Meet Octavia, who overcame insecurities by being active.
Mum of two, Sindhu never learnt to ride a bike as a child. She struggled to see others out on their bikes together, whilst she stayed active by walking alone. So, now, in her 40’s she decided to take a chance and learn to ride.
I’ve always enjoyed travelling and exploring, not just abroad, but in my local area too. I like to get out for a walk and be in nature. Living in Aldershot, I am very lucky as there are so many lovely places to walk. I go out into the woods a lot. In the summer I often go for two-hour walks.
Although I love walking, I miss having company on my walks. My family don’t really like walking so it’s a bit of a problem always having to go on my own. When I am out walking, I have always seen people out on their bikes by the canals.
I’ve always wanted to learn to ride a bike, but I have never been able to. My dad tried to teach me when I was a child and then so did my brother, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I had quite a bad fall and got hurt. This seemed to cause a mental block for me. They’d push me to go on my own on the bike and I would just freeze. My body just wouldn’t pedal.
I saw an advert for Ride Rushmoor on the council’s Facebook page. I wasn’t hopeful they’d be able to help me since my skill level was so low, but I emailed them and asked if they could help me. We did a few sessions but I felt hopeless, I just couldn’t get it. I nearly gave up, but then we videoed me on the bike so I could watch myself back and see where I was going wrong.
Surprisingly, in the next lesson, I started riding on my own. It was like something just clicked in me. I was so surprised; I am so glad I didn’t give up! I came home and told my family “I am doing it”, they were all so happy for me.
Luckily, there is a good cycle path on the estate I live in. During the summer I used to go for a long hour and a half ride on my own. To start with I just went out near my home, but as I got more confident, I ventured further afield.
I would go cycling, places I had walked before and was familiar with. Every day, I could see myself gaining more confidence. All summer I cycled. Now it’s getting a bit too cold, I need to buy some gloves! I am excited to get back out next summer.
I definitely think cycling has helped my mood increase. My work is so stressful at times and cycling helps. One day at 5pm I messaged my boss and said “I am so stressed, I need to get away for an hour” and went out for a ride. I felt a lot better after a ride.
It’s becoming a fallback mechanism for me now. Whenever I am stressed out I know I can get out on my bike and I will feel better. It’s helping me a lot and my physical health has improved as well.