Hop on and go: meet Zahida Rafiq, newly enthusiastic cyclist, trained from scratch

Huddersfield primary school teacher Zahida Rafiq  had wanted to learn to ride a bike for some time. She’d tried in the past with the support of her family but never got fully up to speed.  

She finally made her cycling breakthrough in 2020,  thanks to cycle training from community cycle group HopOn Bike. 

In the summer of 2020, HopOn Bike provided a  programme of free adult cycle training funded by CityConnect’s Community Grants scheme. 

Zahida tells us how she got involved with the programme, and how she’s developed her confidence on two wheels with the ongoing support of the group. 

I set myself the goal of learning to ride a bike in 2020. I started by taking a shared family bike to a local park in Bradford, but to be honest I really didn’t know where to start. 

Then I came across the HopOn Bike team, who were  teaching people to cycle in Lister Park. So I booked onto some training sessions with them. 

What really came across from all the instructors with  HopOn was their passion – they were great. Initially I was nervous, I was worried I might be intimidated by the other riders. But the team were really encouraging, they made me feel comfortable. They just believed that I would learn to ride – and they would always say ‘you can do it!’.    

The training was very well structured and organised, that's what I really loved about it. I would learn skills at a session, then practice on my own, and then go back the next week and learn some more skills.  

It took me a little longer than some other people there, but every week I kept going. They made me believe I could do it.  

Confidence to ‘give it a try’ 

For anyone wondering whether cycle training would work for them, I’d say go along and give it a tryThe training is available for anyone and everyone - there's no age limit. If you just wanted to go along and observe a session, that would probably give you the confidence to go ahead and book – just like me.  

The cycling bug has rubbed off on family  members  too. Zahida’s son followed her lead, getting involved with HopOn’s family sessions run at weekends.   

My teenage son built up his confidence at the family sessions and improved his own cycling skills. In the future, I hope we can enjoy going out on rides as a family. 
I’d like to see more people out cycling, and more youngsters out on their bikes. There should be more bike lanes. How about Sunday becoming a day mostly for cycling and walking, for the majority of people?   
After a little more training, when I feel a little more confident, I’m planning to buy my own bike. Another good thing about the training is you can try out a few different bikes – so I’ve a better idea now of the sort of bike I feel comfortable on. 
I would really like it if there were more opportunities like this – to help people get back on bikes or to learn to begin with. I’m just so glad it was available for me.  Learning to ride is something that I loved about last year.  

CityConnect is proud to work with organisations at the heart of our region’s communities, helping people to overcome transport barriers and access employment, education, training and leisure opportunities by bike or on foot. 

Since 2018 we have awarded 35 organisations a total of more than £225,000 in funding through our Community Grants scheme. In 2021 we will  again be working with local non-profit  organisations to reach even more people across West Yorkshire.  

See more on our work with communities - Our work with communities - CityConnect (cyclecityconnect.co.uk)