Pedal power helps first-time cyclist raise £500

A 10k charity cycling challenge was anything but ‘just like riding a bike’ for a student hoping to raise money to fund a volunteering trip to Zambia.

Beth Henderson, 17, had never learnt to ride a bike but thanks to a free cycling course run by Northumberland County Council she was able to complete the challenge and raise £500 towards her trip.

Beth, from Cramlington, is currently studying for her A-levels and wants to become a doctor.

She said: “Learning to ride a bike was something that just passed me by as a little girl, I tried to learn but it wasn’t happening so I gave up and thought nothing more about it.

“When I heard about the charity ride I knew it was time I learnt so I enrolled on the Cycle Skills courses as a complete beginner.

“I was riding on my own within 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe it.”

Organised by Cycle Experience, part of the TTC Group, the sessions are running throughout the summer and are open to anyone who lives, works or studies in South East Northumberland.

There are four skill levels to choose from with training sessions ideal for beginners through to experienced cyclists tackling rush-hour rides.

Michael Halliday, 47, from Cramlington is leading the sessions and helped Beth learn to ride.

Michael said: “Beth didn’t have a huge amount of confidence when she first started but was determined to succeed. We worked with her to improve her balance, starting and stopping and she took to it incredibly quickly.

“We’re all incredibly proud of her and the work she’s doing and it just shows what can be done on our courses.”

So confident was Beth after the cycling course that she ended up cycling 15k instead of the 10k that was expected.

With her new found cycling skills Beth is planning on getting out on her bike more and cycling to school and work.

The £500 she raised will go towards funding a voluntary trip to Zambia where she will help teach school pupils English and build desperately needed sanitary facilities.

Beth said: “Without getting involved in the Cycle Skills sessions there is no way I would have been able to get on a bike and no way I would have been able to raise so much money.

“They were great fun and I learnt a lot, not just about cycling but about road safety and I would recommend them to anyone.”

The cycle sessions take place at the Sporting Club in Cramlington and last approximately two hours.

For more information and to book your session visit www.bit.ly/CycleSkillsNorthumberland.