My Cycling Dream Becomes A Reality

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by Ifeoma Isife

I have a son, now 7 years old. I am the main carer and I take him out to ride his bike alongside other activities. I always walk behind while he is on his bike and most times, he would say ‘C’mon mummy walk fast’ or ‘you can’t catch me’ sort of phrase to make me close the gap between us or walk faster. Cycling with my son is the main motivation, his current phrase now is ‘I’m faster than you’ whenever he cycles past me.

Ifeoma and son stood facing each other as Ifeoma fastens her sons helmet.

How did you first hear about Bikeability?

A friend forwarded a free adult learn to ride summer ad from the area in which I live. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend a trial session when school resumed and the free summer session on Wednesdays ended, I could not attend the Sunday session. I searched online to check if other groups were still running on and Calderdale's City Connect Bikeability programme popped up. I tried booking with Calderdale but the dates were not open so I emailed the contact on the page and Steve Pullan contacted me back with guidance – many thanks to him.

What support did you receive to help you achieve your goals?

"I lack words to describe the support I received from the Calderdale Bikeability team, Steve and David."

In the beginning, I was unable to balance on the bike, the instructor had to hold me and the bike to ride and that happened for the most part of my first lesson. It was hilarious and one the instructor will not forget easily. I doubted myself many times and was almost giving up but they encouraged me and went the extra mile to get me cycling.

Bikeability instructor David adjusts the seat on the training bike, with Ifeomi watching and holding on to the bike.

I had a trial session with a team elsewhere, and that was a nightmare for me because of cuts from the pedals. It was a big surprise to see that the Calderdale team take off the pedals for new starters. I wrapped my legs with bandages on my first day at Calderdale but quickly discovered I didn’t need it because they take the pedals off. All Kudos to Calderdale Bikeability for having skilled trainers, I’m impressed.

The support on site helped a lot, some of the learners are terrified to get on the bike, and they go extra mile encouraging and boosting the confidence of learners.

How has participating in the Bikeability programme helped you to cycle with confidence?

"Without the City Connect Bikeability, I wouldn’t have considered cycling to start with. They made it possible."

"I'm a cyclist" It’s incredible to now be able to say those words and one of my greatest achievements since the pandemic. The icing on the cake is saying that I ride with my son, it can’t get any better than this! The team were kind enough to train my son alongside me. My husband didn’t expect much when I first started – it’s an amazing feeling indeed.

Bikeability instructor in orange hi-vis vest walking across the track towards Ifeoma stood with her bike.

How has gaining cycling skills opened up new opportunities for you? 

This has definitely opened many opportunities for me, us as a family and with friends. My husband wants to join us and a few friends have started learning to ride since I joined the City Connect programme. I’m planning to start a group cycling club with friends and cycling to work is certain once my team return back to the office.

If I can ride anyone can – let’s keep fit, tone, strengthen our legs, build stamina, lower the risk of developing health issues and help the environment . There is no time left for procrastination, cycling is the future!

"Nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it, rain hasn’t stopped me riding and I don’t see anything stopping this journey for me."

I just want to use this opportunity to thank Active Calderdale, Calderdale's Bikeability Team and CityConnect for making this dream a reality. Many thanks indeed and keep up the good work.

A message from Steve Pullan, Active Travel Officer for Active Calderdale and Calderdale Bikeability

"Following funding through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority the Calderdale Bikeability team have been able to offer funded adult cycle training, encouraging and developing confidence to make a journey by bike. From Active Calderdale insight we know that a major barrier to making journeys by bike is confidence and this training is helping address those barriers. Its been great to see the enthusiasm and energy from people like Ify getting the support and training needed, helping her and her family be more active.”

For more information and to book www.cyclecityconnect.co.uk/get-cycling/adult-cycle-training/ or contact bikeability@calderdale.gov.uk