Coming from an Indian family, cultural practices meant it was deemed "unsuitable" for a girl to be cycling. Shameem didn't ride until reintroduced to cycling by her late husband at 26 years old. Following her husband's passing, Shameem continued to run the family shop, A&S Cycles. She works with Salaam Peace organisation to encourage Muslim women to break the taboo and cycle.
Shameem Vesamia said…
"I first learnt to ride a tricycle at the age of four, moving onto a bicycle soon after. Coming from an Indian family, cultural practices meant it was deemed 'unsuitable' for a girl to be out on a bicycle. Respecting this, I rode until the age of eight.
He made me realise that riding a bike has no boundaries and is an enjoyment for everyone irrespective of gender, age, race or culture
"I was reintroduced to all aspects of cycling at the age of 26 by my late husband, Suleman 'Solly' Vesamia. He made me realise that riding a bike has no boundaries and is an enjoyment for everyone irrespective of gender, age, race or culture. His passion for cycling was infectious and he passed that on to myself and our three children.
"A&S Cycles has been running for over three decades now and following his passing in 2013, I have continued to run the store.
"To some of our customers, we are a shop where they can purchase cycling related goods, or have their bike serviced. To others we are more than that; we are a community hub.
"I use and channel the personal challenges I have faced to motivate and inspire women of all backgrounds to incorporate cycling into their lifestyle, and to recognise how cycling can open up opportunities and give strength in many forms.
"One of my roles within the community and organisations such as Salaam Peace, is to encourage Muslim women to break the Taboo and stereotype, and get cycling.
"I have built a strong bond with many of my regular and local customers, whereby a quick 'Hello, how are you?' on their way to a destination is often welcomed.
Solly taught me to about cycling and cycling taught me and my children to never to give up
"Solly taught me to about cycling and cycling taught me and my children to never to give up."
Shameem was nominated for the 100 Women in Cycling by her daughter Aisha Vesamia, who said:
"Becoming widowed with three young children my mum has worked against all odds most times seven days a week to save the community ethos of my father and the love of the shop from locals.
"She broke down barriers, being female in the industry and of a Muslim background, culture and traditions were real barriers my mum faced alongside grieving.
"She has tirelessly worked to promote more women into cycling, from all backgrounds, beginners to more able cyclist.
She is kind and generous often doing repairs and services for free when customers cannot afford it
"She is kind and generous often doing repairs and services for free when customers cannot afford it.
"She works behind the scenes with salaam peace, a youth organisation and donated bikes to young people after they volunteer their time in the organisation improving their sports and social skills.
"She gives and donates to local charities and schools without wanting recognition or status.
"She loves the cycling community and most value the store as a local hub and a part of Hackney.
"Over three decades of trading my mum has stayed behind the scenes since my dad passed away and does nothing ask for anything on return for her kindness , generosity and compassion for people.
"She loves to engage young and old into cycling and encourages in particular the Muslim female cyclists as she understands the cultural taboos.
"I think she is is an amazing mother who has shown so much strength and courage and always puts everyone before herself."