During lockdown, Laura searched for ways to get active with her young children. From having no confidence on a bike, to leading group rides for her local community bike hub, Laura’s story highlights the positive impact which getting active has had on both her and her family.
Laura's love of cycling has rubbed off on her children and she says her youngest child is obsessed with riding heir bike. ©Laura Osborne
It’s hard to beat the joys which come with getting out and about with your loved ones.
Whether that’s walking, wheeling or cycling to your favourite local nature spot, travelling to get a bite to eat together, or taking a leisurely trip along your nearest National Cycle Network route.
But not everyone has access to the resources they need to get active.
We spoke to Laura, who whilst on a mission to find ways to get active with her little ones in lockdown, discovered her local community bike hub.
And it changed their lives for the better.
We spoke to Laura, who whilst on a mission to find ways to get active with her little ones in lockdown, discovered her local community bike hub. ©Laura Osborne
Rediscovering cycling after almost 30 years
During the first national lockdown, Laura found herself cooped up inside with her three young children.
Prior to the Covid-19 restrictions, Laura was used to being regularly active as a Zumba instructor, but when lockdowns were announced across the country, her classes grinded to a halt. She recalled:
“I was so physically active before lockdown, then to be stuck in, just me and my kids and no help.
“My partner works away in the army, and during this time he was stuck in Cyprus with no way of getting back.
“I could feel my mental health plummeting.
“It wasn’t until I discovered cycling and then I got the endorphins going again.”
On her mission to find second-hand cycles online, Laura came across a local bike hub as a great place to find cheap, refurbished bikes. ©Laura Osborne
Community bike hub was Laura's light at the end of the tunnel
A friend mentioned the idea of cycling to Laura, but neither she nor her children had bikes at the time.
As part of her mission to find second-hand cycles online, Laura came across Monty’s Bike Hub, which is based around the corner from her Southampton home.
Laura was over the moon to get her hands on three bikes for under £100. She said:
“Originally I was just planning on getting bikes for my two oldest kids, but then Josh who manages the Hub asked ‘what about you?’
“After not being on a bike in donkey’s years, the possibility of us cycling all together hadn’t really crossed my mind.
“I had all these insecurities and fears, I was thinking ‘how am I going to ride a bike with a baby and two young kids?’”
As she started going out more, Laura’s worries about cycling as a family reduced and her confidence on two wheels grew. ©Laura Osborne
Building up confidence
The staff at the hub greatly reduced Laura’s worries about cycling as a family and built up her confidence on two wheels.
“They gave me lots of useful pointers to start cycling with my kids, like to keep local and to keep kids in front and in sight.
“One of the owners has his own kids, he knew all the right things to say based on his experience and could empathise with how I was feeling.
“They really built my confidence, signposted me to suitable local routes, and even put a child seat on the back of my bike for my littlest one.”
Laura set her fears aside, and in spite of not having cycled properly since she was around 12 years old, she took her family on the Southampton Cycle Network which runs alongside Route 2 of the National Cycle Network.
This was their first-ever ride as a family unit. Laura adds:
“The kids were all so happy.
“My (at the time) one-year-old was so chilled that he fell asleep on the back of my bike.
“The eldest two would jump off their bikes at the parks and climb trees, they were shattered when we got back home!
“It was such a good way to release pent-up energy, especially when the schools and activity clubs were closed.”
Laura's love of cycling has also been picked up by her kids. ©Laura Osborne
From cycling with her family to leading group rides
Laura’s newfound love didn’t just stop there.
After being invited to an adult-led group ride, once restrictions were lifted, she hasn't missed one since.
She now runs weekly ladies' rides, family, and youth rides in the school holidays, all on a voluntary basis. Laura added:
“The ladies' rides are free to join and they’re focused on confidence and fitness building.
“The routes can be quite challenging but they can all do it.
“When I did a bit of research, I found the only other women’s ride happening in the city was in the evening, which doesn’t always suit retired people.
“That’s why we went for daytime rides.
"And there’s a nice social element, the girls love a coffee and a natter.
“I like to vary the routes, especially for the youth rides to keep them interested and on their toes.
“Sometimes me and the other group leader will take them to the skatepark so they can have a mess around. It’s great.”
Laura now leads rides along the Nationa Cycle Network in her area to help inspire more people to learn to cycle. ©Laura Osborne
Spreading the joy that comes with cycling
Laura's currently limited to walking and cycling as ways of getting active, since she’s waiting for an operation, due to complications following a C-section.
Getting out on her bike with her family and local community continues to be an important pillar in her life.
Laura’s children have also caught the cycling bug and while chatting with Laura over the phone, her youngest heard the mention of a bike and asked if he could go out on a ride.
Laura branded her youngest child as “obsessed” with cycling.
Her middle child now loves cycling too and takes his bike to school every day.
Meanwhile, Laura's daughter, who has additional learning needs, benefits from joining the youth rides. Laura explained:
“I’ll talk about cycling to anyone that will listen, I want to share my passion.
“Thanks to the Hub, I’ve now got a whole community of friends that I never knew existed before.”