Learning to ride a bike at 68!

Jan Williamson is a shining example of everything we stand for at Move More Jersey.

She loves being active outdoors as regularly as possible, takes part in charity walking events and is never afraid to try something new. She is a member of The Bluetits sea swimming group and has developed a new love for sea swimming since taking part in the 30 Bays in 30 Days challenge last summer.  

But there was one thing that was a constant sticking point in Jan’s life: she’d never learnt to ride a bike.  

She figured that she’d always be a ‘social outcast’ who couldn’t master this one simple skill and resigned herself to the fact that she wouldn’t be joining in cycling trips around Jersey with friends. 

Two years ago, Jan was devastated when she lost her husband and her mother within the short space of seven months. Still feeling raw, but realising she needed distractions and new challenges to help overcome the grief and sadness, Jan knew that now was the time to take action and do something just for her.

In the past, well-meaning friends had tried to help Jan learn to ride a bike, but she always felt scared about falling off and just couldn’t master riding, despite a strong sense of balance from years of dance training. She also carried with her some emotional fears from childhood, having been told that as she’d outgrown her toddler’s tricycle, a bicycle was simply too dangerous on the streets of London

Led by Jersey Sport’s Cycle Training officer, Laura Riley, Jan found herself in the company of other people who shared the same fears, worries and physical difficulties in riding a bike.  

“It was so lovely to meet other people just like me. The course took us through everything in baby steps, starting with how to correctly fit your helmet and checking tyres, brakes and chain before starting to ride. Laura and her team were so lovelyI never felt stupid or left behind.” 

The course ran over three weekends during autumn 2020 and since then Jan has been practising her cycling skills in the underground car park at her home. While she’s still working on balance for arm signalling, and isn’t ready to tackle the roads just yet, she’s so incredibly proud of herself for having come so far and learnt a new skill at 68!  

“I can even cycle round in a circle which I never thought I’d be able to do!” 

Jan’s goals for this year include meeting up with a lady she met on the Learn to Ride course to practice their new skills together, and to work up to riding along the Esplanade and the cycle track. She would also love to join in the easy rides with HSBC Breeze Jersey once she’s gained a little more skill and confidence.  

If you’ve been inspired by Jan’s story and would like to find out more about our Learn to Ride sessions, please sign up to our monthly newsletter and follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more details.  

Please note: due to the current Government of Jersey guidelines regarding group activity, it is unlikely Learn to Ride will restart before April 2021.

Get moving!

Follow the links below for more information:

HSBC Breeze Jersey and Guided Rides 

Cycle more this winter – health benefits and practical tips

Claire’s story – The breeze journey of one (initially) very reluctant cyclist!