My Adidas clothing worn on some of my activities were gifted. If you like any of the stuff I was wearing or would like to find out more of what’s on offer check out these links: https://www.adidas.co.uk/women-clothing & https://www.adidas.co.uk/training-clothing
Extra Free Tip: If you become a member of the Adidas Creators Club which is free to join you can get access to exclusive rewards as well as 20% off. Thank me later!
‘London – its a city that moves so fast, it takes energy just to stand still’
– Barbara Walters (adapted)
This quote was actually about New York City; however I think it is very apt for my birth city of London. Its a go go go urban jungle and with that, it can be difficult to get a slice of outdoor adventure in the hustle and bustle. Living in London means I need to make a conscious decision to get outside and it is not always easy! So October was my month to be active with groups in London that get you outside and adventurous, and I chose in honour of Black History Month to attend black-led groups.
BLACK GIRLS DO BIKE (BGDB)
‘It’s a sisterhood’
Frequency: Hosted twice a month
Route: Loop of Hackney starting in Victoria Park & passing through London Fields, Hackney Downs, Millfields & the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
My first time cycling in London was one summer afternoon after work back in 2016 along the cycle highway exploring the street art of Cable Street and it was glorious! And yet I am still apprehensive about cycling on the streets of London. BGDB offers a great space for budding beginner cyclists, long-distance cycling warriors and all that’s in between with the removal of competition (often seen in cycle clubs) and replacing it with sisterhood. The London chapter of Black Girls Do Bike was launched in 2021 by Karen Safo-Barnieh with the group being founded in the USA by Monica Godfrey-Garrison.
Rides are split into classifications of ‘Short & Sassy’, ‘Bold & Beautiful’, ‘Fierce & Fabulous’, Long & Strong’, ‘Go Big or Go Home’, all based on distances and the final one with some elevation – ‘Hills on Wheels.’
This fine Saturday morning was my second time riding with BGDB and it was of course a ‘Short & Sassy’ cycle of ‘Tour de Hackney.’ Karen was reassuring and encouraging as I navigated the streets and the weather was shining strong. It was a wonderful way to exercise in the city, meet new black women and also just discover new parts of London I may not necessarily have had the chance to visit or walk through. It even improved my confidence in cycling on the road and next time I hope to get my bike serviced rather than use the Boris bikes which are perfectly fine to use on the short cycles but can feel heavy for some at times.
I may not be committing fully to road cycling but I will surely be on another BGDB ride again!
Alternative Groups for those interested in cycling in London: Together We Ride (TWR) cycling club and Black Cyclists Network.
‘#BIRDGANG – reclaiming green spaces’
Activity – Bird watching
Frequency: Hosted monthly
Location: Epping Forest
I’ve never gone bird watching – it’s just never something that’s crossed my mind to do or take up. I remember my time in the Amazon and my guide discussing in detail the different beautiful birds but without any binoculars, my eyes were just not up to scratch to take in the full details. I’ve often passed bird huts on my hikes and not fully appreciated it. So when Flock Together, a bird-watching collective for people of colour (POC) launched in June 2020, I paid attention and was determined to try it out.
Founded by Ollie Olanipekun and Nadeem Perera who bonded over their love of bird watching over social media, Flock Together has grown beyond imagination, opening chapters in other countries, setting up an academy arm to get children to be ‘birders’, and collaborating with a host of brands including dropping their latest trainer inspired by bird, the Kingfisher.
Again, I was lucky to get another glorious clear blue sky for my latest outdoor in the city activity and that’s what you need when bird watching. The start of my bird watching experience was troublesome as I had zero idea how to get my binoculars to focus properly but luckily volunteers are on hand to come help you with that. Once that was done it was a game-changer! If you don’t have your own binoculars Flock Together happily provide some on the walk. This bird-watching walk was headed up by Nadeem and we went off the main paths as we sought to see different birds within the forest. It felt safe and lovely to be able to go off the paths because you were in a large group. Halfway through the walk we stopped for lunch and participants shared different projects they were working on or wanting to bring attention to and it enhanced the community feel which Flock Together aims to foster.
This certainly will not be my last time bird watching within London. I’m determined to see and learn more about birds and if it means walking in the great outdoors it’s always a yes from me!
BLACK GIRLS HIKE (BGH)
‘A safe space for black women to explore the outdoors’
Activity – Hiking/Walking
Route: Woodside Park to Hampstead Heath covering part of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk
Frequency: Monthly at various locations across the UK
I first connected with Rhiane, the founder of BGH through Instagram probably through the use of the hashtag #blackgirlshike back in 2019 and I’ve been a fangirl of BGH ever since repping them whenever I get the opportunity. Rhiane founded BGH in 2019 and it has exploded into a powerhouse of hikes all across the UK with location leaders. It has since expanded into weekend multi-activity trips as well as fostering a community of black women to set up their own hikes or local walks. In addition, BGH has been part of many national campaigns.
Despite our shared love of hiking I didn’t get to go on my first hike with BGH until the end of 2020!! However, since then I have been able to go on a few more and this October I got to take part in the Dollis Valley Greenwalk as part of the London group. It was classified as an easy walk of a healthy 6 miles and Hampstead Heath is always a location I love to explore and admire the views.
The thing I like about hiking and in this safe space is just coming unapologetically as you are – not feeling ‘othered’, not minimised in the conversations you have and not having to change how you conduct yourself, it’s a ‘come as you are’ experience full of laughter and black joy all whilst exercising and enjoying the outdoors. If you are looking for community spirit or want to meet more black women as a black or mixed-race woman yourself, and enjoy the outdoors, then come along!
Will you see me again at a BGH hike – it’s a resounding YES! And I have my eyes wide open to catch a ticket for one of those weekender trips in the Lake District!
Alternative Groups: Steppers UK (open to all POC and genders), Black by Men Walking
Did I mention that all these groups I’ve talked about are FREE or you can provide a small donation? There really is no excuse for me as a black woman not to continue being active in the city. It was wonderful to have such an active October and I look forward to finding more groups to keep my adventurous spirit satisfied in London.
The Five to Nine Traveller