Tuesday, 14 October 2008

I Want to Ride My Bicycle.......!

Article by one of our members who uses the Pathway Exercise Referral Scheme at Palmer Park.

"The wind is whistling through my hair (OK, there’s a mild ruffling), and I haven’t yet crashed into anyone else with my random veering off to the right…What am I doing? Well, I’ve started riding a tricycle and triking my way around the cycle track at Palmer Park in East Reading.

It’s an ideal form of gentle exercise as you can go completely at your own pace, and if your balance is a bit off, like mine, the three wheels will keep you upright. It takes a little getting used to, and I wouldn’t advise trying to go round the banked course (!), but it gets you out in the fresh air and gives a real sense of achievement as you can build up the number of laps you do. I used to like walking, but since I can’t walk very far anymore, this is an ideal alternative.

On my first outing, just getting into the seat and sitting upright was a challenge, as I have rather weak core stability and my muscles were shaking uncontrollably, but as I relaxed and got my bearings, that improved. The next challenge was cycling in a straight line. I still veer off to the right at times (something to do with my coordination? Who knows?), but even that’s getting better with practice. The way I’m tackling it, is to do two or three laps, then rest, then start again until I feel I’ve had enough. I really enjoy it, and am hoping to build up the number of quarter of a mile laps I do each week.

The ‘Cycling for Health’ scheme is run by a partnership between Reading Borough Council and the CTC (the UK national cyclists’ organisation), and is supported by the Pathway Exercise Referral Scheme. In my case, my GP completed a Pathway Referral form for me and I took it along with me to my first session. The session is always supervised (I got lots of help the first time I went), and friendly assistance is always on hand from Helen Biggerstaff, CTC Community Cycling Development Officer, or Binders Roszcyk, a Pathway Exercise Referral Instructor.

There is currently a session at Palmer Park on Friday mornings from 10.30am to noon, but they are planning to introduce an additional session on Monday afternoons from 3pm. It costs £2.40 per session, though you are not expected to stay the whole time – you just do what you can. Both bicycles and tricycles can be borrowed when you get there.

To find out more, call Helen Biggerstaff at Reading Borough Council on 0118 901 5713.

Happy tricycling!"