Cycle confidence course enables Andrena to cycle for everyday journeys

Andrena cycling
After a Big Bike Revival skills course, Andrena is cycling for everyday journeys
Andrena Massie hadn’t been on a bike for over a decade, but after losing over five stone in weight and getting a bike for her 40th birthday, she felt ready to try cycling again.

With support from local cycling group Belles on Bikes Falkirk and a course of women’s 'Learn then ride' sessions funded through the Big Bike Revival, Andrena now cycles for everyday journeys. 

“I went along to the course and it was fantastic,” says Andrena. “Kat the trainer was amazing. She was so confident on her bike – it’s like it’s part of her! She taught me how to start and stop my bike; it made such a difference to me.”

Andrena also learned about road positioning. “Kat was so comfortable telling me about not being timid. Get out into the middle of the lane. I had thought to make myself as small as possible when I should be as big as possible to make myself safe on the road.”

With her new skills and improved confidence, Andrena was keen to do more cycling and not long after she completed the course her car broke down. “My car’s suspension springs went, and I had to get to work, to the gym. I thought, I have my bike, I’ve been on this Big Bike Revival course and I can do this.”

Andrena started to use her bike to get from A to B. “I cycled to work and I also went to the gym by bike,” she says. “I cycled to my class and then cycled home. I was so proud of myself - I haven't let this not having a car interfere with my life. I've taken control, I've trusted myself, and I've used my skills and my bike. I was delighted. I wouldn’t have the confidence without that course.” 

"You feel green and these are journeys that would be doable because they are local - it won't take that much longer by bike once you factor in having to park.”

Even with the car fixed, Andrena takes the bike for other everyday trips. “My husband had the car and my brother phoned and said come and visit my niece,” she explains. “He lives about 5km away. I cycled to their house and spent the afternoon with my little niece. I was so happy and proud of myself that I could get there without having my car.”

The bike has been retired over winter, but for a new rider this is not uncommon. With spring weather, she’ll be cycling again. “I will absolutely use it for the gym, my work, my family. These are all local journeys. You can even put a backpack on your back and even pick up a few bits of shopping on your travels like bread and milk.”

To help her take everyday trips by bike, Andrena would love to see more cycle-friendly paths and routes in her local community. “From an economy point of view, if I could use my bike a bit more you save fuel, it's better for the environment, you feel green and these are journeys that would be doable because they are local - it won't take that much longer by bike once you factor in having to park.”

Andrena is also very supportive of local cycle groups like Belles on Bikes Falkirk. She found the group's leaders to be friendly and helpful, and they welcomed her along to the course to help build her confidence. "I would say to anyone thinking about starting on a bike to have a look out for local cycle groups. If you go out with folk like Belles on Bikes Falkirk, they keep you right and can help with things like punctures. It really makes a difference."

She is looking forward to more trips on two wheels. “I love being on my bike,” she says. “I love feeling the speed. You feel you've put in the effort and you're in control. It's a sense of freedom and empowerment that you can get about. It makes me feel happy.”