This month I have asked my wife Janine to share her memories and experiences and also tell you about her forthcoming cycle challenge to Malawi.
You have read about Richard’s twenty five year career in the cycling industry…well double that and add a few years and you get mine. I have DNA which includes cycle grease. I could ride before I could walk and was the first female to qualify as a mechanic at the Raleigh factory in Nottingham.
My father also owned a bike shop and early memories include running and hiding between the disorganised piles of bikes my dad collected and sold from an unheated terraced building just outside Nottingham. I spent a large amount of time at this venue sorting out screws, chains, inner tubes and brake pads.
During my teenage years I jealously saw girlfriends obtain Saturday jobs in trendy fashion stores such as Etam and Miss Selfridges while I froze in my fathers shop, developing huge upper body muscles from lifting bikes and chill blains on my rough hands as I sold his endless stock.
Friends still recall how en route to a party or disco on a Saturday night we would be crammed in the delivery vehicle between bikes, which had been sold during the day. Prior to Christmas these deliveries took up more time than the disco we wanted to attend, while customers joked about the three or four scantily clad heavily perfumed young women who would turn up on their doorstep in high heels to deliver their purchase.
Looking back those days seem romantic, but at that time I could not wait to leave this environment and didn’t cycle much until we opened our shop in Crossgates.
A few years ago a friend of mine asked me to go cycling with her, so I got back on the bike. In the 1970s Raleigh had an advertisement, which read: “One free person with every bike” within minutes of getting back in the saddle I was hooked and those words became my moto.
We tend to think of the recent cycling trend as a middle aged man’s passion. I can tell you it is great for us females as well, as long as you go at your own pace and don’t try to keep up with those Lycra clad competitive males we see sprinting along the highways.
Cycling is fun whatever your age and sex. In returning to my roots what I found interesting is how the merchandise has changed and developed. It’s not only lighter bikes and padded seats and shorts, which make cycling more appealing. There are also ointments and creams similar to thick moisturizers to ensure the tender spots don’t get damaged. Who knew? We have them all for sale at The Bike Shop.
Easy cycling trips around the villages with my kids soon developed to longer excursions, better bikes and a few events with girlfriends. Now I am a women possessed with a love of cycling. No easy ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ for me! Now I am in training to complete a 375km six-day challenge in Malawi, in support of the “Open Arms” charity. Eighteen of us will be riding for the Open Arms Challenge raising funds for this charity in September.
If you would like to help the orphans in Malawi, please search for Janine Crawford on
Justgiving.com, or collect a leaflet from
The Bike Shop.