How old were you when you started cycling?
Believe it or not I did not learn to ride a bike until the ripe old age of 44! As I was growing up there was not a lot of emphasis on cycling, especially for Asian girls. It didn’t help that my brother had broken his leg whilst riding a trike too.
It’s like, you should know how to ride a bike really at that point, but it had never come onto the radar but it was definitely something I was aware of, that I couldn’t ride a bike. Fiona Callaghan, our local sports coordinator, who ran our weekly sport sessions asked a group of us if we would like to do some cycling sessions with Go Velo and we all jumped on the chance!
What motivated you to become an instructor?
As we progressed and went on to local rides, Emma Mac at Go Velo said we should go for Breeze ride leader training, so we could continue cycling and do it independently rather than just with group sessions. I applied for that last year, once I completed the training I was then leading rides locally. They’re easy going rides. Then an opportunity came up to become an instructor [for Bikeability] and it was the logical next step.
I love supporting others to learn to cycle, especially women like myself who have not had the opportunity to do so at an earlier stage in their lives. It can be quite daunting to acquire a new skill when you’re a lot older. As children, learning can be so much easier, but when you’re older you’ve got to get over the fear, whereas children are fearless.
I love supporting others to learn to cycle, especially women like myself who have not had the opportunity to do so at an earlier stage in their lives. It can be quite daunting to acquire a new skill when you’re a lot older.
What is the best part of the job?
Definitely when someone’s new to cycling and all of sudden it just clicks and they’re away, it’s just a really awesome feeling. It’s quite overwhelming for the person and you see the joy on their face, especially if they may have been getting frustrated and impatient with themselves. They’re starting their actual cycling journey, so it’s a good moment. It’s definitely a big reward, watching that and being part of that.
What is your favourite cycling memory?
I think it has to be turning up with my friends to one of my early Go Velo adult sessions in the rain, so eager to get on a bike we were almost soaked to the bone by the end of it. It marked the beginning of a love for cycling for all of us and a catalyst for other wonderful cycling-related experiences.
I’d turn up at all the sessions, I’d never miss it. I always wanted to be there. There’s also been moments when I’ve been up in the Lake District with a group trying mountain biking for the first time.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Taking on challenges is definitely something that I’ve been doing more of since [learning to ride]. Since I’ve been cycling, I’ve been doing a lot more outdoor stuff, more challenging things, things that I would maybe think that I’m not capable of. Recently I did a little taster of some caving, I was so nervous but I just pushed myself through because I do enjoy new challenges.
I’m doing more hiking now than I did in my younger years. I’ve been trying paddle boarding and more recently I’ve gotten into indoor bouldering and attend a social group session once a month. Interestingly the indoor climbing has led me to try climbing outdoors and recently I attempted top rope climbing for the first time at Friars Crag at Hope Valley in the Peak District.
Getting through the cycling has been something that was quite a big challenge for me at the beginning, which I really enjoy now and it’s encouraging me to do other stuff, definitely.
Since I’ve been cycling, I’ve been doing a lot more outdoor stuff, more challenging things, things that I would maybe think that I’m not capable of.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Just being in the outdoors and fresh air, clean air, is all good. I had a really nice few days last year with my daughters in Snowdonia, so that’s somewhere I’d like to go again with my girls.
Do you have any top tips for people who want to start cycling or cycle more?
I would definitely recommend getting yourself booked on sessions with your local Bikeability provider, it’s never too late! I would recommend they join some led rides, some group rides, social rides if they can already ride a bike. Just reach out to friends as well. Every event we go to there’s more people you meet, more friends you make which helps their motivation rub off on you.
Most recently I’ve met some ladies who came through my Breeze rides, Sue and Christine who’ve actually sold their cars and got vans so they can have their electric bikes and everything that comes with them, portable bike washing kits and everything. They just love being outdoors and love their bikes. Every other weekend revolves around going out cycling.
I’ve been up to Gisburn Forest with them and Hurstwood on the mountain biking trails. They do a similar thing of sharing their experiences and tips and tricks, so it’s really good to get out on the social rides. You make a lot of friends and you learn a lot from other people.
Who’s your cycling hero?
I think it would have to be Fiona [Callaghan] because she was the person who instigated our journey into cycling. There are quite a few of us that have become enthusiastic in our journeys and it’s all down to her, because she was so encouraging. As well as local rides she has led every year we also go to Blackpool Ride the Lights with her, it’s a little tradition she has. It’s an evening ride and they close all the roads, it’s just like hundreds and thousands of bikes, a lot of fun with the backdrop of the tower and lights.
My instructors Emma Mac and Kirsti Grayson, who pushed for me to become a Breeze ride champion and then encouraged me to become a Bikeability instructor. Without them I never would have thought it possible, they are an inspiration.
I would definitely recommend getting yourself booked on sessions with your local Bikeability provider, it’s never too late!
Every event we go to there’s more people you meet, more friends you make which helps their motivation rub off on you.
If you weren’t a cycle instructor, what would your dream job be?
I’m a TA [teaching assistant] at a special needs school, so I do instructing on the side when I can, in holidays and in the evenings. I work with multi-sensory impaired pupils after training as a DeafBlind Intervenor last September. I’m currently working with a deaf and blind student, which is new for me this year, though I’ve worked at the SEN school now for 5 years. It’s a dream job, it’s another rewarding career.
I recently completed the Bikeability SEND training and interestingly this was familiar territory but in a context of cycling using adaptable bikes and building the awareness in instructors for ensuring accessibility for all. It’s so important we are able to share the joys of something some of us can take for granted with those who would need a little more support to access and I think it’s amazing that Bikeability have taken this initiative and provide this training.
Are there any projects or things you’re doing that you’d like to tell us about?
I recently supported students from my school on a residential trip and had the amazing opportunity to help my MSI student to top rope on a climbing wall, side by side with the support of two climbing instructors, this was an exhilarating experience for all who witnessed her reaching the top, as well as myself as it was her first experience of climbing a wall. Climbing is something I wish to explore and for this reason I have booked two more outdoor climbing weekend experiences, which I am really excited about!
I’m trying to set up a cycling group, I’ll be setting that up on Let’s Ride to hopefully get more local women cycling. Other than that, I wish to gain more skills and experience which will help me become a better ride leader and instructor, to help with this have attended a bike maintenance course and also had some basic mountain biking coaching and hoping to book more soon, so you’ll probably have to watch this space to see how far I get with it!