After two decades off a bike, Sam is pedalling forward thanks to the Big Bike Revival
“The Big Bike Revival is a really good effort from ELREC and Cycling UK. It’s really making a difference to people like me who want to get out and be active.” These are positive words from Sam Bhalla, a participant of the Big Bike Revival in 2017 and regular attendee with the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC). She took part in Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival this summer and is keen to share her story, partly because she hasn’t been on a bike for more than 20 years.
The Big Bike Revival is a project working across Scotland that has partnered up with grassroots community groups to offer cycling activities and sessions, with a particular focus on new or returning cyclists. Sam is a returning rider with limited access to a bike but the Big Bike Revival activities have helped on her cycling journey: “I don’t have a cycle at the moment, but I am really enjoying the cycling activities and really look forward to the events with ELREC,” Sam says. “ELREC has bikes for us to use, and we can choose the right bike that suits us. Although I don’t have a bike just now, I am thinking about getting my own.”
In May and June, ELREC ran a range of led rides across Edinburgh as part of their Big Bike Revival events and activities, which Sam attended. The rides aimed to showcase the low-traffic and off-road routes around the city, making it easier and more accessible for people to use a bike to get from A to B, especially novice riders.
“I used to cycle when I went to school, but it’s been well over 20 years. I want to keep up cycling, and would love to be more active, get around by bike and explore more places. I’m also keen to cycle further distances!”
Sam, Big Bike Revival Scotland participant
“We did a ride to Cramond, which was about 16km up and down,” Sam says. “We also went to the Scottish arts museum which is 10km up and down. I enjoyed the rides because you get to explore the city and see the gorgeous scenery as well as getting to work out and keep fit.”
Sam also found the sociable aspect of the cycling activities to be a big bonus, getting to spend quality time with her nine-year-old son. “I cycle with my son, although he’s still a bit hesitant I take him as I know it’s very beneficial and I want him to take up a healthy lifestyle,” Sam explains. “He’s still getting used to cycling, but once he gets into it he enjoys it, too. When we went out with ELREC and the Big Bike Revival, the whole group went for a picnic on the bikes, sat together and had fun. We had a really nice time.”
These benefits have been a real push for Sam’s cycling. Before she got involved with ELREC and the Big Bike Revival, the last time she had been on a bike was two decades ago. “I used to cycle when I went to school, but it’s been well over 20 years. I want to keep up cycling, and would love to be more active, get around by bike and explore more places. I’m also keen to cycle further distances!”
When the time is right for her, Sam would also like to cycle to work because it would help to keep her fit and healthy. “I’m not working at the moment as I am on a career break, but I am into fitness and if I was working I would want to ride to work, now that I am cycling again. You can burn so many calories riding your bike, and that really appeals to me.”