Meet the Wheeler: Ali Cigari
Ali first joined the Wheelers back in 2007 after a recommendation from a university friend. He left after a few years for a spell in Oxford, but returned to the fold in 2018 and has been getting stuck in time trialling, road racing, but above all riding with mates.
Tell us about your journey into cycling
I started riding in 2002 on my mountain bike (still have memories of cycling 5 miles from Barnet to Potters Bar in Hertfordshire and feeling like a million dollars). I bought my first road bike the next year, a Fausto Coppi, and the adventures really began from there. I slowly got into time trials, then road racing, and sportives. I still do events, but above all just enjoy riding around with club mates and eating cake at cafe stops.
What do you like about Kingston Wheelers?
Wheelers was recommended to me by a university friend back in 2007 as a super friendly bunch. The club just works well, there are plenty of people I get on with, and I just can’t imagine being a member of another London-based club.
What would you say to the cycling community to encourage more participation?
Just be kind. I distinctly remember back in 2004 some dude on a fancy bike I was chasing up a hill in Golders Green telling me “you are really strong…” (I really wasn’t, I was a fat kid, going slow). Here I am, 16 years later still remembering his positive attitude. For me what has worked has been the kindness of strangers. It didn’t matter that my English was poor or I was on a cheap bike; they were just happy to see me riding.
What advice would you give to riders new to the sport?
Don’t let one bad experience get you down. Like all other walks of life, you will encounter nice and encouraging cyclists, and not so nice ones. Take the positive, try and learn from them, and ignore the jerks. More specifically, be self-sufficient on rides, but someone will stop and help even if you have a problem. Do join a club, and for road riding, get yourself a road bike as it can be so much faster than a hybrid or MTB.
Why would you recommend the Wheelers?
The club is actively thinking about inclusivity, which is great to see. We could still do a lot better, but it is on a great path. And if more people who care about diversity join, then it can get there even quicker! I am looking forward to the day where we have a 50/50 male/female ratio and a population representation of BAME riders.
Follow Ali on Instagram: @oofaish