Learning to Cycle at 60 – Annie’s Story

At 60-years-old, Annie was struggling with her health, she had severe asthma and was diagnosed with diabetes. After entering into early retirement, her doctor prescribed her a free 12-week gym programme, in hopes of improving her physical health.

“I went and started at the gym, and then when I went back to see him, I’d made significant progress with my diabetes and asthma. He said to me, ‘Would you like to go out to this lady’s group called Saheli?.’”

Funded through partnership with Sport England Active Communities programme and The Active Wellbeing Society, Saheli have helped women across Birmingham take part in physical activities like running, cycling, swimming, Zumba, pilates, yoga and so much more.

Through her connecting with Saheli, Annie joined a Couch to 5K running group as well as a cycling group, where she was able to learn to ride a bicycle, something she had wanted to do since her childhood.

“All three of my brothers had bikes and I was like, well, ‘Where’s mine?’ One of the things that’s been a significant turning point for me is the fact that I went and learned to cycle at the age of, you know, over 60-years-old.”

Unfortunately, during lockdown of March 2020, Annie became very ill with Covid, and was hospitalised for a number of weeks. She needed physiotherapy and speech therapy to help her walk and talk again. Covid not only affected her physically, but also impacted her mental health.

“I had PTSD, which was the mental health side of it, which caved in with Covid. Normally I’m a mentally strong person, but it just knocked me for six.”

Despite her struggle with Covid, Annie was determined to join the Saheli women’s activities once restrictions were lifted, and began her journey to improving her physical health again.

Last year, Annie was gifted her very own bike, as a celebration of her motivation and achievements.

“I was just so overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say or what to do. It was amazing for me to feel that feeling of having received that as a gift at my age. It actually opens up possibilities for me to not use a car all the time as well, which is green and healthy and good for me as well.”

 “I want this to filter down generations after me that this is what their grandmother did. Saying, ‘You know, our great grandmother learned to ride at this age and then she was given a bike and she was so proud and happy.’ I just want all that to filter down to the girls in my generation and generations to come.”

This year, Annie is looking forward to spring, and is planning trips with her family and friends to different rural parts of Birmingham on her bike.

“I just had visions of like having picnics in our backpacks and just going off to one park and then another and another and in the day are just cycling around the various parks.

We are currently running a range of free activities, you can search for ones near you here. Visit our website to find out more.

Zaima Khaliq
Author: Zaima Khaliq