Cycling as My Identity: Shuhena Islam's Empowering Journey

Cycling as My Identity: Shuhena Islam's Empowering Journey

Embracing a New Passion Beyond Law

As a successful lawyer who trained at Clifford Chance, I always saw my profession as my core identity. However, discovering cycling opened a new chapter in my life, revealing a passion that transcends my legal career. Cycling has become a significant part of who I am, offering a sense of purpose, community, and a newfound identity.

Riding Through the Pandemic

The global pandemic brought unprecedented challenges but also a surge in cycling popularity. Many turned to cycling for exercise, commuting, or family outings, and indoor training platforms like Zwift saw a dramatic increase in usage. For me, cycling became a sanctuary. During lockdown, I embarked on extensive rides, including journeys to Box Hill and Cambridge, finding solace and freedom on the open road.

My Cycling Origin Story

I learned to ride a bike at 20 in Victoria Park, a memory filled with falls and laughter. Years later, I transitioned to road cycling, starting with a memorable ride in Dubai on the Al-Qudra track. This experience ignited my love for cycling, leading me to borrow a road bike and eventually purchase my own. Despite a challenging injury, cycling became a source of strength and resilience, helping me cope with personal grief and loss.

The Meaning of Cycling in My Life

Cycling is more than a sport to me; it's a companion and a source of solace. It has replaced my need for travel as a form of escape, introducing me to the beauty of the English countryside. The friendships and connections I've made through cycling are invaluable, and it's become a significant conversation starter, even in professional settings.

Breaking Cultural Barriers

As a Muslim woman in hijab and lycra, I've navigated cultural and religious challenges. My journey in cycling has been trailblazing, especially within my community. The inclusivity I've experienced in the cycling world has been incredible, with figures like Sir Bradley Wiggins offering encouragement.

Collaborating with Cycling Brands

The pandemic led to unique opportunities, including collaborations with Rapha for their #choosecycling campaign and the Women’s 100 initiative. These experiences have raised my profile, allowing me to inspire young women in my community and beyond. I've partnered with brands like Cannondale and Oakley, furthering my mission to empower underprivileged communities.

Giving Back and Inspiring Others

I lead women's rides and serve as the Women’s Champion at my local club, Hub Velo. My goal is to make cycling accessible and less intimidating, especially for women who may feel alone in this journey. I've shared my story on various platforms, including Bangladeshi TV, to encourage women from similar backgrounds to embrace cycling.

A Movement Beyond Sport

Cycling has transformed my life, providing joy, empowerment, and a platform to challenge societal norms. It's more than exercise; it's a movement that I'm passionate about sharing. My journey is a testament to the power of embracing new passions and the impact they can have on personal identity and community.

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