Date: 11 January 2022 Author: Energise Me
After becoming fed up of walking alone, Sindhu decided to learn how to cycle so she and her family could get active together.
I’m Sindhu and I am over 40 years old. I was born in India on the southmost coast and I grew up and went to school there. Five years ago I moved to the UK for work. Before that, I travelled a lot having lived in Germany, Dubai and America.
I work in IT and my job can sometimes be very stressful. Some days I start early in the morning and don’t finish until after 7 pm.
I am married and I have two daughters; one is at university and the other is currently doing her GCSE’s.
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 look at them and think, “that’s something I’ll never be able to do”. 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. I couldn’t make my body pedal.
Everyone in my family can ride apart from me, so I have always thought cycling is something we could do together. That’s what made me start exploring my options.
I came home and told my family that I didn’t think I would be able to do it.
I thought “Why not” and started searching for opportunities to learn. That’s when 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. I said, “I don’t know the basics and I don’t have a bike, will you be happy to take me on your programme?”.
Surprisingly, they said yes! We confirmed I would have 2-3 sessions one to one with an instructor to help me learn the basics. I wasn’t hopeful as I didn’t think this was enough time to learn, but I thought I’d give it a try.
I was working full time but had some holiday booked so we did the lessons during this time. The instructors, Andy and Jane, were really helpful. They had a bike and helmet for me to use and started with baby steps. They would walk with me and tell me what to do. I think I did see some progression after the first session.
After the second lesson, they put the pedals on and asked me to reach them on my own. I just couldn’t get it. I don’t know what my problem was and I left the lesson feeling disappointed. Once home and told my family that I didn’t think I would be able to do it.
It was like something just clicked in me. I was so surprised; I am so glad I didn’t give up!
I kept thinking it over and trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I ended up watching some videos online to try and see what was going wrong. In the next lesson, Andy took some videos of me trying to cycle and this helped me see what I was doing.
Andy was so hopeful, he said it might take 5 days or it might take 10, you never know. But he always motivated me to keep tyring. I planned to give it 5 sessions before I gave up.
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.
Andy and Jane then helped me to find a bike of my own to buy. I got a second hand one and they helped me make sure it was right for me and then set it up to my height.
My plan was to join the Ride Rushmoor cycling group, but then I had to isolate because of COVID so couldn’t get out on the rides. I watched them on Instagram but I was so disappointed to not be able to take part after putting in so much work to learn to ride. Once I was out of isolation, work got busy so I didn’t have time to join the rides.
Luckily, there is a good cycle path on the estate I live in. During the summer I used to go for long hour and a half rides 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. I cycled all summer, but now it’s getting a bit too cold, I need to buy some gloves! I am excited to get back out next summer.
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 felt very freeing being able to get out on my bike in the 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.
I am very thankful to Ride Rushmoor and the council for helping me learn. My mental block has gone away now. If I hadn’t seen that advert on Facebook, I don’t think I would ever have learnt to ride.
I have been telling all my friends and posting my story on my Instagram. I speak about it to everyone, especially people in my community. A lot of people think age is a barrier and that they can’t make time. They think it’s impossible to learn at our age and I tell them what I have done.
I think swimming will be my next thing. Everyone in my family can swim apart from me.
Find out how you can improve your cycling or join a cycling club. There is also free bike maintenance and other support available in Rushmoor.Visit site
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