Mohammed Ali, Manchester
Mohammed Ali, Tony Cramp, Mossab Ben Jabar and Usman Yousaf of North Manchester Community Cycle Club

Cycling lights up life for former smoker Mohammed

Mohammed Ali was a chainsmoker with a poor diet whose attempts to start a new exercise regime always seemed to end in failure.

Mohammed tried kickboxing, gym sessions, swimming, squash and tennis but was unable to commit to any of them as he juggled family life and work.

Then he discovered cycling – and it has helped change his life.

Not only that, Mohammed is now helping to change other people’s lives having played a key role in setting up a Cycling UK Community Cycle Club in North Manchester.

Getting out on a bike has given 44-year-old Mohammed a new-found energy, not to mention helping him lose weight and give up smoking.

Mohammed, a Community Welfare Officer, said: “I came into contact with the Community Cycle Club project via Transport for Greater Manchester’s website through work.

“I invested in a bike which was not brand new but decent enough to start riding and safe on the road. Now to think of it, it’s the best investment I’ve made for a very long time. I find cycling very practical, easy fun and it reminds me of the good old days.

“I then completed a basic bike session to start learning to ride again in South Manchester's Alexander Park, then attended a basic bike repair course in Bury.

“Soon after I was riding at least once a month and started to ride short distances, but now I can ride easily for 3-5 miles.

I feel energetic and light on my feet. I have gained stamina, have lost weight and become fitter. Emotionally, I feel happier and confident.”

Mohammed Ali, Assistant Ride Leader with North Manchester Community Cycling Club

“Myself and Tony Cramp (Neighbourhood Housing Assistant, Cheetham Hill) realised there was no club situated near us, and so we opened a Community Cycle Club.

“Since then we’ve had Ride Leader training through Cycling UK and we have several leaders and assistant leaders who can take groups out. We are now based at the local community centre where we working under their umbrella – Communities for All.”

Mohammed, originally from Pakistan, continued: “I was a chainsmoker and my diet is not very healthy and I always kept going back to my habits. I had very little cycling experience - a bike ride on some rare occasions around 15 to 20 years ago.

“Since getting involved with cycling through Cycling UK and TfGM I believe I’ve changed a lot. I feel energetic and light on my feet. I have gained stamina, have lost weight and become fitter. Emotionally, I feel happier and confident.

“I am also proud of my commitment and achievement as Assistant Ride Leader and will hopefully take the club to bigger and better things. The plan is to get the community in North Manchester to be a part of it.

“As a whole, I have made more friends and my social group has expanded. I have also rekindled relationships with former friends. As a result of North Manchester Community Cycling Club, I am more known in the community and regularly get asked about the club.

“My son has recently joined me on a ride around the area and this has allowed me to spend more time with him.

“I’ve stopped smoking and I’m spending money on my children and have saved money for a holiday. I feel a sense of achievement and find it therapeutic. 

“I’m really glad I decided to get on my bike. Cycling is a great workout for the body, the mind and the senses – it’s a triple win situation!”