I was reborn as a cyclist at 26 years of age
On 28th June 2016 I had my first bike anniversary. One year earlier I was starting a new life, one I had never imagined I would call mine.
Thanks to an experienced cycling enthusiast I discovered that I could learn how to ride a bike at the age of 26. He sent me a link to a volunteer group called Bike Anjo (“Bike Angel” in Portuguese). This group changed my life, my view of the world, my habits and more.
After clicking myself through the website of Bike Anjo, I immediately filled in the form to join the “Bike Anjo School”. A few days later, I received an email saying that I was chosen along with 30 others to learn how to ride a bike on the last Sunday of the month.
Very young and very old students
When I arrived at the school location I realized that I was one of the youngest “apprentice riders”. There were just a few people my age there, including one anxious little boy accompanied by his mother. The others seemed to be aged between 35 and 60 years old, the majority of whom were women.
One volunteer introduced us to their crew and gave us a brief explanation of Bike Anjo’s work and history. We were called one by one in order of arrival. I waited patiently while enjoying the beautiful sunny day and watched the first ones doing the same I had come there for: learning how to ride a bike.
Finally my time had come after 3 hours of waiting. I still had no idea what I was in for. In general my lessons were smoothly, I followed all the instructions and guidelines given to me. Whenever I lost control or balance, I wasn’t afraid.
After about 45 minutes of control and balance exercises I was able to ride a few consecutive laps in the square. I knew I would need more practice, but despite this, I became a cyclist at that moment. At the end of my lessons, I was exhausted, I felt pain in my legs (injured by falling) and shoulders (physical and mental stress). Despite this, I was completely delighted. It was worth it.
Learning to ride was just the beginning
One month later I had already completed the following workshops provided by Bike Anjo: learning about traffic practices and care, safety riding, monitored cycling tour of 10 km, basic bike mechanics and the volunteer training day. Soon I became a new volunteer and started teaching other people how to ride a bike exactly as I was taught a month ago.
Since then I haven’t stopped cycling. It was just a matter of time before I got better at riding, helping other people to achieve the dream of riding a bike, cycling to work, taking part in cycling groups and riding around the city.
Five months later, at the end of November, I made a decision, a big new change in my life. I decided to live abroad. It meant saying goodbye to my lovely bike among other things. It meant wondering whether I could continue cycling or not? Would I continue as a Bike Anjo volunteer? We would see soon.
Thankfully my new home Dublin has plenty of cycle paths and infrastructure to support cycling.
Taking Bike Anjos to Europe
After a few weeks I got to know a lot more about locations, routes, people, etc. Every time I went out looking for a place to live I always asked myself “if I had a bike where would I park it?” And surprisingly a lot of people were interested to know I was a cyclist and mentioned that they would like to learn how to ride a bike. That was my chance to tell them that I was able to help.
Soon I started to organise myself and founded a local Bike Anjo group in Dublin.
Altogether, we now have over ten volunteers who already helped a few people to take on the streets on two wheels. We are waiting for more opportunities to bring the wonderful world of cycling to people.
“Cycling is not only an important element on urban mobility, but an instrument for citizenship and awareness of socio-environmental issues. Bike Anjo (“bike angel” in Portuguese) was created with the perception of mobilizing people using the bicycle as a tool of self and community transformation. It started in 2010 in São Paulo/Brazil as a platform where new cyclists were connected with a volunteer to help out on learning how to ride a bike, building safer routes and bike commuting.” (This is the introduction of another article about Bike Anjo Community. To read the whole article see: https://ecf.com/news-and-events/news/brazilian-bike-community-map).
You want to get active yourself?
Bike Anjo has an online platform where people can ask for help and get in contact with a volunteer that is assigned to deal with their request. This platform is translated into three languages (Portuguese, Spanish and English) and is set up to deal with all countries where there are available volunteers, for instance, Brazil, Ecuador, United States, Portugal, Germany, Ireland, France, Australia and more.