It’s all about the Joy of cycling … literally!

Edgbaston Reservoir Ladies love their cycling - come rain or shine

It’s all about the Joy of cycling … literally!

Joy Anibaba hasn’t looked back since getting into cycling in a big way – and now she’s helping others do the same.

Joy, who lives in Olton in the West Midlands, has been a key figure in the growth of the Edgbaston Reservoir Ladies cycling group, which has now become a Cycling UK Community Cycle Club.

The 51-year-old has found cycling to be a real life-changer and considers getting out into the fresh air on two wheels a great stress reliever, not to mention good for her physical health. Joy is diabetic and has high blood pressure, but cycling regularly has helped her lose weight.

She never learnt to ride as a child – the emphasis in the family was on education and there was no push to exercise. She did join a gym but never really got into it.

About 10 years ago, Joy and a friend decided they wanted to learn to ride a bike. She had a few lessons and attended a session run by Sandwell Council for a while. Then about four years ago they took part in some sessions at Ward End Park.

She knew a lady at the council called Fareeda Aktar, who set up Women on Wheels, and for a while they were meeting regularly, with the group also targeting local women to become ride leaders so they could take others out, too. 

As she works for Birmingham City Council, Joy heard about Big Birmingham Bikes and the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, and she and Fareeda became key figures helping with the group at Edgbaston Reservoir – where one of the BBB hubs is situated.

Big Birmingham Bikes provide a programme of free bikes, cycle training, and activities with employers, schools and communities to encourage cycling, as part of the Birmingham Cycle Revolution project.

Coming to the group doesn’t feel like exercise and it’s great to find something that is so much fun. Being outside in the fresh air in all weathers is exhilarating. It also helps your mental health and wellbeing, and is a great reliever of stress.

Joy Anibaba, Edgbaston Reservoir Ladies

Cycling UK is working with BCR/BBB to help get people cycling in Birmingham, and providing groups like Edgbaston Reservoir Ladies with the resources and opportunity to stand on their own two feet. Part of that support is setting out a plan for the future as a Community Cycle Club affiliated to the national cycling charity.

Organised rides were started at Edgbaston Reservoir as Joy and Fareeda were able to lead, with the Saturday group attracting more women, and even some men on occasion.

Joy has now been involved in the Edgbaston group since July 2015 and is a keyholder for the hub at the reservoir. The group initially attracted about five women and has now grown to attract 25-30 people.

Participants would be sent to Bike Right to get their Level 1 and 2 training, and would then be able to come out with the reservoir on led rides. Joy and two other women in the group became Ride Leader-trained in October 2015.

Exhilarating

Joy said: “Coming to the group doesn’t feel like exercise and it’s great to find something that is so much fun. Being outside in the fresh air in all weathers is exhilarating. It also helps your mental health and wellbeing and is a great reliever of stress.”

She added: “The women in the group are very supportive and it creates a really nice atmosphere. Ideally, it would be great to get more of the current group trained as ride leaders, and also attract new volunteers and members to the group.”

The Edgbaston Reservoir group has grown to the extent that it now needs more volunteers to help out with the led rides. Joy would also really like to do a new route for the ladies on a Saturday and someone she knows has offered to help her do this. So she can go on a ‘recce’ with someone more confident than herself.

Vanessa Morris, Cycling UK’s Community Clubs Development Officer in Birmingham, said: “The Edgbaston Reservoir Ladies are a great group – so friendly and supportive of each other. I hope Joy’s story inspires others to discover the gift of cycling and share its endless benefits to your health, wellbeing, the economy and the environment.”

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