Gaynor's Cycling Journey Gaynor is one of our Learning Support Assistants at the college but in her spare time is also an active cycler. She has written a reflective monologue of her cycling journey, sharing her highlights of sport. Why Cycling is important to me . . . Cycling has always equalled freedom. As a child, it seemed a logical next step: I crawled, walked, ran, so how could I get there faster? I learned to ride a bike quickly (thanks to my dad) aged 3 and a suitable ‘hand-me-down’ bike was sourced. No stabilizers required! Having my own wheels gave me independence, coupled with my freedom, now meant I could go further, faster and still get back in time for my tea! I loved being outdoors, exploring new areas in the local community, both on and off the road and I could choose to join in with other kids on bikes and be part of their gang too. I was daring. A girl on a bike with Cow-Horn handlebars and neon grips, who could ‘pull wheelies’, ride ‘no-handed’ and jump the mounds of earth designed for BMX bikes just as good as some of the local lads. It was thrilling! I worked hard on my being able to adapt quickly to both terrain and situation. Cycling equalled fun and had become inclusive. I got faster, I could go further and I got fitter. Having a bike was like having a golden ticket to a whole new community of people who shared my passion for cycling. Sharing this passion remains key and continues to motivate me on my daily commute, especially on a wet and windy day! Cycling has enabled me to take part in some awesome challenges, do charitable deeds, see some beautiful parts of the country and above all, maintain both mental & physical well-being. I have made and retained great friendships through cycling. Despite no longer being able to pull a decent wheelie, or feel the need to ride the length of our street no-handed, I still consider myself one of the gang! Gaynor as a child Cycling Highlights Teaching my nieces to ride bikes Cycling along the seafront in Les Sables-d'Olonne, France (purchasing fresh bread) Joining CycleScheme and being a member of Cycling in Sandwell Completing London Night Rider (60miles) Cycling Santas, Age UK, distributing presents to elderly residents of care homes. My regular commute to/from Fircroft College (9miles) Cycling Hero & Inspiration Beryl Burton (1937 –1996) English racing cyclist, winner of 96 national championships, 7 world titles. Current Bike Giant Talon 5 (MTB) Purchased through CycleScheme Benefits to my Cycling Health – Keeping fit (Thighs of steel) connects you with others and the outdoors. Economical – It's cheap, no fuel costs, parking tickets or fines to pay, cheap to maintain. Reliable - Quicker than in my car, fewer car parking issues! Environmental – No emissions, positive impact on climate change. Favourite Cycle Ride THE MAWDDACH TRAIL, Barmouth to Dolgellau (North Wales) Spectacular estuary views (9.5 miles) Last Cycle ride Titford/Birmingham Canal ride into Birmingham and out via Edgbaston Reservoir, Harborne Cycle Way and Woodgate Valley. Motivation for National Cycling Week (6 – 14 June 2020) To cycle 7 rides over 7 consecutive days and capture each ride with a photograph (to share) Hope for the future Improved Cycling infrastructure nationally but especially in and around Birmingham, to enable cyclists to feel safer on the road & encourage more cyclists. Cycling Tip for today We are in the Highway Code, be assured, not smug! Join Gaynor and other staff members at our National cycling week zoom event on June 11th 2pm-3pm. To register, please email your name and title of this event to [email protected].ac.uk and you will be contacted with a Zoom link.