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Cycling is mental-health magic for Maz

Maz is a 34-year-old, fun-loving DJ from Stockton, for whom cycling has always been an important way to stay healthy – both physically and mentally - especially in difficult times such as during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s Maz’s story, in her own words…

When did you start cycling?

I’ve always ridden bikes as a kid and an adult. There have been times when I haven’t cycled as much, but it’s always been there in the background. At the moment I ride mostly for fitness and fun, also to nip into town.

More than anything, though, I cycle for my mental health, which has been a problem for me over the years.

How has cycling helped your mental health?

About ten years ago, I became ill and as a result, I ballooned in weight, going from a size 10 to size 20. My mental health went really downhill and it was a really bad time for me.

As I started to recover, as soon as I was fit enough, I got out my bike and took it down to the local field. I fell off a fair few times but I didn’t look back! I felt much happier in myself, especially as I lost weight and got down to a much healthier size 14.

Earlier this year, I had another episode of poor mental health and was in a bad way. I started cycling more to help get my head in a better place and I feel much better now.

I’ve also started cycling to raise money for charity as well. I’ve recently cycled over 500km to raise money in the Cycle for Dementia Challenge and I’m looking forward to doing more charity rides in the future.

Do you cycle on your own or with friends?

A friend of mine introduced me to the Thornaby Funriders Group, which has been brilliant for me. Although I love cycling, it’s even better when you’re with friends as well. It’s a great way to build confidence and discover new places, and meet new people along the way.

What sort of bike do you have and what do you wear?

I have a gorgeous Trek hybrid bike. It’s orange and black so I’ve named it ‘Tiger’! It used to be my dad’s and I love it. I don’t need any other bike as it does everything and goes everywhere!

I do wear cycling clothes as it’s more comfortable than wearing jeans.

What’s your favourite thing about riding a bike and are there any downsides?

I love the fact that your problems seem to disappear when you’re cycling, it’s proper escapism. I like exploring new places and even getting lost is fun (sometimes)!

There are no major downsides for me, not even the weather. I can fix a puncture so I’m ok most of the time.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about cycling?

Firstly, make sure your bike is safe, especially if it’s been in the back of the shed for a while. After that, just do it!

If you’re worried or a bit scared, there’s always someone you know who rides a bike who would be more than happy to help you along. There’s no feeling in the world like when you pass your passion on to someone else. I know how much it’s helped me in my darkest moments and I would love to know that I could help someone else in the same position, maybe even save their life.


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