“The bike ability course gave me the confidence to ride on the road and I learnt all the hand signals needed to ride safely whilst improving my riding technique”

When I was younger I remember my dad going out on the weekends for long periods of time and when he came back he would tell my sister and I where he went and the different places he visited (and the cakes he would eat).

As I started Junior school, I noticed all my friends were either starting to ride a bike or had already learnt and, like any other child, I wanted to do the same. My first bike was a ‘Dora the Explorer’ bike and when my dad came home from work he would walk next to me whilst I rode my bike. As I continued to practice I began to get stronger and faster, and eventually with only one stabiliser. However, I was too scared to ride without stabilisers for fear of falling down and hurting myself.

We then moved home to where we are now and near where we live is an open car park that my dad would take me to practice riding my bike. My dad then removed the one stabiliser I had and after shedding many tears, suffering knee bruises along with riding in to a couple of trees, I eventually managed to ride my bike with only two wheels.

This, however, wasn’t enough for me as my dad was keen to take me out riding with him and whilst he would cycle on the road, I would ride on the pavement. Eventually I outgrew my Dora bike and I got my first mountain bike. This bike allowed me to ride longer distances whilst also helping me to build strength in my legs. I eventually became confident enough to ride on the road with my dad but I remember being intimidated by all of the road traffic. As I hadn’t done a bike ability course in school, my dad enrolled me in to the bike ability course at Watford Cycle Hub where I met Fiona and Georgia.

The bike ability course gave me the confidence to ride on the road and I learnt all the hand signals needed to ride safely whilst improving my riding technique. Once I finished level two of bike ability I joined a Friday evening riding class with the Hub where I, along with others, would venture out on longer rides along the Ebury Way and surrounding roads. I then went to complete my bike ability level three.

When I got my certificate, my dad bought me a hybrid bike, which is what I am currently riding. Riding this bike is a lot easier than my old mountain bike because it is lighter and, in turn, I found myself pushing my limits more and more. As my confidence continued to improve my dad would take me out on longer road rides around the Northwood, Pinner and Watford areas where we would always stop and have a hot chocolate to help keep me motivated.

Early last year my dad asked if I wanted to do the Prudential nineteen-mile ride but did say that we would have to ride to the start and ride back. This sounded scary but I was keen to do it. In order to prepare for this I was practising a lot more by going on guided rides with Watford Cycle Hub as well as doing one 2 one training with Georgia to help me with my speed and my efficient use of gearing so I could climb hills with relative ease. On ride day, my dad as well as some of his friends, rode to the start of the nineteen-mile event and completed it (stopping off for a hot chocolate on the way home). By the end of the day, my nineteen-mile adventure had turned into a 43-mile ride and somewhere in the middle, I picked up a medal.

Since that ride I have continued to go out cycling with my dad, as I wanted to ride the forty-six mile Prudential ride this year. The training for that meant I had to do even longer rides to help build up my stamina. One of the rides to help me prepare for the event would have been the forty-five mile Birmingham Velo which I would have ridden with the SJ ladies cycling group. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, both events were cancelled.

I still go out riding with my dad, as I would like to enter next year’s Prudential forty-six and any other cycling events that happen throughout the year. Eventually, I will ride the Prudential 100.

Shahina Chandoo