‘Once I got started, I realised I couldn’t stop’ – Jim

We first met Julian (Jim) McVittie, aged 63, at the beginning of 2021 when he enquired about our trike loan scheme. 

Born and raised in Sheffield, Jim has had numerous different jobs over the years, 

‘You name it and it’s probably been one of my trades, I’m 63 now and I’m still not too sure what I want to do!’ Amongst other things, Jim has been in the building trade, a driving instructor, and for the last 10 years, a self-employed chauffeur. 

When asked about his hobbies, Jim says that he took up bookbinding during the first lockdown which was fascinating and great fun, and… 

“Obviously cycling, which is your ‘fault’ because you got me back into it after 30-odd years of not being able to do it.” 

Over the years Jim has had many health issues, a lot to do with playing contact sports such as Rugby and Squash when he was younger, plus arthritis, which runs through his mother’s side of the family. He has had both knees replaced and says his spine is now in a bad condition. 

“I used to walk a lot, up and down the dales and the moors quite happily, but I haven’t been able to do that for a long time. When I was young (14 or 15) I used to cycle from Nether Edge to Froggatt Edge, I’d pick up a mate in Froggatt, we’d cycle to Little Longston and pick up another friend, and then we’d be out all day cycling around Derbyshire. We’d probably clock up 100 miles in a day not even thinking about it and then I’d cycle all the way back home. In those days we’d go out in the morning and as long as you got home by night-time and had tuppence for an emergency phone call, no one minded what you did. Then of course once I found motorbikes and then motorcars etc the bike went by the wayside, and I’ve not ridden a bike since then until last year.” 

“My balance is not great anymore, so a tricycle seemed a very good idea. I had already been looking at tricycles which is why it immediately caught my interest when the loan scheme came up on Facebook. So, I tried out the Van Raam [Easy Rider] and the rest is history.  It was just amazing, the ability for me to get to the Norfolk Arms from Bents Green where I live and then later, up to Burbage, it was brilliant, it was a revelation in many ways.” 

When asked about the benefits he has experienced since starting cycling again, Jim replied, 

“It’s got the knees working again, it’s strengthened my knee and leg muscles and the core muscles. Overall, it’s a good workout depending on how much effort you put in, but any effort, even a small amount, is better than no effort at all. And the more you do it the easier it becomes. The benefits physically are superb, but the benefits mentally are just getting out in the fresh air, it does you a world of good. There have been times when I’ve thought ‘I can’t be bothered’, but I have gone out and felt a lot better for it. It gets me out and about, and it gets me seeing places that I’ve not seen walking for a long time.  

Compared to when you’re driving, when your cycling, (particularly on the trike when you can slow down without worrying about falling off) you can look around.” 

After borrowing the loan trike for 3 months Jim had well and truly caught the cycling bug and it wasn’t long before he purchased his own Jorvick Mountain Trike. Asked about people’s reaction to seeing him on his trike, Jim said, 

“Adult tricycles are still a new concept to people. If I’m out people will often stop me and ask questions about the trike and kids tell me it’s cool, which I think means good! The more people that get involved at whatever level, the better it is. What you are doing by loaning out the trikes is great because that gets people initially started and of course, once I got started, I realised I couldn’t stop so I had to go and buy my own or I would have been back to square one.” 

When asked about recent memorable rides, Jim replied, 

“I did the virtual London Marathon on the trike. A friend of mine and his mate were doing it to raise money for support dogs in Sheffield. They wanted me to  

ride as a wingman, carrying bottles of water and bits and pieces. I did the whole 26 miles on the trike, all on one battery. It was good, and we raised £8000 so it was well worth doing.” 

Jim has lots of plans for the future, 

“I’m itching to get further afield; I want to be able to transport the trike out to Parsley Hay or the Tissington Trail or even further afield and that will happen because I’m in the process of changing my car so I can put a trike rack on it and then I can get out and go and explore the country.  

I’ve got a couple of Facebook groups that I’m a member of and next year I’m planning to go and meet up with some other members and go and cycle around their routes etc which should be fun.” 

As a result of his connection with SC4A, Jim will be training as a British Cycling ride leader in October and will become one of the first-ever trike cyclists to qualify as a ride leader.  He has been featured in several videos, one of which has over 12,000 views and a small community of appreciative people posting comments and questions. Jim hasn’t just rediscovered cycling (with all its benefits) he has embraced it and is sharing it far and wide! 

When asked what impact SC4A has had on him, Jim answered,  

“Yea, you’ve cost me £2500 to buy a flippin’ trike thank you very much!” 

For more information about our Trike loan scheme follow this link – https://www.sheffieldcycling4all.org/trike-loan/