Freedom of the city: Meet Sam Hunter, a Project Manager at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Hear how this former runner built up the confidence through cycle training to take up cycling instead.
Sam Hunter thought cycling was not for her, but during the national lockdown she resolved to “give it a go”.
A project manager at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sam signed up for free cycle training being laid on at her workplace. The training was delivered by community cycle club Onna Bike and funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme.
Using skills acquired through the training and taking advantage of new cycle routes in Bradford, she now can’t believe the freedom that cycling offers.
Running had always been Sam Hunter’s activity of choice. Sadly, she had torn a muscle a couple of times in the last two years and her consultant had recommended cycling as an alternative. During the spring lockdown in 2020, Sam decided to go for it.
"I couldn't ride a bike, but a friend lent me hers and I had a few wobbly rides around the street. I decided I was just going to give it a go. So I bought a bike and just kept taking myself off to the Spen Valley Greenway, which was like a ‘comfort blanket’ for me – a good traffic-free route.”
When Sam heard about the training available to her at work, she took the opportunity to improve her cycle skills and to build up her confidence for riding on the road.
Confidence is key
“The first time on the road, I was a little nervous. As a car driver you have some knowledge of being on the road, but cycle training gives you more confidence about what you can and can’t do on a bike, and how best to position yourself.
“The training was really good. Mumtaz and Andrew, the instructors, were so patient. The instructions were clear and they went over things a few times until you felt confident. I learnt a lot and would highly recommend it. All of my colleagues who have done the training also said they got a lot out of it.”
Sam wanted to continue practicing the skills she learnt through the training, so she joined Bingley Belles, a women's community cycling group which offers beginner level rides.
“I felt a group like Bingley Belles would be brilliant for me to keep building my confidence. But it’s a whole new social circle as well. With the new lockdown we can still meet one other person to ride with.
Recently, I cycled with one other ‘Belle’ from Saltaire to Riddlesden, all on the main Bradford Road – over 10 miles there and back. The on-road cycle training really prepared me for that – I felt okay!”
“When I first got on a bike with my friend, I was wobbling all over the place. I now feel proud because I have achieved something by learning to cycle.
“There’s a real feeling of freedom when cycling. You can’t walk 10 miles very easily but you can cycle 10 miles in a fraction of the time. I really hadn’t anticipated that feeling of freedom.
“Cycling has opened-up doors for me - for exercise, for well-being and for meeting new people.
“I have been on the Canal Road cycleway – that is a lovely green cycle route. I thought, ‘I could cycle on a route like this all day long - I feel safe on here’. It's a shame there aren’t cycle lanes everywhere.”