What advice would you give to somebody who might be worried about trying cycling?
I would ask why are you scared? Because you can’t fight your fear if you don’t address what it is you’re scared of.
For complete beginners it may be fear of falling, getting hurt, embarrassment of not knowing how to ride. I’ve been through all of that in Victoria park, I learned to ride as an adult aged 20, so I understand the insecurities.
Transitioning to cleats is another thing that sparks fear but it’s all about practising and using the grass for soft and safe landings! I’d advise mentally preparing for fears by writing down the opposite of your anxiety. Writing affirmations for what you DO want rather than attracting your fears. For example, writing down I can confidently ride one-handed in traffic and signal my intended direction - can help to feel safe negotiating traffic, because you’ve already asserted yourself in your mind.
All of our fears are our viewpoint in our head, they’re not reality. Try to buddy up with someone to have reassurance whilst using cleats, so you know that you’re not doing it all alone. The internet can also be your best friend, so much support on social media, joining a cycling club, YouTube channels, there’s a lot of knowledge at your disposal.
Have you ever had to deal with injuries?
Haha yes I’ve crashed 3 times!
The first was in awful weather, pouring with rain and I was descending and the guy in front stupidly stopped and I couldn’t stop in time. It made me resent cycling, and dealing with a fractured wrist and my arm in a sling for 6 weeks, then in a splint, the added stress of all the personal care (showering one-handed) I didn’t really want to return to cycling.
I then returned to Dubai where I first tried a road bike, en route for a holiday in Thailand which reminded me I know how to ride still! I later bought my first bike (the previous bone was a loan from a charity) and persevered!
The week of my 30th birthday and the Rapha women’s 100 campaign I went to cycle with Emily Chappell in Bristol. When I was cycling back from Bath alone I was hit by a car. I’ve written some tips on an instagram (perhaps Laka can write a guide of things to do) to ensure you’re covered for the bike and kit, that you have access to lawyers and also think of having a dash cam, always call the police, paramedics and get the support you need.
Thirdly crashed on ice in the winter. I have heightened anxiety and the return to cycling was hard but I took on a coach to help me with my confidence and build up fighting my anxiety on the road. It’s also helped me to reassess my goals and ambitions in cycling.
What's your favourite thing about the cycling community?
You always have a friend, support and encouragement with whatever your dumb questions are. Group riding is great for riding fast and far!
What's your favourite place to ride?
Box hill summit is a massive favourite but hate wrestling the London traffic to get there! Richmond park is pretty special place for me and cycling to Cambridge mosque is a firm favourite.
What's your favourite pre and post ride meal?
Peanut butter and jam porridge with coffee but don’t really have time so it’s usually toast or whatever I can easily swallow in the morning! Samosas during! A lovely local kebab and chips post ride or my mums biryani/cooking!