Linda discovers her confidence learning to cycle at 70

Linda Billett (right) with husband Paul (centre) and Cycling UK's Andrew Thorpe
Linda Billett
Linda Billett
Christina Bengston's picture

Linda discovers her confidence learning to cycle at 70

70-year-old novice cyclist, Linda Billett, hasn't let a few tumbles stop her from getting out onto a bike this summer, thanks to the Big Bike Revival.

They’re the natural fears many people experience when they start or return to cycling.

Am I fit enough? Will I fall off? Will I be able to keep up in a group ride? 

But at 70, Linda Billett is living proof those fears shouldn’t stop you getting back in the saddle.

Linda recently joined the Newbiggin by the Sea Social Bike Ride organised by Creative Arts North East Community Cycle Club, as part of the Big Bike Revival.

“I was really nervous at the beginning, nervous to get on the bike," said Linda. "Once I met everyone and we talked about what we’d be doing I was instantly reassured. I thought ‘this is the group for me’ ”.

Once I met everyone and we talked about what we’d be doing I was instantly reassured.

Linda Billett

But after falling off her bike a few times and with her confidence taking a knock, Linda hasn’t let the set-back stop her cycling ambitions. 

Linda said: “My aim is to be a confident leisure rider. At the moment I’m still a pretty timid novice.”

When Linda picked up a bike for the very first time in May 2018 at the age of 69, she had the support of her husband Paul, who she said: “has been very supportive and patient in getting me going and encouraging me.

“And as a result [of teaching me], has restarted mountain biking himself once a week.”

Linda spent the past winter building up her cycling strength and stamina using a turbo trainer.

When she ventured out for the Big Bike Revival ride it was her first-time using cleats outside, the first time participating in a group ride and all this after only learning to ride the summer before. 

She was inspired to give cycling a go after becoming a keen follower of pro-cycling. 

“I’ve been following cycling since the 2012 Olympics. I wondered what it felt like to actually push the pedals. 

“On a visit to Newcastle I saw a few cyclists on the wide quayside cycleways and I thought how nice it would be able to ride somewhere like that.”

Linda Billett (right) with Susan from the community cycling club (centre), husband Paul and Andrew Thorpe

One of the biggest challenges Linda’s faced when starting out on her cycling journey was finding a suitable group to ride with. 

“I wanted to find beginner and easy group rides that would broaden my experience and help me gain confidence and discover new places that are good for a novice to ride," she said.

“The Newbiggin by the Sea Social ride was perfect. It was such a pleasant and confidence-building experience. I really appreciated how the ride leaders led the ride, looked after me and ensured I was never under pressure. 

“I took away a lot of positives about the ride - a lot of firsts (riding in a group, riding where there are people, speed bumps, bollards and even a bit of off-road) and my controlled stopping definitely improved.

“To be honest just knowing that it’s okay to get off and push if there is an awkward bit is great for stress reduction.”

Cycle Rides

The Newbiggin by the Sea ride is part of Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival which is all about overcoming the barriers that stop people from cycling and helping people feel more confident about cycling.

Looking for a group to ride with?

Search for your nearest local group

Big Bike Revival

Find out more about the Big Bike Revival

Find your local Big Bike Revival event

Be inspired 

Has Linda's story inspired you to start cycling? Find a local cycling group near you. 

Inspire others 

Let us know your cycling story and email 

Already go cycling? Get a non-cycling female you know out on a bike this July and take our pledge

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