Farooq Chaudhry: Brothers In Bristol On Bikes

Brothers on Bikes is a national club run as a network with ‘chapters’ in major cities throughout the UK. It has hubs in London, the Midlands, the North, and here in the southwest in Bristol. It sets out to introduce and open up cycling to those who have either not had the fortune of doing so and want to or help novice riders progress in skills and capability. Moreover, it promotes community and brotherhood and the need to help others through the power and beauty of cycling.

Our local initiative to support Muslims to cycle was devised by a few like-minded individuals who met up for Sunday club runs under the banner of a now-defunct Barakah Bike Club. We saw the forward steps that BoB had made in becoming a British Cycling recognised club with structure and vision, and it was clear that joining forces as a small but quickly growing group in Bristol would be beneficial.

BoB fits in nicely with the vibrant and diverse cycling scene here in Bristol, with riders being welcomed and participating in local events ranging from Hill Climb races and Audax rides to pacey training rides and sportives. Bath CC, a long-established local club, reached out to us after seeing a few of our riders in BoB kit on the Mendip hills near the iconic Cheddar Gorge climb. We collaborated with them initially with an offer of free bike box usage for cycling trips abroad and then a number of skills and bike handling workshops at their local circuit at Odd Down which were a big success. This sense of being part of the wider mainstream cycling scene is an important step that I am very passionate about. We are Muslims who ride bikes, but we are just normal people, like anyone else, who ride bikes. Our mission is to open the eyes of those in our community to the delights of cycling while ensuring we challenge and break down barriers that may be out there.

Breaking these barriers includes cultural and gender barriers, and we collaborate with clubs focused on supporting Muslim women. It is fantastic to see so many groups nationally supporting this drive to open cycling up and challenge the perceptions of a woman wearing a scarf or apparel other than bib shorts while they cycle.

Associating with BoB has given us greater exposure to other Muslim cyclists within our network and beyond. Junaid Ibrahim, Co-founder of BoB, has been a great aid in setting up our chapter and a role model for our younger riders with his awesome achievements on and off the bike. His recent BC Cycling Scholar programme internship and racing successes (now cat 3) are inspiring for us all.

I am hopeful that we can continue our recent success and collaboration in Bristol, which has a rich heritage and cycling scene, to establish ourselves with that community. Ensuring we are able to access the mainstream opportunities and services while also helping non-Muslims and people outside our communities appreciate that we are all the same and part of one big cycling family who like and share the same things.

Picture: Farooq Chaudhry, courtesy of Tim Wilkey