So, I’m a bit busy at the moment, as is normal at this time of the year (and by ‘this time of the year’ I mean January through to December) so really the last thing I needed to be doing today was cycling into Bigtown to spend the afternoon in the park at an inclusive cycling event. But It turned out to be exactly the thing I needed to be doing (and not just because I took the opportunity to spread the word about Pedal on Parliament).
You might think an event promoting cycling for people with disabilities would be all kinds of worthy, but that’s because you’ve not experienced inclusive cycling Bigtown style. The group I’ve been volunteering with for the last year or so have just bought a whole van load of secondhand adaptive bikes, ready to set up a new inclusive cycling hub at Bigtown station.
I like working with them because they have a somewhat anarchic style which is the opposite of wrapping people up in cotton wool. Today’s event consisted of lining up an assortment of contraptions from a state-of-the-art wheelchair bike to some miniature go-karts, getting all comers to sign a form so we could at least inform their next of kin if they rode straight into the river, and then letting them loose with the instructions ‘stay in the park, don’t hit anyone, and bring it back’.
Pretty soon, almost every bike and trike had been commandeered, and the park was full of people old and young, able bodied and not, pedalling round the paths like people possessed. Amazingly, everyone came back unscathed – and in most cases with huge grins on their faces.
Me, I just stood around in the sunshine, took a few folk on a guided ride, chatted to all comers, and came home somewhat knackered but infinitely more relaxed.
Highlight of the afternoon was seeing two of the Buddies members – one of whom couldn’t ride a bike a year ago and had been told he never would – caning it round the park on a standard tandem that nobody else there had been able to ride.
Oh and this dog, who spent the afternoon snoozing on the path right in the middle of the event, completely unfazed by the fact that he had become a small furry traffic island in a sea of chaos.
I need to get hold of some of that attitude for myself.