My daughter Suzie is a keen cyclist, but as she has learning difficulties, we couldn’t find a suitable cycling group for her to join. In 2004, inspired while working as a cycle trainer for Sally Haywill’s in-school cycling scheme STAbikes, I started my own group: a cycling club for people with learning disabilities from moderate to profound and complex.
Pedal Power was small-scale, with just two members, originally. I had a tea party at my house which raised around £600 to get started. News of the club soon spread. Within a few weeks we had 10 members. I paid another trainer to run sessions with me and worked with a behavioural specialist so we catered properly for our members. Ray Vallins, a parent of one of our first members, became our treasurer, and has been invaluable to the running of the club, he retired a couple of years ago at the age of 80 but still brings his daughter cycling with us.
Today, we welcome between 50 and 100 cyclists to a session. Our youngest member was three – the oldest, 103 – a man who was blind and used to be a cycle racer, he loved our tandem! We’re an off-road club, as our members need to cycle in a safe environment while they build confidence and cycling skills. Our Tuesday and Saturday sessions are in Finsbury Park, on the athletics track, and the Thursday sessions we started running in 2015 are on the podium at the Emirates stadium.
It was one of many special occasions when Suzie brought her friend to the group; he couldn’t ride a bike at all, and now we cycle on road together to our Saturday session. Suzie still enjoys Pedal Power, regularly attending and working as a volunteer.
I’m always being told what a difference I’ve made, and although it's nice to get the pat on the back and a BEM from the Queen and a Change Maker Award, Pedal Power has become my extended family of wonderful members, parents, support workers, trainers and volunteers.
Jo Roach BEM
Pedal Power Founder & Director