I caught the bike bug in 2016 when I first learned how to cycle. Since then I have been cycling for pleasure, and what a pleasure it is. There’s nothing I love more than cycling through our beautiful landscapes and giving myself time to reflect on nature.
Unfortunately, it’s not all been smooth pedalling, as I had a nasty fall just six months after learning to ride. It took time to recover from this physically, and longer to gain back my confidence. I was determined to do it and gave myself the goal of signing up to Pedal for Scotland in 2017 to raise money for charity. This was just the motivation I needed.
In an effort to keep the momentum going, I organised a weekly cycling group called The Hijabi Dawn Riders. We are the Dawn Riders because early Saturday mornings are most convenient for us all. Our all-female group consists of varying levels of cycling proficiency but everyone is welcome and we use this group to build our confidence and improve our skills. Before each ride we collectively decide a meeting point, and research the route and destination – which must include a hot chocolate from a cafe that’s open from 8am! This always helps to motivate us, especially during the cold winter months.
We always start off somewhere in Pollokshields and cycle out to various green spaces across Glasgow. We have been to Bellahouston park, Kelvingrove park, Glasgow Green, Queens park, Pollok Park, Rouken Glen park, as well as Crookston Castle and Cuningar Loop. We’ve also ventured further afield to Lochwinnoch but we did require a more experienced ride leader – thank you to Mahnoor! Also, for our return journey we decided to take the train so that we could be home in time for our little ones waking up.
Cycling together as a group has meant that we have learned from each other, shared our knowledge and skills, and provided much needed support. Always checking the weather forecast beforehand, and being prepared for all eventualities have been essential lessons and now we never leave without our waterproofs. Other hazards have included pot holes and puncture inducing debris found on many Glasgow roads. These have resulted in some very beneficial learning experiences, as we have learned how to fix flat tyres and punctures. We’ve also identified those of us who require further training on basic bike maintenance.
One of my personal highlights has been recording our rides on Strava. Most people use this as a fitness tracker, trying to beat personal bests or as a social networking tool, but I use it to record the scenery, city landmarks and the hearty warm breakfasts and hot chocolates that keep us going.
What next? Some of the girls have used our regular adventures as an opportunity to train for upcoming cycling challenges, as well as other charity fundraising events. This is great not only for our motivation, but also to grow our group as more and more people have been showing an interest and even joining up. Watch out for The Hijabi Dawn Riders next time you’re out early on a Saturday morning, you can’t miss us!
Blog post by Kashfa N Haroon