Maryam has been cycling for as long as she can remember. She said, "learning to ride a two-wheeler is one of my fondest childhood memories."
Growing up in East London she would cycle with friends at the Lee Valley Eastway Cycle Circuit, which is now part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
But as an adult, Maryam didn't cycle as much, only occasionally riding her children's bikes in the local park or cycling on family holidays.
But in 2010 Maryam was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. She also worried about her youngest daughter who spent much of her time sitting indoors on her PlayStation.
It was the kick she needed. "So that was it, I got myself a bike and together we began riding and exploring our local surroundings – a whole new experience on two wheels!"
So that was it, I got myself a bike and together we began riding and exploring our local surroundings – a whole new experience on two wheels!
During this time Maryam noticed that very few women were riding bikes. Feeling conspicuous wearing a hijab, the stares she got from people in her community often resulted in her returning home in tears.
But with the support and encouragement of her husband she continued to ride.
Maryam said: "Not being able to identify with any other women cycling in my area was becoming a barrier to me cycling. I desperately wanted to ride with other women, so my husband suggested I contact the local council to enquire of any cycling groups that I could join."
Eventually she made contact with Elizabeth Barner from CTC (now Cycling UK). Elizabeth supported and helped train Maryam as a cycling instructor so she could help other women.
"Since then I’ve been on an incredible journey and I'm still doing amazing things to help people get out and ride.
"One of the most amazing things I’ve done is taking part in the London 2012 Opening Ceremony as a cycling dove, which was an incredible experience. Not only was I excited to have been selected, but I was also going home to the place where I grew up, so just to be involved meant so much to me."
Since then I’ve been on an incredible journey and I'm still doing amazing things to help people get out and ride.
Since training as a National Standards Bikeability Instructor Maryam has volunteered at ‘Groundwork Leicester and Leicestershire’ to assist delivery of Bikeability to children and cycle training to women from mostly BAME communities.
"From this experience I learnt that many women wished to cycle but lacked the confidence and support to do so. I went on to deliver cycle training for adults being run by the local council, and Bikeability in schools." Maryam said.
Then in May 2011, Maryam trained as a HSBC UK Breeze Champion with British Cycling, and then together with some of the good friends she'd made there, set up Leicester Women’s Velo cycling club in 2014.
One of the most amazing things I’ve done is taking part in the London 2012 Opening Ceremony as a cycling dove, which was an incredible experience.
Maryam said: "I am always hugely inspired by every woman I train. I go home feeling happy that I’m part of that change and contributing towards making healthier lifestyle choices.
"Sometimes I get stopped by Asian women saying how they’d like to ride a bike, I’ve had thumbs up from Asian lads, and I hear children tell their parents they want a bike. I think we are doing more than inspiring women to ride; we’re having a positive effect on the communities in which we live."
"I grew up shy and lacked self-esteem, but when I’m on the bike I feel super confident like some kind of superhero. I might not have the breeze through my hair but so what, the feeling is still exhilarating!
"I almost forgot to mention that I’m a grandma and have just started my two year old granddaughter on a balance bike – this summer is going to be super fun."
I think we are doing more than inspiring women to ride; we’re having a positive effect on the communities in which we live
Maryam's many achievements
Maryam's cycling achievements are almost too many to mention but we have tried to list them all here.
- Worked as a Schools Cycling Officer for 3 ½ years, encouraging and supporting children to cycle to school to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution
- Works on cycling projects to help more women learn to ride and lead bike rides for them
- Volunteers for Leicester Wheels for All, supporting people with special needs to try adapted bikes to improve their physical and mental wellbeing
- Winner of the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Award’s “Unsung Hero” award (2015)
- Winner of British Cycling’s “Local Cycling Heroes” award for the Midlands Region (2013)
- Winner of the “Club of the Year” - Women Today (2013)
- Dove Cyclist at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony (2012)
- Volunteer Breeze Champion Ride Leader for British Cycling
- Winner of “Volunteer of the Year” award at Wembley Stadium hosted by the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation (2012).
Unsurprisingly Maryam was nominated by several of the people she's helped, including Mozummal Mahmood who said: "Maryam has been at the forefront of getting more women from disadvantaged backgrounds to get into cycling. Particularly in the south Asian community. I hope to follow in her footsteps, training complete beginners to cycle and hope I can get more women in Peterborough to cycle, just as Maryam has done in Leicester."
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.