Bike hire scheme – Sharon’s story

At the end of last year, you may remember we started a bike hire scheme. We bought two bikes and began hiring them out to Health Trainer clients who wanted to give cycling a go.

Cycling is a great way of getting exercise without costing the earth and it’s a good alternative to jogging or walking. It’s not always easy to get started, but our bike hire scheme is a great introduction.

Now that the weather has picked up, we are starting to see more and more people taking advantage of the scheme. One of those people is Sharon, who borrowed a bike during UK Bike Week at the end of June.

Here is Sharon’s story, in her own words:

I want to ride my bicycle

By Sharon McGarel, Gateway client

Sharon McGarelHave you ever heard of those far-off beauty spots that haven’t been discovered by tourists? Only problem is, everyone’s read the same article, so by the time you phone up, it’s fully booked. Well, I’m glad to say the same wasn’t true of the bike hire scheme offered by Gateway Family Services.

It’s been 17 years since I last rode a bike, but I have been considering buying one for a couple of months now. Each time, I drift away to the classic cycling scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; I feel the sun on my face as I ride along in a summer haze. Quickly I’m brought back with a bump to the last time I rode a bike, when I hit a pot hole and went face first over the handle bars of my bike, on Longbridge traffic island with an articulated lorry behind me. Ouch!

Bike maintenanceThe thing is, I do love a challenge and my health trainer told me that I can hire a bicycle for free – yes, free! So with UK cycling week between 15 and 23 June 2013, what better time to hire one of the two bicycles available (by the way, did I mention it’s free)? And included in the hire is a helmet, puncture repair kit and pump, too – not bad, and a few less barriers to giving it a go.

After a few laps of the car park at Gateway Family Services, a few crash-landings on the cross bar and a close encounter with a bush, I look a little less like bambi and head off intrepidly towards the public roads and pathways of Birmingham. As the scheme is still fairly undiscovered, I was able to keep the bike for a whole week, which meant I could build my confidence and stamina a little each day.
[Editor’s note: most people borrow the bikes for a weekend, but if there isn’t a waiting list when you ask, there’s nothing to stop you borrowing them for a week!]

Practice ride round the gardenTwelve months ago, I was a fully paid up member of the no self-esteem club and even sitting in the garden made me tired and sad, for the want of a better word. No matter how warm it was, I wore a big woolly jumper to keep the fresh air at bay, and the thought of exercise induced sleep.

But this last week I’ve been cycling in parks, going really fast up and down the road as if I were 10 years old and discovering loads of information about group rides, from “easy” to “oh my, that is a challenge”.

I recently saw a bumper sticker on a social network page that read, “I don’t cycle to add years to my life, I cycle to add life to my years”. I couldn’t agree more and can’t wait to buy my own bike, learn how to maintain it, understand gear sets and just get out there and experience some of the life I’ve spent years missing out on.

We spoke with Sharon at the Gateway party and she told us a bit more about her new passion:

And, as if this wasn’t enough of a happy ending, Sharon contacted us again this week to tell us there’s a sequel to her story:

Sharon's new bikeI have a neighbour who I help by mowing his lawn and just keeping an eye on him, dropping things in he needs and bake him the odd cake etc. He texted me yesterday to see if I could help him with something he needed doing. I dropped over today to help him, only to find he had a surprise for me.

Knowing I was interested in getting a bike and having been into building and maintaining bikes as a youngster, he has been looking about for me. He had seen a pre-loved bike yesterday, got it delivered and refused to let me pay him for it. So that’s about five years of lawn mowing I owe him now.

So did the bike hire scheme inspire me to get a bike? Oh yes it did – and what a glorious day for cycling!

We’re so pleased to hear stories like this – it just shows: good things can make other good things happen!

If you feel inspired to get pedalling and you’d like to hire one of our bikes, just ask your Health Trainer. You too could be “adding life to your years”!

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