When a friend of Gaye Key’s suggested she might like to take up cycling in her 50s, neither of them could imagine where it might lead – not least because at the time both of their navigational skills were somewhat haphazard!
However, one of the first steps they took to prevent getting lost was to join some local HSBC UK Breeze rides exploring Birmingham and the surrounding countryside. Within a year, Gaye and her friend had gone on a CTC cycling holiday to Jersey and she had done a 60-mile Breeze Challenge event.
Next came the opportunity to become a Breeze Champion herself and Gaye’s goal was to start a South Birmingham Breeze group. That was six years ago, and she’s not looked back since.
Gaye’s group of active ladies in South Birmingham now boasts six Breeze Champions who, between them, have led several hundred rides. They pride themselves on offering routes over varying days, times and distances so there is something for everyone.
A few of the group have also become part of the Big Birmingham Bikes programme, linking with other cycle groups to encourage their Breeze ladies to see what other opportunities there are awheel.
I love encouraging other women to have a go at exploring by bike.
Gaye said: “Cycling has transformed my life. It has given me an interest that has grown now that I am retired.
“I’ve met so many people and made lots of really good friends. For the last few years we’ve been on cycling holidays across Britain and at 60 I became a proper grown up and went on a cycling holiday on my own to Sri Lanka. It was amazing!
“I love encouraging other women to have a go at exploring by bike. Whatever your level of cycling ability, there are always new challenges: go that bit further or that bit faster. This year about 12 of us completed the 100-mile Birmingham and Midland Velo 100. How fantastic is that?!”
Gaye was nominated for 100 Women in Cycling by Esther Barnes, who said: “Gaye is a very active Breeeze Champion in South Birmingham who always goes the extra mile. If I hadn't met her and some of the other champs in the area I would not have become a volunteer for the scheme myself.
“Gaye has led more than 250 rides covering thousands of miles and encouraging lots of new riders to get involved with Breeze. Gaye not only does the Breeze volunteering but she also is a Sustrans volunteer helping where needed - last summer she worked on the NCN5.
"Gaye leads by example. She may not be the quickest rider but she never gives up and her sheer determination is a true inspiration. She is a wonderful woman who I am pleased to call a friend.”
What is 100 Women in Cycling?
Cycling UK’s 100 Women in Cycling is an annual list celebrating inspirational women who are encouraging others to cycle.