Nicky – from cycling to her first triathlon
Nicky is 56 and has been cycling with the Visually Impaired Pedallers (VIPs) run by Sheffield Cycling 4 All (SC4A) 34 times and counting. Nicky identifies as a Disabled person with long-term health condition. ‘I am visually impaired from birth and am hard of hearing. My hearing loss started about 20 years ago’.
Born and bred in Sheffield she lives with her husband Frank, and volunteers at Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB) as a phone befriender. Nicky enjoys reading, cycling, horse riding, walking, swimming, and baseball. She reads all sorts, crime (as long as it turns out nice in the end), science fiction and true stories.
‘I love physical activity, 10 years ago I weighed 12 stone, and I am determined not to put that weight back on’.
Nicky heard about SC4A through SRSB. 6 years before that Frank had found SC4A on the internet. ‘You [SC4A] had one tandem which was fine, but we both had guide dogs and weren’t sure if they would get looked after.’
When SRSB approached SC4A to see if they could come cycling they offered transport from their Mappin Street centre, arranged additional staff to look after dogs, and provided extra riders, so it became easier for Nicky and others to come cycling without worry. SC4A has now taken over this role and has a minimum of two people available to support any Visually Impaired riders that come.
‘I started on the Green speed trike (above) because I like the way it steers and that I don’t have to look over the handlebars, and as it is low to the ground I can see the floor. I can’t ride an Easyrider, the handlebars are too ‘up’. Trial and error, I tried all the trikes and settled on the Green speed. When I am on a Green speed I cycle with my friend Gloria, following her as she has better eyesight, but my preference is a tandem’.
‘Because of riding on the tandem here, it made me think how can I use it to do other things, so I decided on a triathlon! When I met Annette [Activities Coordinator at SRSB, pictured above with Nicky], I said I want to do a triathlon, and she said ‘we can do that’.
Annette said, ‘The can-do attitude at SC4A is great, and fits so well with the SRSB ethos of helping visually impaired people to achieve more than they think is possible. Guiding Nicky through her first triathlon was a great experience, and SC4A gave me the confidence to pilot a tandem safely for her. Our next ambition is to get out of the park on the tandems and ride with a group on more adventurous rides.’
Nicky: ‘I’d like to join another cycling group, so I can do more riding on a tandem. I feel like everyone else that goes cycling. Like running, I can do it, I am just like everyone else. I am not looked at differently. I don’t need to be able to see, we can go as fast as we want, and I like going fast.’
When asked if the VIPs sessions were right for Nicky she said ‘Yes because it’s the only time I can get on a tandem and ride. Exercise is very important to me, and being with people. I talk to everyone [at the cycling sessions], it’s just one of the things I like about cycling. It’s one of the reasons I like coming, I get to talk to various people.’ The park is also great place to cycle daytime on a weekday because it is quiet so we are not too worried about hitting things. Nicky would come to any of our pan-disability sessions as long as there are tandems!
‘I feel fitter than I was, don’t get out of breath when I walk, and my legs getting thinner’
Nicky would like a tandem group for the visually impaired, so could go further afield. We are working on it!