Doing what she loves: Meet cycling instructor Liz Porter

We caught up with Liz to hear all about how attending our free adult cycle training sessions has transformed her life.

“Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life” – or so the saying goes. It might not be 100% the case but there’s definitely some truth in it, as Liz Porter found out when she became a cycling instructor.

A career in cycling’s not for everyone of course, but from the feel-good factor and physical health benefits to saving time and money, exploring new places and meeting new people, the potential for life-enhancing experiences on the bike is open to all of us.

We caught up with Liz, who lives in Shipley, to hear all about how attending our free adult cycle training sessions has transformed her life - from someone who was feeling a bit lost to a happy and fulfilling career as a cycling instructor.

I’ve always loved cycling, riding a mountain bike since my late teens, but it was only when I went to university that bikes became my life as I started commuting for the first time.

I don’t have a car and that’s a conscious decision.  Cycling is so empowering – you can go everywhere and do everything by bike if you make the time and get organised.

I struggle with the lack of light in the winter so just being outside on the bike is good in that respect.  It’s good for my mental health and I don’t like going to the gym so it’s a great way to keep fit too. It’s good for everything really. 

My neighbor recommended the free cycle training sessions with CityConnect, so I signed up to one of the bike maintenance sessions in Bradford and it all went from there really. 

Feeling lost

I was unemployed at the time. I had retrained as a social worker in 2015 but after qualifying I decided it wasn’t for me, so I was getting by picking up bits of work here and there.

I was drifting, feeling a bit lost and thinking “what am I going to do” - I thought I was going to be a social worker, I can’t bear the thought of working in an office.  I felt stuck.

After I completed the bike maintenance training, I went on to take part in two more cycle skills training sessions, building my confidence on the road.

As I didn’t have a job at at the time I was also able to access a free bike through the scheme. 

I had been getting around on an old heavy mountain bike with 26-inch wheels so having a bike that was more practical and efficient for getting around on the road was a great help.

A change of direction

Since completing the training I’ve gone on to train as a cycling instructor and obtained paid work teaching other people to learn to ride and to build their confidence and skills at Lister Park, as well as teaching in Bradford schools.

Now I work for a charity called Street Bikes at Cleckheaton two days a week, leading rides along the greenway, and organising women-only rides and track sessions.

Seeing so many people learn to ride, especially women who didn’t believe in themselves, who didn’t think they could do it, just to see the look on their faces and the giddiness of it all when they do ride for the first time, it’s such a pleasure.  

I didn’t even know it was possible for me to earn a living teaching cycling, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about it. 

The whole thing has transformed my life and I know that sounds dramatic but it really has. 

I think I can safely say the work I do now is the only work I have ever truly loved doing. I love getting up in the morning.

Liz’s advice to others?

Find a group of people to go out with.  One of the women I taught at Lister Park now goes out with the Bingley Belles, a women-only cycling group. 

Being out with people who already cycle and have more experience is always helpful and there’s the social aspect of group riding too.