Disabled cycling group reflects on a year to remember

Wheels 4 Fun out on a ride
Wheel 4 Fun out on a ride
Wheel 4 Fun out on a ride

Disabled cycling group reflects on a year to remember

This summer Wheels 4 Fun in Leeds celebrated its first birthday the way cyclists love to – with tea and cake of course! The July picnic was a real celebration for the club, with the energy continuing throughout the year.

The Cycling UK-affiliated group has very much met its aim of providing support, guidance and advice to adults with physical disabilities, and continues to go above and beyond. Its dedicated and experienced volunteers have proven themselves in every respect, from supporting participants with varying needs, to maintaining a small fleet of tandems, tricycles and other bikes. Despite its short life so far, it has helped a wide range of people, from those recovering from strokes and head injuries to those with degenerative conditions or more minor illnesses.

Wheels 4 Fun's first birthday

It’s been a year of milestones; two grants in 2017 allowed Wheels 4 Fun to buy new tricycles; essential equipment for many of those helped by inclusive cycling projects. Together, participants have been given amazing opportunities for themselves and their loved ones, from weekly Saturday sessions to a ride along the Wetherby to Spofforth cycle route on the Tour de Yorkshire weekend. Just last month, they also enjoyed a successful day at the new Bodington cycle track at the University of Leeds’s Brownlee centre.

The most rewarding thing is to see people developing their skills and abilities and of course we all enjoy the social side with everyone mixing in. It’s also been really heartening having the support of so many volunteers and other people who chip in and help.

Trish Cunnison, Wheels 4 Fun

These activities have inspired some of the riders to buy their own bicycles, tandems and tricycles, and go off in search of new adventures, including a glorious ride through the tulip fields of Holland. For some, this has come after months of steady progress within the group, working their way up from tandems and balances bikes and tricycles to cycling independently on standard bicycles. This is an incredible feat for someone with a serious neurological condition – and it’s Wheels 4 Fun that has provided the time, space and encouragement to make it possible.

Trish Cunnison, founder of Wheels 4 Fun, said: “Our first 18 months of operation has been very rewarding; it’s been great to see people getting such different things from the group; some enjoy going for longer rides on the tandems with our pilots, others who have difficulty walking are thrilled with the freedom they feel on a tricycle.

“From my point of view, as a physiotherapist, the most rewarding thing is to see people developing their skills and abilities and of course we all enjoy the social side with everyone mixing in. It’s also been really heartening having the support of so many volunteers and other people who chip in and help.”

Michael’s story is just one fantastic example of what the club can achieve. Having suffered a stroke, he couldn’t ride a bike when he first came to Wheels 4 Fun towards the end of last year. After eight months of practice, mainly on a balance bike, Michael was on a standard bicycle unassisted. He’s now raised £1000 for Wheels 4 Fun through a sponsored ride.

Michael on a standard bicycle

Michael said: “I saw a flyer for the group at Chapel Allerton and attended the cycling session the very next day. Everybody at the group were welcoming, friendly, enthusiastic and positive. I was elated when within a couple of hours I was riding a trike. I have hardly missed a session since and I can now ride a standard bicycle again. It is difficult to express in words the feelings of achievement and progress that learning to cycle again can produce.

“In addition I have made many new friends, amongst what feels like a new family.”

Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Membership gives you peace of mind insurance, discounts in cycle shops, rides & routes – for just £3.75 a month!