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Stories: Julie

"And the one thing I will always be grateful for is Pedal Ready..."
My name is Julie, I am 61 years old, unfit and overweight. I never had a bicycle as a child, my mother considered there to be too much traffic on the roads. At first I missed not having a bike but as I grew older it didn’t seem to matter as much. No one I went around with rode a bicycle and so I didn’t feel left out, and once I started secondary school and then work it wasn’t something I thought about.

Then at 55 I took early retirement, and my husband and I purchased a touring caravan. We went all over, enjoying parts of Britain that we had never visited before. It was now that I started to notice how many people had bicycles – and it was all ages, a lot were older than even me. But had they always ridden, how would someone of my age and lack of stability cope? I can fall over my own feet at the best of times, could I manage to stay upright on two thin tyres.

I wanted to learn to ride but I didn’t know whether I could or where to find someone to teach me so I just kept quiet. Then last year I started to think even more about learning to ride so I started to look on the internet, to see if there were any places that would teach me – and eventually I found Pedal Ready. I kept looking at the web-site. It seemed the right place but I just couldn’t work up the courage to ring. Would they say I was too old, too fat and too clumsy. So I kept looking at the site but that was all.

This year we swapped our caravan for a motorhome and it even came with a bike rack. Was this a sign? Then while we were at a campsite I was chatting to a lady in her seventies who rode a bicycle and I explained that I would love to learn. She said that she didn’t think I ever would as I was too old now. That made me even more determined to learn.

So eventually I plucked up the courage to call. Sue answered the phone and was really friendly and immediately put me at ease. I explained about my age and never having ridden a bicycle and she understood how I felt as she had learned as an adult and had been nervous too. So I filled in the form and booked a lesson for that week. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I turned up for the lesson, but Dave my instructor was brilliant. I can’t really remember much about that first lesson as I was so nervous and the effect of concentrating wore me out, but what I do remember was being so thrilled that I had actually managed to ride on my own. Okay so it was only a few feet but it meant so much to me, I was on my way to being able to ride.
Over the next few weeks I mastered turning which sound easy but wasn’t, first one way and then the other and eventually a figure of eight. I was growing in confidence week by week and boring my husband rigid with my progress. I have to admit I was so excited that I was progressing that it didn’t matter to me how slowly because I was allowed to do it at my own pace. There is still a way to go before I can consider myself a cyclist, my setting off is very wobbly, I can’t always make the bicycle go where I want it to and I’m just starting to get to grip with the gears. But I know that I will get there. 

And the one thing I will always be grateful for is Pedal Ready, I couldn’t have done it without them. So if you want to learn to ride give them a call – you won’t regret it.