I am 70 years old and had my lockdown birthday last year in November. I have been dreaming about riding a bike for years, ever since I came to the UK in 1963.
In India, I would go around on my bike on the roads, hearing lots of horns. My daughter bought me a fold-up bike for my birthday, and I was over the moon.
I loved cycling in India, but when I came to the UK, I never cycled because I was busy working double shifts to make a living for my family. When my daughter was eight, we got her a fold-up bike, and I used to ride this here and there. This last year in lockdown, I was determined to learn again.
My daughter booked my lessons – the London Borough of Hounslow offer free cycle training, which I am grateful for – and I was able to finally – and properly – learn to ride a bike. The feeling was just amazing, I felt like I was on air. I could feel the wind on my face and I couldn’t believe I was actually cycling by myself, with no support.
My daughter posted a video on Twitter and people were inspired and wanted to know how to get their parents cycling. Some people who were younger than me said I inspired them to cycle and it was such a lovely positive response.
I am a strong believer in challenging myself, and I think that age is nothing but a number. I want women from my community to put their health first. I am planning to set up an aunties cycling club where we go to parks and then have a picnic which will involve masala chai and samosas, and maybe even the odd onion bhaji or two!
It has been really hard to motivate myself this last year, but the thing that kept me going was knowing that I had my bike and lessons booked in. I did have a small fall while learning but didn’t hurt myself, as the teacher was there to help me.
I felt that this was the right time to learn because the last year has caused many of us, including myself, to feel low and unmotivated.
Now, I feel that my video has encouraged more elderly women from the Sikh community to get involved, and this makes me more determined to keep going. Health is wealth and if we stay active at this age, we are looking after our physical and mental health.
I had my varicose veins removed this week – and I was ready to get on my bike again, but the doctor said I need to rest. I can’t sit around so I will go out for a walk. I even learned to skip this last year as my husband is the skipping Sikh and I wanted to be like him, so I gave it a go and loved it.
Cycling helps me to be independent and to be free. I can go and do some food shopping, go to the shops and not worry about depending on anyone to take me.
As told to Minreet Kaur