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Defying age, these Kerala women are learning cycling to cherish missed childhood dream

Women learning cycling at Fort Kochi in Kerala. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

For many, learning to ride a bicycle is a cherished childhood milestone but life’s circumstances might prevent many from accomplishing it at their young age. But 68-year-old Prema Bhaskaran of Fort Kochi in Kerala is not ready to give up her desire to learn cycling which she missed in her young age. Despite age-related frailties, she fulfilled her dream of learning to cycle and is now encouraging other aged women who have missed their chance to learn cycling in their young age to master it.

It’s not Prema alone, many women like her in Kerala are rediscovering their passion for cycling defying their physical frailties. They have all embarked on an inspiring journey beaming with joy and a sense of accomplishment.

“Many of my friends during my school days used to ride bicycles. But I didn’t learn because I was very scared. In the due course, I gave up my desire to learn cycling. But I recently noticed many people including women cycling while going for regular morning walks. I saw a group of women at Pallathu Raman ground where they were being trained to ride a bicycle. Despite having joint pains in my knees, I decided to give it a try,” Prema told “Open Digest“.

Though she was scared initially, the trainers gave her the confidence to overcome it. “I was scared in the beginning but right guidance and motivation by the instructors helped me to overcome my fear. Now, I am very confident and go cycling every day,” added Prema, who works as a house-help.

Like Prema, 52-year-old Sunitha Gafoor of Fort Kochi also overcame her fear and inhibitions to learn cycling. Sunitha says, “In my childhood, I didn’t get an opportunity to learn cycling though I wanted to. It was my husband who, after seeing the women getting training to learn cycling, told me to give it a try. I never had the confidence to learn cycling but within a few days of training, I mastered it. Cycling has improved my health as well.”

This homemaker has made cycling a part of her life and she says, “It gives me immense joy when I take my cycle and ride through the beach every day.  I have also encouraged my sister to learn cycling and she will be starting her training soon.”

More than 406 women in the state which include homemakers and working professionals have learnt cycling as part of SheCycling, a nationwide cycle literacy campaign of BYCS India Foundation. The campaign which is being held across the state is being led by Prakash P Gopinath, founder of the Indus Cycling Embassy (ICE) and Zeenath M A, secretary of ICE Sheroes, Kochi who have been selected by the foundation to train the women and promote cycling.

Zeenath says “ Currently, we are conducting training sessions every day for one hour during the morning and evening at Pallathu Raman ground. For the programme, we have 13 bicycles. Over 275 women in Fort Kochi have already been trained to ride a bicycle. More enquiries are coming and we are happy to train these women.”

Not just homemakers, government employees are also trying their hand in cycling. Sheeba Lal, Welfare Standing Committee chairperson, Kochi Corporation also learned cycling through the initiative. “ It’s been four months since I learned how to cycle. Every woman should learn cycling,” shares 58 year-old Sheeba.

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