Wearing a long loose dress and hijab, Seema Jadwet didn't think cycling was something she could do but after joining Cycle Sisters she realised the enormous benefits that cycling could bring her. Two years later she had bought her own bike, increased her confidence and encouraged her family and friends to join her. She's now leading rides, mentoring new ride leaders and coordinating rides for teens.
Seema Jadwet said…
“I learnt to ride as a child and really enjoyed cycling but stopped during my teens. University, work and kids meant that cycling was just a distant memory and when my kids learnt to ride, I missed not being able to join them.
“As a Muslim woman wearing a long loose dress and a hijab, I didn't think I could do it. Then I came across Cycle Sisters’ Facebook page and thought how lovely it would be to join a ladies only cycling group. I saw pictures of Muslim women wearing hijab and jilbabs and thought if they could do it, so could I.
I saw pictures of Muslim women wearing hijab and jilbabs and thought if they could do it, so could I
“So back in 2017, we went for our first ride on various borrowed bikes, it was a memorable experience that we will never forget. I remember walking up the hills and wondering if I would actually complete the ride, but I did it. The buzz we got after that ride was amazing and after that we were hooked!
“We would keep every Wednesday morning free so we wouldn’t miss a ride. I became a more confident cyclist and made many new friends - other women like me who hadn’t ridden for a long time but enjoyed cycling and wanted to do something for ourselves.
“After 18 months of borrowing a bike for the rides, I finally got my own bike and I became confident cycling independently on the roads, started cycling to work and most importantly recruited my husband, children, family and friends into cycling. I was then asked to train as one of the first ever Ride Leaders for our Walthamstow group in 2018, I was surprised that I was even considered for that role.
I’m now supporting and mentoring our newer Ride Leaders and have recently been elected to be the first Rides Officer with a fellow Ride Leader on the Walthamstow group committee
“Only a few years later, I’m now supporting and mentoring our newer Ride Leaders and have recently been elected to be the first Rides Officer with a fellow Ride Leader on the Walthamstow group committee.
“On top of all of this I was given the opportunity to co-ordinate rides for teenage Muslim girls as part of our Teen Bikers project and this has been a great success as our first two rides were fully booked. I’ve got two teenage girls myself so I know how important it is to offer suitable opportunities for young girls to be physically active.
“I’m now planning to train as a cycling instructor so I can help other women and girls enjoy the wonders of cycling. As you can see cycling is now a major part of my life - I never thought that my first ride in 2017 would change my life so much, what a journey it has been!”
“Seema is incredibly passionate about getting more Muslim women cycling and it has been a real privilege to watch her cycling journey over the last three years.
“She is very definitely an unsung hero with her quiet unassuming nature but unfaltering determination to inspire more women from her community in Walthamstow, East London to cycle.
“More recently she has used her cycling skills to participate in the local cycling volunteering project ‘Good Deeds on Bikes’ which involves collecting surplus food from local supermarkets on bikes and she is an incredibly reliable volunteer putting her cycling skills to good use in the community.
“Seema quietly and considerately does a huge amount and can always be relied upon to step forward to support at short notice, to find solutions to ensure our rides can always go ahead and make helpful and thoughtful suggestions that have enabled us to improve our services over the years.
“Seema has also taken on a more formal role within Cycle Sisters to develop and coordinate our new rides for teenage girls. ‘Teen Bikers’ is aimed at 13-17 year olds and offers led rides that aim to encourage girls from this age group, where activity levels are notoriously low, to enjoy safe and social bike rides in the company of their peers.
With two teenage girls at home she completely understands the target audience and the response to these rides has been overwhelming from within the local Muslim community…
“Seema has completely embraced the opportunity and spearheaded the development of these rides. With two teenage girls at home she completely understands the target audience and the response to these rides has been overwhelming from within the local Muslim community where she has spoken at local mosques and supplementary schools about the opportunity and importance.
“Seema has a deep commitment to opening up the opportunities cycling has given her to others particularly within the Muslim community. She absolutely loves cycling and it has been a pleasure to watch her develop this passion and grow both her cycling and personal confidence. She is an incredible role model to others within the Muslim community and an incredibly dedicated volunteer. Cycle Sisters would not be what it is today without her.”