Khadijah started cycling when she was 5, having taught herself in the living room while the room was being redecorated! A fair weather cyclist for many years, cycling in the summer with friends and family, she began organising a couple of rides back in the summer of 2004 for Muslim women. Having got married, she would go cycling with her husband, and then the children. The past years are filled with memories of cycling around the countryside on hot summers’ days, with a bike seat and/or trailer accompanying them to bring the kids along, stopping at cafes for a hot drink and cake or just finding somewhere in the middle of nowhere to have a picnic.
"I love cycling because I feel free on my bike and I can forget all my worries and the stresses of day to day life." Khadijah told Cycling UK. "I love the opportunities that cycling has opened up for me, giving me a chance to get back to work after a career break while I had children, to be involved in some amazing projects, and to meet some amazing and inspirational people."
I love the opportunities that cycling has opened up for me, giving me a chance to get back to work after a career break while I had children, to be involved in some amazing projects, and to meet some amazing and inspirational people.
When Khadijah moved to Waltham Forest in 2017 she decided to commute by bike. Her previous experience commuting by bike was during her university days in the cycling friendly city of Oxford, but she had been put off by the London traffic. It wasn't until Waltham Forest started becoming more and more cycling friendly, that she made the move back on to two wheels, as she really wanted to give cycling another try! Khadijah joined local cycling clubs Cycle Sisters, and then Joyriders, and soon got involved in helping out with rides. At the same time she participated in a local competition on behalf of her children’s school: "The Beat the Street" competition which was designed to get people to be more active. Needless to say, within a couple of months she was suddenly cycling everywhere, all the time!
As a Ride Leader with both Cycle Sisters and Joyriders, Khadijah helps coordinate and organise the rides. She is now also a Trustee of Cycle Sisters, which involves helping with the strategic development of the group as it expands into new areas.
Her training as a National Standards Instructor means she can teach Bikeability courses / learn to ride courses for people of all ages, something Khadijah puts in to practice as she encourages people in her local community who might not consider getting on a bike without encouragement. Khadijah is often stopped on the school run while on her bike (with trailer) by someone who wants to know more about how to get started!
"Having had various jobs in my life from working for the local council, inspecting healthcare services, to charity fundraising nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing someone ride a bike for the first time," says Khadijah. "I never thought when I was five years old riding around my living room quite how much cycling was going to form part of my life; it's been an amazing ride!"
It's clear Khadijah is an important and inspirational figure in her local cycling community, as the person who nominated her said, "Khadijah is a very inspiring cycling role model for Muslim women from diverse backgrounds. She wears full-length Islamic dress and headscarf and she is a visible example that you don't need to compromise your values or beliefs to be able to ride a bike.
"Khadijah has inspired many other Muslim women to overcome concerns around clothing and other cultural barriers to give cycling a try. She has gone on to train as a ride leader and leads rides for two women's groups in Waltham Forest - Cycle Sisters and JoyRiders. In addition she has trained as an instructor and has been influential in recruiting children and parents at a local Islamic school to do cycle training and join the led rides.
"She has started a blog to promote cycling and support people with getting started – covering information on what bike to buy and how to use route planning apps, as well as a very inspiring post with tips on how to cycle while wearing modest Islamic clothing!"
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.