Women in Cycling – Mahnoor Sultan Campbell

Introduce yourself (and your bikes…)

My name is Mahnoor Sultan Campbell& I live in Glasgow. I am a teacher by profession but am currently on a career break exploring the world of active travel and green transport.
I have 2 bikes, my first a Trek Navigator 300 which has aged well but is recently starting to feel and look a bit neglected. My new pride and joy is currently my full time companion, but as I am growing older I fancy an e-bike and a third with suspension as I do miss that in my current ride.


What is your connection to the world of cycling?

Up until 2 years ago my experience of cycling was very different.I enjoyed it greatly and went out on my own on cycle paths or with friends and family on days out and picnics and organized to do some cycling with some children of a social club. Then I heard about Storybike rides and got more adventurous and started going out with groups on longer day rides and then decided to become a ride leader through a Climate Change Funded project running in Al-Meezan (an Islamic Charity in the south side of Glasgow). That training and introduction to the trainers opened the doors to a world I never knew of. I am now a Cycle Trainer and last year gave up my job as a teacher to promote cycling for women and children through Al-Meezan.

What got you into cycling? (or back into it?)

I grew up in Pakistan and was not allowed to have or ride a bike. Once I moved to Glasgow and saw so many women cycling I fancied learning. And had a vision of me cycling away with the wind in my hair (the hijab came later) and having a sense of freedom. After years of asking if I could get stabilizers made for an adult bike & various other crazy ideas I saw a news item on Scottish TV where Cycling Scotland had organised a session to teach older women how to ride a bike. I was overjoyed and the year I turned 40 I met Andy Dunn from Scottish Cycling Network who in less than an hour taught me how to ride a bike and from then on it was just practice and my dream came true! Now I try to excite, entice& inspire other women and get them to share my pleasure.

What would you say was your most significant achievement (so far!)?

Pedal for Scotland 2015, for me was most significant. When I had signed up for it I had thought I would be doing it with my husband. But in the months after registration he got diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment at the time of the ride and was in no fit state to ride. I considered cancelling but had raised funds for a charity. Encouraged by my friends and colleagues I decided to go it alone. By the grace of Allah I managed to complete the ride without incident and made my way back home safe. Biggest achievement of my life!

What’s your biggest frustration?

The lack of a widespread & connected infrastructure. I was fascinated on a recent visit to Stockholm and have seen evidence of other European cities and would love to have a similar setup here. Without it and a good public transport system we cannot move towards a greener sustainable transport future.

If you could wave a magic wand, what’s the one (cycling-related) thing you’d wish for?

A Stockholm or Dutch style network of cycle routes in every town and city of Scotland.

What’s your typical day/week of cycling? And what are the rides you dream about?

I carry my bike in my car for most of the way to work. On occasions I do a part commute by bike & take groups out on rides.
My dream rides are with friends or hubby, away for the day or even part of the day. Sunshine but I’d settle for a dry day, a number of stops, time to enjoy the spectacular scenery Scotland has to offer.

I dream of a multi-day ride where I have a comfortable bed at the end of each day and don’t have to carry my luggage!

One of the purposes of the Women’s Cycle Forum is to promote women who are in cycling and make them more visible – and particularly to see the end of the dreaded all-male panel. Would you be interested in speaking more on panels or at conferences and if so what about?

I am not as knowledgeable about cycling issues to be on a panel. My main work has been with ethnic minority women & children, particularly Muslim women, in trying to break down the barriers for them and giving them the support they need to get into cycling. If there was ever any interest in that area I would be happy to be on a panel.

Who are the women in cycling you’d like to hear from next and why?

Suzanne Forup (Cycling Scotland) and Sally Hinchcliffe (WalkCycleVote) – to me they play a significant role in cycling in Scotland and need to be heard and acknowledged for all the work they do.

Editor’s note – Mahnoor’s wish is our command: we also have interviews with Suzanne and Sally