I’ve often wondered if I will ever be able to ride a bike. I never learnt as a child and when I became an adult so many other distractions came along that my cycling goals were forgotten about. I’ve long had visions of the bicycle I want to own – colourful rainbow wheels with a floral basket, decorated with rickshaw style motifs that I’ll use to ride along the Thames path on sunny weekends. Trouble is, that’s only half of the dream, the reality is that I still needed to learn…
In 2007 I sat on a bike for the first time in my life and over three weeks of lessons I learnt the basics of balance, but an injury at work which prevented me from looking over my shoulder, meant my cycling experience remained short-lived, and I never went back.
Fast-forward to 2017. It’s been 10 years since then and here I am sitting on a bicycle on a Sunday morning by the pictureseque Limehouse basin. This is the location for a 12 week free women’s cycling course I’ve just enrolled on, funded by Groundwork’s Cycling Grants London project. I saw the poster on display at St Katharine’s Precinct and was attracted to the fact that the bicycles were provided, the timing was doable and it was free, so I had no excuses!
On the first session I was so nervous and incredibly fearful. I had completely forgotten what to do but our Cycle Instructor Shahanara had some positive advice about taking is slowly and to keep trying to put my foot on the pedals before attempting to cycle. It was incredibly hard but I followed her words and with perseverance by the end of the 1.5hr class I was riding.
We’re now over half way through the course and I’m learning and developing confidence every week. I absolutely love the cycling part but I’ve not yet mastered the art of successfully changing gears and I’m currently trying to build up the courage to take my hand off the bars to signal, so far that’s not happened but I’m not giving up.
Having a Sunday morning routine of going to a class, knowing I’m going to be spending it in beautiful surroundings with friendly women who are are all so inspiring, is a highlight of my weekend. The sessions are aimed especially at Bangladeshi women though the group is mixed and everyone’s cycling ability is different which is great as I love seeing them all grow and develop as the weeks go on.
The focus is on going at our own paces with individual tips given to us by our instructor so that we can work on the areas we need to improve on. I absolutely cannot believe I can now cycle. I’d still call myself a beginner but I’m learning new skills at every lesson and I actually can’t believe it’s happening. Enrolling on these sessions has been life-changing. It’s very exciting and I’m so happy that I saw the poster and signed up: it’s the best decision I’ve made all year.
Limehouse Women’s Cycle Project was delivered by The Royal Foundation of St Katharine- a community project at the St Katharine’s Precinct..
– Project Participant