Atchara got into cycling to escape the grind of the daily commute. She then became a Bikeability instructor and, after recognising that it wasn’t only the children but some of the mums who wanted to cycle more, she set up a Community Cycling Group to empower women and to share her passion for cycling.
Atchara Khonglim said…
“I’ve been involved with cycling in Greater Manchester for many years, but my passion for cycling started over 15 years ago when living in London and I started riding there – initially to escape the grind of the daily commute.
“I was petrified the first time I cycled on the road but the thought of going back to travelling on the London Underground spurred me on to become a better cyclist. I planned my routes ahead of time, carried essentials and spares just in case, and learnt how to fix a puncture on a side road. I also did various bike maintenance courses to improve my knowledge and build my confidence as a cyclist.
The perks of cycling weren’t then just about saving money on travelling – it was the freedom it gave me, as well as the benefits to my mental health and wellbeing.
“The perks of cycling weren’t then just about saving money on travelling – it was the freedom it gave me, as well as the benefits to my mental health and wellbeing. I stopped fretting about being late for work and just by being outside and taking in my surroundings, it helped clear my headspace and put things into perspective. And I loved the sense of empowerment of arriving at my destination under my own steam!
“Over the past year, having qualified as a National Standard cycling Instructor, I have been working for Bikeability in primary schools across Tameside, Greater Manchester. I love my work as a Bikeability instructor: the satisfaction from teaching children cycle safety is so rewarding – and the amazing thing is, they don’t even mind when it’s raining!
“Also, having been involved in cycling in Whalley Range and around south Manchester where there is a well-established cycling community, I found there was a need for something for women cyclists in and around Ashton-under-Lyne, which is why I was motivated to set up Tameside Women’s Community Cycling Group (TWCCG).
“TWCCG caters for women of all ages and for those from under-represented groups. Its main aim is to give women confidence cycling on the road and the skills needed to fix their own bikes – all by female bike mechanics and instructors.
“Before the coronavirus outbreak I was delighted to have passed my Ride Leader training, through the Breeze network, but while plans for TWCCG have been put on hold, the group has been keeping in touch during the lockdown using video calls and social media and encouraging cycling as daily exercise.
“However, when it is safe to do so and people feel comfortable meeting up again, I am looking forward to TWCCG resuming and leading my first social ride as a Breeze Champion – and making plenty of new cycling friends along the way.
The support I’m receiving from Cycling UK, British Cycling and TfGM is fantastic. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity and I only hope I can encourage more women in Tameside to start riding their bikes!
“The support I’m receiving from Cycling UK, British Cycling and TfGM is fantastic. I feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity and I only hope I can encourage more women in Tameside to start riding their bikes!”
Atchara was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by Cycling UK community development officer Ellen Holmes:
“Atchara is incredibly passionate about cycling and the difference it can make to people’s lives.
“She has been working in the cycling industry for a few years as a trained Bikeability instructor, and recently decided to use her skills to give something back to the community and to set up the TWCCG as a volunteer.
“Although the group is in its very early stages, Atchara's enthusiasm and vision to make the group a success is inspiring.
“The idea started after Atchara met mums and female carers watching Bikeability sessions in schools and expressing that they would love to give cycling a go themselves.
She recognised that there were a lot of women within her local community who wanted to cycle more, but either didn't feel confident doing so or had never learnt to ride, so she decided to set up Tameside Women's Community Cycling Group to empower these women and to share her passion for cycling
“She recognised that there were a lot of women within her local community who wanted to cycle more, but either didn't feel confident doing so or had never learned to ride, so she decided to set up TWCCG to empower these women and to share her passion for cycling.
“The group aims to teach women to ride in a safe traffic-free environment, then to gradually build up their confidence to go on longer rides on local roads, to empower these women to make short trips by bike or go on regular social rides.
“Atchara has been incredibly driven in setting the group up, holding a full schedule of meetings to engage key stakeholders in the project and now has the support of Cycling UK, British Cycling, Transport for Greater Manchester and Active Tameside.
“She recently also trained as a Breeze Champion and is looking forward to getting more women's rides going in her area once the Covid-19 restrictions have died down."