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Outdoor wheelchair activity with Sportability

Sportability collage

Yorkshire Care Equipment were pleased to sponsor Sportability Yorkshire’s Trikes & Bikes June event at Leeds Urban Bike Park. David, Graeme and myself were invited down to meet up with the volunteers and accompany them around the bike park as they tried out the equipment.
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Take the ‘dis’ out of disability

This event was hosted by Sportability, who aim to take the ‘dis’ out of disability by giving people with restricted mobility the chance to try outdoor sports. The mountain bikes and trikes were provided by local not-for-profit company Experience Community, giving attendees the chance to trial different equipment on a free-of-charge basis to see what works best for them.

As a company whose aim is to enhance quality of life it was a privilege to take part in this event and support a cause we feel so passionately about.

Sportability on the tracks

On the morning of the event we were greeted by Jane from Sportability and the Experience Community team. The participants arrived and gathered for an informal briefing before deciding which vehicles they wanted to try out. The level of enthusiasm shown by everyone was infectious, and the warm breeze and inviting trails of the bike park really sharpened the mood for a fantastic day.

The teams on trikes and bikes

The team went out on the trails in groups of four or five, accompanied by ourselves and the volunteers. Jane showed the first-timers the ropes, talking them through the various hand-controls and different features of the vehicles. Steering and propelling the trikes was a bit like ‘patting your head and rubbing your tummy’ as she liked to call it.

The trikes have two large wheels at the front and one steering wheel acting like a rudder at the back. The two drive wheels at the front are propelled by two push levers, one on each side. These levers incorporate the brakes, steering and electric assist. Operating these levers puts strain on the upper body, ‘resistance training’ as some called it, but builds up strength over time. The MS sufferers in the group experienced a loss of sensation on certain areas of the body, making it difficult to ‘feel’ the ground underneath them as they travelled over it.

All kinds of terrain, all kinds of trikes

Experience Community also had a range of really innovative bikes to try out, with a mixture of hand and foot pedals and front and rear wheel drive. The pedal bikes offered a more recumbent position for the rider and a lower centre of gravity which was a preferred position for some.

The park had an abundance of terrain on offer, from more gentle concrete and gravel paths to grassy slopes and more ‘off-road’ type trails. The different routes were graded by level of difficulty so could be suited to each person’s level of ability and confidence. The freshers soon learnt the ropes were eager to embrace the challenge, traversing the slopes and navigating the adverse cambers with rugged determination.

A camaraderie of different conditions

Everyone had their own story to tell and it was inspiring to see the camaraderie and teamwork among such a diverse range of participants, with different conditions ranging from MS to polio and fibromyalgia. Some had military backgrounds and had taken part in many marathons and sporting events, others were just there to give it a go and get out with others in the fresh air.

While we were there we took the opportunity to test drive the new all-terrain Magic360 chair, and are pleased to report it performed brilliantly. The chair is just as at home indoors on flat, smooth surfaces as it is flicking up gravel around country parks. The chunky castors at each corner of the chassis give the chair excellent handling ability and give the driver confidence to tackle slopes and cambers with ease.

After letting off steam around the bike park, the on-site café was a great place to replenish our energy levels. They turn out some excellent fodder and we can wholeheartedly recommend the coffee!

Energy and positivity

The energy and positivity created by the event was unmistakable and so clear to see from the smiles and joy on people’s faces.

When everyone had had their fill of coffee – and exercise – we packed up and set off home after a truly enriching day, full of the buzz and memories and looking forward to the next one!

Trikes & Bikes partners:

Sportability
Experience Community
Leeds Urban Bike Park

Useful links:

Activities for people living with MS
How much does a wheelchair cost?
How much is an active user wheelchair?
Guide to Wheelchair Sizing

To find out more please get in touch with our team:

    Graeme Wilson
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