Doncaster resident Mike wrote in to the project with his cycling story. Mike hadn’t been on a bike after his was unfortunately stolen some years ago, but a kind donation from a friend meant that he has been able to rekindle his passion for cycling again and has felt the positive impact the activity has had on his mental health.
“I had looked forward to the prospect of the Tour de Yorkshire coming through Sprotbrough as I walked through in the early weeks of 2016 and watched the lovely landscape sprayed with yellow bikes. I hadn’t been on a bike since mine was stolen – I felt a large part of me had been wrenched that day.
Eight years later my friend Mark asked me if I would like an old Raleigh Cycle which belonged to his cousin, who passed away. I often said hello to his late cousin if he was in the Doncaster central public library. We went to pick it up from his home in Rossington. A few months later, I attempted to mount the cycle for the first time one morning. If I’m quite honest I was miffed that it had pedal grips on and as much as I tried, I was unable to get upright – never mind even down the road! The next day I took the darn things off, repaired a puncture and blew the front tyre up too! I was on my way – to freedom from anxiety!!
I was able to do a short tour of the area and got a feel for the freedom I surely missed; you see I had been suffering from anxiety. I quickly realised cycling would be an effective and productive way out of my misery at the time.
From there I completed regular cycles to church and back, negotiating the hair pin bend at Sprotbrough then climbing into the village through to the school, cutting off left down a track through farm land and making my way to a gate, which was close to the Boat Inn.
My confidence grew and I was able to conquer far bigger challenges to Sykehouse, the Wildlife Park and Doncaster Airport, where I got a few strange looks from a car park attendant, to whom I explained I was just visiting and was not going to fly out soon! I visited my brother’s at Auckley and shared a barbecue at my other brother and sister-in-laws’, where they kindly let me leave the bike inside. I had a few drinks and the old stories of yesteryear came into conversation.
Only a few days later I made the unlikely trip to York on my bicycle and it was the most important journey of my life. I stopped over and the hostel receptionist was so kind and let me leave the cycle in a safe space indoors. I met some fabulous people along the way and had a few close brushes with danger! It got darker and my nerves were starting to kick in; nobody knew I was making this journey but myself and my inner being. If I had told anyone maybe I may have had second thoughts, but not to be. I decided this was my decision. I’m glad I made it and came out the other side as a new person!”