Three-day event organised to introduce people to adaptive cycling

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Friday 1st April 2022 9:58 am
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The rally has been organised to help people find out more about adaptive cycling
The rally has been organised to help people find out more about adaptive cycling (Mel Williams )

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A three-day event starting today will introduce people with disabilities to cycling.

The Ice Trike Rally runs until Sunday in Bala and will give people the chance to meet experts in adaptive cycling.

"It’s hard to adjust both physically and mentally to acquired disability," an event organiser said.

"Rebuilding wellbeing and independence through adaptive cycling is what we do.

"Re-engage friends and family to get on a new active life track with our first national event at Bala.

"Brain injury, amputation, stroke, spinal injury, general fatigue, lack of balance, arthritis, are no barrier to adaptive cycling, adapted to suit your needs, mountains become molehills."

The three-day event will give people a chance to see adaptive cycling equipment for physical and neurological challenges (ages 15 yrs+).

People can take part in a local guided ride and bring their own equipment, if they have it, to meet like-minded people.

You can learn about other adaptive cycling hubs and all-ability trails. You can stay and explore cycle routes of Snowdonia and north Wales.

Artist Mel Williams, who lives in Bala and has a rare bone disease called Hypophosphatasia, has an electric bike. She will be taking part in the rally to help other people find out about the benefits of adaptive cycling.

"I bought my first electric bike over 10 years ago and that was a real boost to be able to get out and about again with my family and friends," she said.

"Since then my condition has deteriorated further. I’ve had cortisone injections in my hips, shoulders and elbows just to keep going. The tendons in my feet are degenerative which causes severe pain when walking and then I had a total shoulder replacement.

"I was told that I could never ride a bike again because my shoulder could not be replaced a second time due to my soft bones. The surgeon told me it would be a catastrophe if I damaged it and never to ride a bike again. I was devastated as this was my only form of exercise.

"I began researching other forms of cycling and discovered recumbent trikes.

"I travelled to Devon and met a wonderful gentleman called Tom Pales of Freetrike Rehab Cycling. He took me out on a trike with e-assist and I was hooked. It took just five minutes to get a feel for the trike and it was a revelation. This wasn’t a downgrade - it was an upgrade. I could peddle in comfort with my back supported. With the assist I could go out again and enjoy the wonderful scenery and even carry the picnic!"

Mel carried out more research and found Paul Hallinan from Adapt-e in Cheshire.

"Paul took me for a test ride on a trike with fully automatic gearing and I decided to upgrade again," Mel explained.

"Through working with people like Paul and Tom I have found that I was able to rebuild my independence and fitness. It’s such a joy to be able to get out and about in the sunshine and feel included and free.

"Paul delivered my trike to Bala and I took him on a cycle ride around the area. Then the idea of an adaptive rally was born as we chatted away as we explored.

"We both wanted to share our knowledge of the opportunities there are for people when using adaptive equipment. So many people don’t actually recognise themselves to be disabled but they are certainly struggling through life and a little bit of assistance or adaptations can make a huge difference physically and mentally."

The rally is at the Hwb in Bala. The opening times are, today, 1 April, 12pm-5pm, tomorrow, 2nd April, 10.30am-4.30pm, Sunday, 3rd April, 10.30am-4.30pm.

The launch of the rally today coincides with Mel’s appearance this evening on Derek Brockway’s Weatherman Walking.

Mel is on the show in her capacity as an artist.

“It was an honour to be invited to be part of a group of artists meeting by the riverside at Betws y Coed where we met Derek,” said Mel.

“Derek had a lesson from Alison Bradley on charcoal drawing whilst David Morgan, Jean Morgan and I sat and sketched the scene sitting by the river. We are all north Wales artists inspired by the local landscape.

“The programme sees Derek travelling through Snowdonia to walk a section of the Slate Trail to promote the former slate mining communities in the area before he meets us in Betws y Coed.

“It was unusual for me sketching in charcoal as I normally work in encaustic.

“It was wonderful to meet Derek and he really is as happy and cheerful as he comes across on the TV. “

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