Four generations of a Dewsbury family are keeping healthy through pedal power.
It started when Samerah Darr, a practice nurse at the Healds Road Surgery, decided it was time to learn to ride a bike after trying to keep up with her husband and two children’s rides along the Spen Valley Greenway.
“They were all on their bikes and I had to try to keep up by walking or jogging alongside them,” said Samerah. “Then a colleague suggested going to Streetbikes to learn how to ride.
“I had one-to-one lessons and great support from them as I learned to cycle around the track behind Spenborough Pool. I picked it up within a couple of hours and now I ride with my family most weekends at least.
“My two children and husband are very proud now that we can cycle as a family, keep fit and have fun at the same time.
“I got my mother involved and even my granddad, who’s 86, now rides a trike. It’s really great exercise and great fun.”
Samerah’s mother, Zaitun Iqbal, speaking during a Saturday afternoon cycling session at Princess Mary Athletics Stadium behind Spenborough Pool in Cleckheaton, said, “We started coming in October and we’ve been here every Saturday whatever the weather. Rain, snow, cold – we’ve been here and we wouldn’t want to miss it now. I’ve lost weight, my diabetes has improved and I feel much fitter thanks to cycling.”
Samerah and Zaitun have both been given bikes by Streetbikes to encourage them to continue cycling.
Another of Samerah’s practice nurse colleagues is Kath Greaves, who is also a member of the Governing Body of NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, the body that chooses and pays for many local NHS services.
Kath said, “Cycling is a great way to keep fit and have fun at the same time. It’s really important for all of us to take exercise because it helps keep our joints, muscles and organs in good health as well as helping to keep the weight off.
“Being overweight and taking little exercise is very bad for our health in lots of ways. Even a little gentle exercise now and again is better than nothing but the ideal is to take at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week that makes us out of breath.
“Particularly if you haven’t taken exercise for some time, if you’re overweight or have other health problems it’s best to make an appointment with your local GP practice to discuss what exercise is best for you and to make sure you don’t cause yourself any harm.”
Kath said that cultural barriers were often obstacles to Asian women taking exercise but there were women-only sessions in a variety of activities, including cycling sessions with Streetbikes.
“Cycling is also something that can be done with your body well covered, which is a good thing with the weather we get here much of the year.”
Streetbikes is a local community interest company (which means it exists to do good rather than make money) running cycling training and exercise sessions at venues all over Kirklees.
Gill Greaves, project co-ordinator of Streetbikes, said: “We’ve helped lots of people of all ages and backgrounds learn to ride, sometimes overcoming what seem like big barriers.
“Sometimes when someone has a weakness on one side, for example, riding a bike can help redevelop muscle memory and increase their strength, which helps not just with cycling but also walking, balance and other everyday activities.
“We’ve got a range of adapted bikes and trikes, including some powered with your hands rather than your feet, which opens up cycling to people with a wide range of skills and confidence levels.”
Gill said lots of Asian women particularly joined in the women-only cycling sessions run by Streetbikes.
“We’ve got about 200 Asian ladies involved now and many of them are also cycling outside our organised sessions. The Spen Valley Greenway is a great place to cycle in safety and more and more people are using it.”
Women-only cycling sessions to learn to ride, get fit and have fun are held at Savile Town Wharf in Dewsbury every Tuesday starting from 9.30am to 11.30am. If you need to borrow a bike you must book in advance. For more information about these and other Streetbikes activities call 07873 773417.
For further information call 01924 504900