When my eldest daughter finally learned to ride her bike without stabilisers and could “go a two-wheeler” as we called it back in the day, she wanted to go out on it as often as humanly possible! She had an amazing new-found confidence and desire to be outdoors which my husband and I really wanted to encourage. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac so she could safely go up and down on her bike, but within no time she wanted more! Unfortunately, her little sister had just turned 3 at the time and couldn’t go a bike so we were limited on where, and how fast(!), we could go. We needed a solution! Good old gumtree came to the rescue and I bought a pre-owned child bike seat for a very reasonable £10! It was in great condition and fit perfectly on my (old!) bike.
I hadn’t been on a bike for more years than I’d like to admit….so I was a little nervous and hesitant. Fast forward to the next sunny day and we’re on our first family bike ride! My husband thankfully took the old bike and I borrowed his. We literally only cycled for 15-20 minutes to school and back, but it was AMAZING fun and a brilliant start to our life as a cycling family! I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how comfortable I felt on a bike after all those years.
I work in Edinburgh and take the train three days a week. I used to walk to the station, and it would take me about 20 minutes (if I power walked!). I decided to give the bike a go and discovered I could get to the station in 5 minutes! It was a great and welcomed time saver (I’m a bit of a late and last-minute kind of person!) and it gave me a bit of a rush as it’s all downhill!
I then found that anywhere I was going, that wasn’t on a motorway or long distance, I was taking my bike. I felt a bit like Forrest Gump when he says, “from that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!” (but cycling obviously!) Nip to the shops - bike. Into town to see a client - bike. To the hairdressers - bike. Not sure how my hairdresser feels about me plonking a helmet on the masterpiece she’s been working on for the last three hours but hey ho!
I now also aim to go a longer cycle on my own every weekend. I do about 12 miles in 45 minutes so far - it’s a nice wee quick session to improve my fitness, get some much-needed time to myself(!) and blow away the mental cobwebs.
I’m a Counsellor by profession so mental wellbeing is very important to me and an integral part of my life and work. I can now openly and authentically talk to clients about the benefits of exercising and getting outdoors to improve mental health. Not just from the release of endorphins, and because cycling is energising, but from reconnecting with the environment, gaining a sense of achievement and building self-confidence.
We still go out on plenty of family bike rides too. It’s great for cycling to the ice cream shop for a wee treat and it can easily turn an uneventful, ordinary day into something exciting - recently we took the bikes to Stirling university to cycle round the loch and stopped to feed the ducks and have a picnic.
My eldest daughter and I have even signed up to do a 6k charity Santa cycle. We’re really looking forward to it and have enjoyed training for it too! There are plenty places locally we can go to practice and build up stamina and it’s been great to spend time together, just the two of us.
Cycling now feels like a key part of our daily lives and I can’t imagine going back to old ways. It feels like “free exercise” because it’s part of my commute and I can feel the physical benefits and notice the changes in my fitness and mental wellbeing. I’d really like to do a race or cycling challenge next year and have even asked Santa for a new bike for Christmas!
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