#100BahrainStories

#24

“When I was a teenager, I went on holidays to Victoria, Canada with my family and my brother and I cycled around town. It was the first time I saw how cyclists could be respected on the roads.

On my twenty-second birthday, my friends gifted me a very basic bike. It was such a thoughtful gift and it offered me the chance to simply get on a bike and begin cycling. I soon realised that I loved cycling so much that I needed something sturdier, so I went to the Skate Shack and spent almost a month’s salary on a new bike. They told me I was the first girl to walk into their shop! Who would have known then that they would go on to become my main sponsor in competitive cycling!

At first I rode around Awali and Zallaq with expat friends. Although I have an open-minded Bahraini family, cycling is not seen as a typical hobby for females and out of respect, I was careful about where I cycled and who I cycled with. Somehow, cycling with expats was more acceptable. Things changed however, when those friends moved away and I didn’t have anyone left on the Island to ride with. One day, I was at the bike shop and I met a couple of Bahraini boys who rode competitively. I decided to join them and slowly, I began competing in (and often winning) duathlons and triathlons. I also went to Dubai for my first race outside of Bahrain. My family supported me. I wouldn’t have done it without their support.

In 2014, Qatar’s charity cycling team (Qatar Sandstormers) approached me about joining them for a charity ride from Budapest to Munich. I joined their team and was one of only three women in a group of twenty. It was a tough ride and many people withdrew halfway through. I was one of only three competitors in our team to make it all the way to Munich.

During that long ride I thought about what I missed from home and that’s when I made the decision to marry my husband, Abdulla. He and I had met when I would regularly pop into his restaurant in Budaiya for my post-training protein. We got married soon after I returned home and last year became parents to a little girl, Zora. I cycled throughout my pregnancy and following my delivery. I’m happy that my in-laws also support my cycling.

I have recently qualified as a cycling coach, having completed my certification through British Cycling in the UK. I believe I am the first accredited Bahraini female cycling coach on the Island. I have now started ‘Cycling Bees’ a group which supports female cyclists gain confidence and develop their technique with riding. I am also teaching cycling skills and safety or ‘bikeability’ courses for women and children, and I love doing this. My motto is, “If you can walk, you can ride!”

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