For Plum’s fifth birthday, we all wanted to share our celebrations with a variety of local causes that make a difference in their local community. After a lot of debate, three charities were singled out to receive some surprise support: Secret World Wildlife Rescue, Lympsham Pre-School and my own choice In-2-Biking.
After hearing Mark Twain’s quote at a young age, I swiftly and steadfastly made up my mind that cycling was not something I’d enjoy. Ever.
Despite this, I decided that I wanted to support a charity that would enable people of all abilities to master a skill I don’t have so In-2-Biking was perfect. (I admit, perhaps a little selfishly, that I also hoped the experience would help me overcome my own fear of anything on two wheels!)
My introduction to In-2Biking
In preparation for helping at the charity, Graham and Louisa Thomas visited the Plum office to tell me more about In-2-Biking and what I’d be getting myself into. They explained that In-2-Biking aims to:
- provide a cycling club for children and adults with additional needs
- help combat isolation through social engagement
- tackle health issues while developing confidence and building a skill base
- provide volunteer opportunities at sessions
- provide cycling proficiency lessons
- offer training, particularly those who have a disability, in cycle coaching courses, cycle maintenance and first aid
- offer steps towards skills and qualifications with the aim of helping people to find possible employment
Graham, who has spina bifida, told me that he’d been helping develop In-2-Biking ready for its launch in September 2014 and that, thanks to the charity’s adapted bikes, he’d been able to take part in a triathlon and raise awareness of disability and what can be achieved.
At this point, I was convinced I’d made the right decision. (But I did explain to Graham that as someone who can’t ride bikes without stabilizers or swim without armbands, I wouldn’t be taking part in a triathlon anytime soon!)
The big day
I opted to help out on a sunny Saturday afternoon, arriving at Worle Community School at 1pm to help several of the regulars set up a cycle course marked by out by cones. As we started moving the bikes to the course, I was amazed. The range of adapted cycles the charity has is incredible and there really is something for everyone. The have everything from traditional mountain bikes to handcycles, a four-wheel jeep, two-seater tandems, tricycles and even bikes that can carry wheelchairs.
Once everything was set up, the cycling instructor, Steve, paired all of the volunteers with a participant and I partnered Gavin, on a side steering trike, for the first half of the session. My role was to help him navigate around the course and assist with steering when needed. As Gavin’s confidence soared so did his speed. By the end of the first hour, I’d had an excellent workout trying to keep up!
Thankfully, I was able to catch my breath in the second half of the session when The In-2-Biking team spotted an opportunity to get me cycling. I was partnered with Les and we shared a side-by side bike; I was responsible for steering while we both peddled laps of the track.
It was a great experience; the volunteers and the participants all had a lovely day and it was really rewarding to see everyone having such a good time. Although I won’t be ditching the stabilizers quite yet, In-2-Biking has proved that anyone really can cycle!
Find out more by visiting the In-2-Biking website or by joining the In-2-Biking team at their sponsored funride at Clarence Park East, Weston-super-Mare, on Sunday 5 July from 10am to 4pm. Download the flyer here (PDF, 359Kb).