Breeze Champion Sara Braidwood is leading her 300th Breeze ride this weekend in Merseyside. We caught up with her ahead of reaching the milestone to talk about her experiences with Breeze.
I first got into cycling in April 2013. I work for the NHS and they asked staff to change the way they commuted to work for a week, so I decided to take on the challenge and dig out my old bike which had been in the shed for a number of years.
After just one week of riding to work, I was hooked and continued to cycle. My mentor who worked in Public Health told me about a new programme called Breeze which aimed to get more women into cycling. None of my friends cycled and I had nobody to cycle with at the time so it was a good excuse to meet others through Breeze.
I wanted to get more involved in Breeze so I decided to go on a Champion training course in October 2013. I wanted to show others what fun cycling could be and that anyone of any age could enjoy taking to their bike and getting fresh air and a little bit fitter, whilst having fun.
I led my first ride in April 2014 from Seacombe Ferry to Port Sunlight garden centre on a sunny Saturday morning. I kept looking to see if anyone would register and to my surprise, eight ladies had booked on.
It was super to see everyone enjoying themselves – my first led ride was a great achievement for me.
I live on the Wirral Peninsular which is a wonderful place to ride. Cycling in the area is great – one of my favourite routes is from the Wirral to Anglesey, following the coast most of the way. All the ladies who come on these rides really enjoy it as there’s so much to see.
I have so many stories to share from women I have met through Breeze, from overcoming fears, depression, bereavement and seeing cycling changing their lives. I see people growing in confidence all the time, there are some ladies who haven’t cycled for some time who are now coming on cycling weekends.
I would never have called myself a leader before Breeze, but being a Champion has increased my confidence and has allowed me to do things I never thought I could. I now organise cycling holidays for ladies, I rode from London to Paris, and to celebrate my 50th birthday last year and cycled from Salzburg in Austria to Vienna. In 2014, I was awarded the first Total Women’s Cycling award for the ‘unsung cycling heroine’ which was a great honour.
I hope to continue encouraging women to cycle and enjoy the benefits that Breeze provides for ladies everywhere and from every walk of life.