Hello again from Amsterdam! I hope you’re all well and have made it through Storm Eunice unscathed. Let’s hope some better cycling weather is on its way! The storm made for some hectic cycling around Amsterdam, judging by the amount of die-hard dutchie cyclists I saw flying backwards across Dutch streets on social media.
It’s a good thing that the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships had already been held on the 6th of February during a wind force 7-8 storm. The slowest competitor battled the strong headwinds for 55 minutes, cycling at an average speed of 9 km per hour. Against all odds, the slowest competitor that day was not the 79-year-old (legend!) that chose to partake. The quickest man across the finish line took 20.23 minutes to complete the 8.5 km stretch over the Delta Works of Southern Holland. When asked about strategy, most contestants replied with variants of “Switch off your brain and just smash it. Just keep pedalling no matter what.”
Cycling against strong headwinds is a beautiful allegory for today’s topic; an issue that is close to the hearts of everyone at RideOn. I’m writing about the brave men and women who have been wounded in service and now face the metaphorical headwinds of their newly found challenges. One of RideOn’s main missions is to help wounded warriors regain the quality of life that they might have been missing since their injury. In the fight against physical or mental trauma, our weapon of choice is the (electric) bike, in all its various, adapted formats.
Whilst there are numerous inspiring organisations that support the WIS community – isolation, anxiety, depression, spiralling health issues and decreased mobility are little devils that can quickly rear their heads. Staying physically active and engaged in society are crucial components of recovery, but sometimes it can be a struggle to find an exercise that won’t exacerbate existing conditions. The beauty of electrically assisted, adapted cycling is that it can help combat all of the issues listed above.
Simon Murley, the founder of RideOn, has had some first-hand experience with the benefits of cycling. In his twenties, Simon battled through 18 months of paralysis following a back injury and a long road to recovery after he was wounded in service. In those early years of his rehabilitation, cycling was the first form of exercise that became accessible to him. The thousands of miles that he cycled helped him to maintain his fitness and positive outlook, eventually steering him in the direction of a full recovery.
One problem with traditional bicycling, however, is that it’s not always accessible to veterans that are living with disability or battling illnesses and conditions. Luckily, the cycling world abounds in ways and means of reconfiguring wheels, pedals, and seats so that almost anyone can ride. The pedal assist feature on adapted cycles takes care of hurdles such as steep hills and heavy winds, so that almost anyone can ride.
RideOn isn’t just a place to find cool Super73’s or nifty cargo bikes: it’s also an inclusive e-bike company. Inspired by amazing organisations such as Help for Heroes, Combat Stress, Wheels for Wellbeing and Cycling without Age, RideOn offers a range of adapted cycles for purchase or hire, in an effort to spread mobility and wellbeing amongst groups in society that are often overlooked.
RideOn has partnered up with the Dutch, industry-leading manufacturer of special needs bikes, Van Raam. Van Raam has revolutionised the possibilities for older and disabled riders with their high tech, premium Dutch engineering, creating tailor made bikes to suit every disability. Their motto is: “Let’s all cycle” and all of us here at RideOn agree. EVERYBODY, no matter their age, challenges or disability, should be able to enjoy the vast array of benefits that cycling has to offer. For this reason, RideOn also supports charitable, piloted rickshaw rides in the Penzance area to those who can no longer cycle independently, in conjunction with Cycling Without Age.
If you feel like getting out on a bike and into nature this Spring, feel free to call, e-mail or come round the shop in Penzance for a coffee and a test ride. RideOn’s friendly crew will be more than happy to help you get acquainted with the world of adapted cycling, answer all the questions you might have and help you find the perfect ride for your journey.
For more details on all the benefits of cycling, read my next article here
With all my love and well wishes from the Holland, the home of Van Raam
Did you know?
Help for Heroes carry cycling in their DNA. The charity was formed in 2007 after its founders organised a sponsored cycle to raise money for military personnel. Its supporters haven’t stopped cycling since. For more info on their charity bike rides: https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support/charity-bike-rides/
Combat Stress provides support and treatment to veterans suffering from problems such as (Complex-) PTSD, anxiety and depression. Understanding its mental health benefits deeply, they actively promote cycling and partake in many cycling challenges around the country and abroad. Join team Combat Stress for one of the toughest rides in the UK if you dare: a 12-day, 1000-mile journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats. For more about their bike rides: https://combatstress.org.uk/cycles
The Invictus Games is one of the pinnacles of athletic achievement for those wounded in service, empowering contestants and supporters alike to believe in all the great things that they can still achieve post-injury. Its next event will commence on the 16th of April 2022 in The Hague, Holland. To find out more about this this heart-warming spectacle of strength and perseverance, check out the Invictus foundation on https://invictusgamesfoundation.org/ or find tickets on https://invictusgames2020.com/en/
Inclusive cycling hubs are places where disabled people can go to cycle in a supportive environment, away from traffic. The UK boasts a good number of inclusive cycling hubs and events thanks to organisations like Help for Heroes, Wheels for Wellbeing, Cycling Without Age and Cycling Projects. Cycling sessions are usually led by trained instructors and supported by volunteers. They give disabled individuals and groups an opportunity to try out a variety of cycles, with the support of a friend or carer if needed. They provide a space for disabled people to regain confidence in cycling, develop social networks and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits that cycling has to offer.
If you are a veteran and are struggling with mental health issues or feeling lonely or anxious, don’t despair. You are not alone and there is help for you. Reach out to Combat Stress, on their 24-hour helpline on 0800 138 1619, visit www.combatstress.org.uk