Janet and Savita on a tandem

Our 2020 Tandem Story

When you have little or no vision, there can be many barriers to exercise as it can be difficult to learn  physical movements without being able to emulate others and navigating can be dangerous and challenging. This is especially prevalent when it comes to cycling as it often involves exercising in public and using roads.

One solution to make cycling accessible is to ride a tandem. Where the visually impaired person riders as the stoker (on the back) and a sighted person rides as the pilot (on the front). This means that the pilot can take control of road use, breaking turning and navigation which allow the stoker to focus on pedalling and enjoying themself.

As any tandem riders out there will know. by no means does having two riders on a cycle make it any easier, and it can be rather nerve wracking being on the back, not able to see where you are going, and being at the mercy of the steering and braking of the person in front of you. Tandem riding also involves a lot of communication between the pilot and stoker to signify corners, hills, bumps, gear changes and braking.

At OAB, we are passionate about facilitating our clients desires to exercise and participate in activities such as cycling. In 2019 we were donated a tandem which was generously fixed up and made safe by our client Andy Ellis.

Unfortunately at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, whilst staff were working from home, our storage shed was broken into and our tandem was stolen. We were devastated by this as we had worked so hard to get the tandem up to scratch and able to go out before the pandemic hit and stifled our plans. So we reached out to social media with pictures of the tandem in the hope that someone would have seen it and would be able to help us get it back. Stolen tandem pictured below.

The tandem that was stolen

After being seen by more than 14500 people across our social media channels we still had no luck locating our tandem. However, we were contacted by many members of the public wishing to donate tandems and help us out. We have now received two tandems and are awaiting two more once we can reopen, including one appropriate for some of our younger clients.

This generosity spurred us on and has made us more determined to make sure we have tandems to offer to blind and visually impaired people in Oxfordshire. To further the progress of this initiative we have secured funding from Cycling UK Oxfordshire to help with parts for our tandems and maintenance equipment and a grant for £1500 from the Screwfix Foundation which will allow us to make vital security upgrades at our resource centre and ensure that this does not happen again.

To celebrate how things have turned around for our tandem project and to get some engagement in tandem cycling, OAB clients, volunteers and staff will be getting involved in a tandem cycling fundraiser in Spring 2021 at the Wheels For All session at Horspath Athletics Track. On this day participants will be taking part in their own challenges to raise money for OAB.

So far we have signed up:

  • Janet Johnson (OAB Volunteer and Pilot)
  • Savita Shah (OAB client and Stoker)
  • Yohann Adam (OAB volunteer and Pilot)
  • Nathan Tree (OAB Staff and Stoker)

If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch by calling 01865 725595 or emailing nathantree@oxeyes.org.uk.

You can also sponsor our team at https://www.justgiving.com/team/OAB.

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