Every competent person you see was once a novice.
I’d finally decided to listen to my friend who, over the years had been inviting me to take up cycling. I suddenly realised that my passion wasn’t solely reserved for long-distance walks or mountain climbing (more about that soon), but it turns out I had a passion for cycling too. She knew all along that this would be my forté (the cheeky minx), but sometimes, as is often the case, you need to be gently nudged towards the thing that is glaringly obvious to everyone but you.
It all started with my friend going through basic bike handling with me. We covered level 1 in the confines of a safe controlled environment (I could cope with this). We then quickly moved onto level 2 which terrifyingly meant negotiating the roads of Birmingham and its traffic-eek! I can still hear her, gently but firmly shouting “hold your position!” (in what felt like the middle of the road…erm because it WAS the middle of the road) and “you’re doing great” when at the time ALL I could hear was the sound of my pounding heartbeat and the deafening revving of a car engine as the impatient driver waited and watched like a hawk whilst I attempted to make a right turn from a major road onto a minor…I took the turn, I made it. Phew!
My friend suggested meeting every Saturday in the local park for a chin wag whilst she instructed a bike ride. These sessions fast became our weekly way of checking in with one another whilst ambling along on our bikes bobbing and weaving through the paved park under the canopy of trees, the sun’s rays pushing through the clustered treetops. Can you see the quaint picture in your mind’s eye? It was nice whilst it lasted. Alas, I wasn’t to stay in the park for long…can you spot a pattern? Haha.
I was invited to go on my very first 6-mile road ride. I was a little nervous, but we were going to cycle in a snake. One bike rider in front of the other; in a line with a leader at the front and a leader at the back. I felt safe but like all things new I was a tad nervous. No time to think too much about it as we were off on a ride along the streets of Birmingham. This went on for a few weeks until I was asked if I’d like to take part in a Bloodwise charity bike ride. The minimum distance was 26 miles on and off-road. Erm, I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention but up until that point my bike riding mileage had been 6 miles per week. I was assured it would be a doddle and so with blind faith I said yes and signed up straight away. The event was amazing! The weather was incredible, the atmosphere was electric. I met a whole team of female cyclists who were enthusiastic about the event and it made me really happy to see them all. I met Naseem there properly for the first time, all the way back in 2016. After this event, I was recruited and put on a Ride Leader course and the rest, as they say, is history.
Cycling with Saheli has introduced me to my tribe; a tribe of women who I have grown with, who I have been nurtured by and nurtured in return. The best compliment I ever received as a cyclist was that I didn’t look like one. I take this compliment and wear it as a badge of honour. Who says that you have to be clad out in lycra anyway? How restrictive.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, stick around. Next time I might just tell you about what I managed to do through Saheli Cycling Club with my Ride Leader qualification.