Wheels of Recovery ride 1000km in One Day
Wheels of Recovery, a sports project for Drug and Alcohol services in North and East London has become the salvation of a group of recovering addicts from North London.
On a recent rainy Saturday, an assortment of recovering alcoholics and former substance users, support workers and the general public braved the conditions and set out to ride 1000 k (620 miles) in one day by doing laps around a circuit in Finsbury Park in North London.
The idea was developed by project leader Alistair Mordey: " Talking to groups can only go so far, and it's important to show individuals that recovery is possible but to help them change, you've got to give them something meaningful as a replacement. We introduced cycling as a means of replacing that buzz they had from their addiction, with the buzz from exercise, so encouraging them to change their behaviour and break the addiction cycle. We came up with the 1000k idea to make it a real challenge that actually meant something. It's a tremendous achievement for all of them to have even got on a bike, let alone come here on a rainy Saturday and taken part".
It is important to recognise that for many of the people involved, addiction was previously a way of life, and breaking that cycle of getting a fix or having a drink was rarely a consideration. But the Wheels of Recovery project has helped do just that; as Steve, one of the riders explained:
"It gave me something else to think about other than drugs and alcohol, something to focus on. It's a good form of exercise... and it's certainly better than being sat on a sofa all day"
But don't for one minute be fooled into thinking that Saturday's event was just a sedate pedal around the park. Once they took up the challenge, the riders went for it completely, and trained every week in all weathers. The bikes were bought through a grant from TFL, administered by the London Cycling Campaign; Community Cycling Officer Rosie Tharp, manages this project on behalf of LCC, and rode the event on Saturday. She noticed the commitment from when the project was approved:
"There is actually a tarmac park road in Finsbury Park which forms a mile and half circuit. A regular group has been going up there and doing laps, and they've gone from being very unfit to being very fit, feeling great, and wanting to do more. It's a group activity and it's that group cohesion that's really kept them going and kept them helping each other. Some LCC staff joined them on various training rides, and we know how hard they've trained because they've left us struggling!