Your Stories – Anne Watson

My husband saw an article about Wheels for Wellbeing and encouraged me to check it out. I went along and met the gang and it was great. I’ve always liked bikes and been quite confident about trying new things. I saw a door opening and decided take the plunge and go through it.

My disability is from birth but following a fall a few years ago I injured my hip. Despite an operation my mobility worsened and became painful, so I started using a mobility scooter.

It had always been difficult for me to exercise and get fit. I put on weight and since my fall I found walking more difficult and tiring. Going to Wheels for Wellbeing’s cycling sessions made me feel much better, I lost weight and my stamina improved.

After building up my cycling confidence I felt confident enough to think about getting my own bike or, in my case, a trike. After getting advice from the friendly Wheels for Wellbeing staff and getting the name of a supplier, I found myself in possession of a rather flashy trike. I added a bike box on the back (to prevent people nicking my shopping) and my husband came up with an ingenious device to attach my crutch to the trike. The trike did not come cheap but I got help from a local advice centre to raise money towards the cost.

After more training and advice from Wheels for Wellbeing including going out with them on the roads of London I felt confident enough in my skills to go it alone. I now use the trike for hospital appointments and lots of other journeys. It’s liberating: unlike the mobility scooter my trike doesn’t need a battery and I’m doing the work so it’s much better for me. It’s less tiring than walking and it’s fun.

I’ve even been on a cycle rally and a Sky Ride, wearing the Wheels for Wellbeing vest. I’ve also had the excitement of being told by the police not to cycle in St James Park!

My kids are impressed and we go for rides in the park as a family.

Buying and using the trike has been a big learning curve; learning ‘road sense’ as well as the importance of keeping my trike in good working order and dealing with punctures. Shortly after I got my trike, two of its ball bearings went. The company I bought it from had changed hands and I ended up having make my own arrangements to get the trike fixed. Luckily a local bike shop did it for me so it worked out OK in the end. If I was buying a trike now I’d go for something more heavy duty for London. There have also been problems parking in hospital car parks.

I can now cycle quite a few miles at a stretch and I’m hoping to find a cycle group I can join. Wheels for Wellbeing helped to liberate my life and I’d like to see that happen for other people.

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