bike (or so I thought).

About 11 months ago a sister posted information about Cycle Sisters starting in Redbridge. I immediately signed up for it; this was my chance to really learn how to cycle properly and regain my confidence. On my very first ride with the group, I was full of excitement and nervous energy. I wore one of my shorter abayas and hiked it up. I met so many friendly faces who were all mirroring my feelings. Everyone was dressed in clothes they were comfortable in; I did not feel out of place. With this renewed confidence, I joined the rides each week. I was still not fully confident so took part in some on-road training with an instructor which boosted my confidence further and I was soon cycling on the roads on my own.  

I think I must have only managed to cycle about five rides with Cycle Sisters Redbridge before the Covid-19 pandemic brought everything to a standstill. I became restless being stuck at home and soon decided that I needed to get back on my bike. The decision to buddy up with other sisters was one of the best I had made. Every week I have been buddying up with a few sisters; I could see that some sisters were starting to build their confidence and stamina and I could really relate to that as I was in their place only a few months ago. It felt great to support them; others had helped and encouraged me on my cycle journey and continue to do so by sharing their amazing cycle experiences. I am also building my confidence and skills alongside them; I’m learning all the time. 

I have now completed the Ride Leaders’ programme and have become a ride leader for Cycle Sisters in Redbridge and Newham. My love for cycling has extended into raising money for charity and I have completed three charity cycle rides; the most recent of which was London to Southend.   Nowadays you rarely see me without my bike and I love discovering the hidden gems in this amazing city that I live in. Weekly night rides is now a regular fixture in my calendar regardless of how cold it is outside! Perhaps my biggest achievement has been to encourage my daughter to take up cycling again and us doing more mother and daughter rides. Who knows, she may soon get the bug as well and one day go onto become a ride leader for the teens. All I need to do is make her think the idea was hers all along!

I am now a much happier, healthier and more positive person. The added bonus is I have made some fantastic new friends. Somehow Cycle Sisters gave me the boost I needed and regain the confidence I had lost. I’m me again. 

“Cycle Sisters gave me the boost I needed to regain the confidence I had lost.  I'm me again.”