Salayhar’s cycling story
Salayhar has been cycling in London for 10 years and is an original member of the JoyRiders London cycling club. She credits her friend Carolyn who founded the group for encouraging her to get pedalling.
How did you get into cycling?
When a women’s cycling group started in my area in Waltham Forest, I felt encouraged to join. The group boosted my confidence. Cycling in a group really made me feel comfortable about cycling and stop caring about what people might think.
How did you overcome challenges?
In terms of a physical challenge, my face cover did sometimes get caught in the wind and cover my eyes but this was easily dealt with by using a pin to attach it to my clothes. Besides this I managed to cycle even while wearing the full Islamic dress.
What advice would you give to women who are thinking of cycling?
Be confident! If you need help, advice or think you can’t cycle alone then find out where your nearest cycle training classes or groups are – your local council is a good place to start.
There’s lots of help online too. I bought my bike from Peddle My Wheels, a second-hand bike market. I’ve since bought a second bike!
Where are your favourite places to cycle in London?
I’d never cycled in my area before – my first cycle with JoyRiders was from Walthamstow Central to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – the first day I got my bike I repeated the route with my daughter – I’m always discovering new routes with the group.
A really good place for beginners is the Walthamstow Wetlands. I feel really comfortable riding through – it’s safe, quiet and very few cars. It’s a nice space to explore, relax and chill out in nature. There’s a great coffee shop as well!
What are some of the benefits of cycling?
Cycling has become my hobby – it’s very relaxing and good for reducing stress. It’s also brilliant for socialising and making new friends. We started with 10 people in the club originally – now there are more than 100 members.
It’s also given me good one-to-one time with my children – cycling together is good for giving them individual attention. My children now all cycle, and my daughter and her friends go cycling together!
I also feel healthier physically and mentally. When I’m feeling down I’ll go for a little cycle to lift myself. I definitely encourage other women in a similar position to myself to take up cycling.