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Surviving 2020 on a tandem

Holly from RORO piloting a 'recumbent tandem' with a female participant on the front

For visually impaired, disabled and neurodivergent people, getting outdoors and taking invigorating exercise can be challenging at the best of times. But what do you do when a global pandemic hits? Luckily we have some incredible people in our ‘Two’s Company’ family who helped us adapt our service and find strength in new approaches. Here’s what they did…

Adventures on a recumbent tandem

This year we were delighted to partner with Ride Out Ride On (RORO), a project that provides ‘recumbent tandem’ rides for disabled people. RORO’s adapted bikes are perfect for people who can’t cycle independently - and unlike our group tandem rides, they could continue when lockdown restrictions had loosened. This was life-changing: Participants experienced freedom at a time when their lives were more restricted than usual.

The wonderful Holly from RORO cycled with nine adults and eleven young people, aged 18 or under. Between them they rode almost 150 miles, exploring everywhere from the Bristol to Bath Railway Path, to the Pill Path alongside the River Avon. All rides were offered free of charge, thanks to our generous *funders. This meant no one was excluded by their income.

RORO provided this liberating experience to people with epilepsy, Dyspraxia, Asperger’s, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, learning disabilities, and someone recovering from a brain aneurysm. The feedback she received was incredibly heart-warming. Here’s what Lila’s mum had to say:

“RORO enabled Lila to actually get on a bike and experience what most children accept as normal. It gave her the aspect of being free, just to go where she wants to go and enjoy the fresh air on her own terms. Her wellbeing improved dramatically, her mental health improved as well. She cycled further and contributed to the effort more each time she went. She loved it!”

Nigel’s story

Nigel is a regular volunteer with Two’s Company. In ‘normal’ times he pilots a tandem bike on our group rides, with a visually impaired ‘stoker’ on the back. This year, he offered to provide some Covid-secure, one-to-one tandem rides. He told us how 2020 has been for him: 

“This year has been particularly mentally challenging for me, with all the lockdowns, restrictions and cancellations of events. I have really missed everyone at Two’s Company!

The visually impaired people I’ve met are inspiring. They are interesting characters and thankfully, they’re forgiving of the many forgetful moments and various mistakes I make whilst guiding them here and there! The other volunteers are also an interesting mix of people, outside of my usual circle. 

That’s why it’s been really great to get out on tandem on a few occasions with a Two’s Company ‘stoker’. And although I shall miss the usual Christmas party, I'm looking forward our virtual get-together instead! Thank you to Robin and all at Life Cycle for their organisation and support!” 

Thanks to you too Nigel – and everyone who helped us keep going this year. We couldn’t do this without you! We would also like to thank *the Aubrey Orchard Lisle Charitable Trust and the Hedley Foundation for funding our partnership with RORO. The results were truly amazing.

Participant names were changed to protect identity. Photo courtesy of Ride Out Ride On.

Find out more about our Two’s Company project.