Everybody Active! All-ability cycling sessions at Palmer Park, Reading
By Therese Bjorn
Cycling UK runs all-ability cycling sessions across the country and one such session takes place every Wednesday morning, 10am to noon, in Reading at Palmer Park Sports Stadium.
Around 15 individuals attend the session with either a family member or a carer, and Brittany - who has been involved with the Everybody Active sessions for a few years - gets the fleet of adapted bikes ready for them. Then she makes sure that everyone is greeted and signed in.
Brittany says: “I really do enjoy it. I love working with people and to be out doing something. The relaxed atmosphere and flexible set-up here means that they can do intensive laps or sit back and enjoy the ride as they wish. We’re lucky to have a large and spacious venue, so the guys that come here can be accompanied by whoever they like.”
Above: Regular session attendee Harry with carer Lin - both are grinning at the temporary loss of Harry's shoe!
22 year-old Harry, who has learning difficulties and lives in supported accommodation, is a regular on Wednesday mornings. Harry normally pops along with housemates Jason and Simon.
As Jason and Simon get onto their tricycles, Harry is helped into his favourite adaptive bike by his carer. All three take off quickly and race each other round the asphalt track, beaming as they pass their carers on each lap.
Lin, who is with the team for the day, remarks: “Harry sits nicely on the bike and calms down right away. He really enjoys the good air and the varying speeds on the bike. The outing is an important part of the day and a social event too as we finish with a drink afterwards.”
Above: Jason smiles at the camera
Kyle, another carer who is at the session with Simon, adds: “It’s good exercise and Simon enjoys it. You can tell by his actions – he’s willing to carry on pedalling!”
Their household were put in touch with Cycling UK through West Berkshire Mencap, who provides supported living for people with a range of conditions.
Above: Simon pedals
Maryham also regularly attends on Wednesday mornings. Palmer Park’s cycling session is just one of the many activities Maryham enjoys as part of a broad spectrum scheduled for her by Optalis, the learning disability day service.
Bradleigh, support worker at Optalis, says of Maryham: “She’s a very quiet lady and doesn’t interact very easily with people. However, when she attends the cycling session she becomes interested and attentive and often lifts her head to look at her surroundings.”
Very often, Maryham’s father or brother attends the riding sessions to take her around for a few laps themselves.
Above: Maryham is all bundled up and ready for her ride
Everybody Active sessions are run by Cycling UK in partnership with Reading Sports and Leisure Services. Cycling UK provides the adapted bicycles, funded by The National Lottery, and Reading Sports and Leisure Services provides the venue, Palmer Park Sports Stadium. Regular sessions take place every Wednesday from 10am to 12noon.
For more information, email Javed Saddique (Cycling UK Development Officer, Reading).