With a passion for sports a friend of mine forwarded an advertisement from the Birmingham Road safety team which put a call out to recruit and train the first team of cycling instructors for Birmingham. I instantly thought I wanted to do this but I didn’t own and bike and the last time I had been on one when when I was 16. I called the organiser and explained this and he encouraged me to still come along and he will take care of the rest. I turned up and fell off my bike! The end, no- my journey began.
I started off as a Bikeability Instructor 15 years ago teaching Level 2-3 National Standards in primary and secondary schools across the city, but my passion was to increase women’s participation in cycling. I went on to run several groups with the local authority, until I met Saheli. I found that they shared my passion of providing activities at grassroots level, and I’ve been with them since. I am now one of the lead instructors and after setting up the Club, I am also the Club Secretary.
Currently I help plan and co-ordinate cycling activities; I recruit, train and mentor new Ride Leaders and Cycling Instructors; I also run my own groups of Learn to Ride and led rides for women and men at Ward End Park. I continue to train and recruit women from within the communities of the sessions we deliver. This means those participants have a role model that they can relate to and can access for advice and guidance.
Saheli offers sessions for all abilities. We have varied groups depending on ability and confidence levels on the bike. The participants can choose to stay within the enclosed area of the Learn to Ride sessions or join us on a 20-mile Club ride. We are there to support the individuals, and help develop their skills, but leave it up to them to decide when to move to another group within the framework. Saheli Cycling Club currently runs across three sites.
The highlight always is teaching someone to cycle for the first time, especially when they never thought they could. I don’t think that will ever change for me and continues to motivate me to do more.
As someone who fell off her bike in her training I went on follow my passion of wanting to make cycling accessible for all. As long as you have the enthusiasm and determination anything is achievable. My journey was only possible by meeting the right trainers and mentors who believed in me along the way. I aim to pass this onto everyone I teach and train and always am encouraging people to try it once. Practice may not make you perfect but it will definitely make you better. I teach women how to ride; build their confidence and skills to continue riding for leisure, health and wellbeing or commuting. So if you are inspired, find a local group who will provide you with a bike and a helmet and turn up. As I say to the ladies: READY, STEADY, PEDAL!