Morrello's Marvels Paracycling Club are making it easier for for more people to access inclusive cycling activities. In May, their members celebrated completing the Carten 100 and are setting new challenges for the future.
For many people, cycling can be a challenge, due to conditions affecting balance such as cerebal palsey. However, Morrello’s Marvels are helping to their members to breakdown barriers and ride together.
The paracyling club was officially established in 2014 after people from the clinic first entered into the Carten100, a 100 mile charity cycle ride from Cardiff to Tenby. This year there are 29 members including the support team.
How it all began
Jakko Brouwers is the clinical director of the Morrello Clinic in Newport, and he first set up the club three years ago: “We meet up with our cycling club every fortnight and we have been preparing for the Carten100 in Tenby since November 2016. The preparation is about people trying different bikes and finding out what is a suitable bike for them and their disability.”
Each member of the team have a different bike set-up to accommodate to their needs. At the moment the club have one standard tandem bike, a three wheeler tandem, a three wheeler bike and two people on a recumbent bike which is a sit down bike with three wheels.
As well as meeting up fortnightly, the club aim to get out once every couple of weeks or once a month with their bikes for family daytrips out.
“We go for a five or six mile ride and some people may want to do two or three loops. Some just want to do it once and that’s fine too,” Jakko continued.
“It’s quite a big organisation to get off the ground as every disabled cyclist will need one or two support cyclists to ride along with them, especially those who are in bikes close to the ground. We need to make it safe so car drivers need to see them because the recumbent bikes are so low that if people look out of the car window they won’t see the riders.”
There are many bikes that are custom made to ensure the rider is fully comfortable. One of the riders, Steve Thomas, who will be riding a three wheeler bike, has had all of the controls moved to the left hand side of the bike as he doesn’t have the use of his right arm.
“We had all of the controls moved to the left, all the gears, all the brakes, everything moved to the left so he can use it,” said Jakko.
"The main thing about the Morrello’s Marvels is getting people together. The whole idea behind the cycling club is to get the people – able bodied but also disabled – together to have a really nice time together. It’s not just all about events, it’s about getting together and having a life and riding together.
“There’s an enormous health benefit to it and members can also try different pieces of kit.”
Another Morrello’s Marvels rider, Ieuan Coombes, said the club offers members a chance to rehabilitate, but it also helps people who used to love cycling get back into it.
“The idea is it gives people the opportunity to enjoy cycling and one of the main things is it goes along with a lot of the patients’ recovery,” he said.
“It’s just grown and grown. This year particularly it’s kind of surprising how quickly things have taken off.”
Ieuan Coombes, 21, who has cerebral palsy, said one of the most pleasing things about taking part in the Carten 100 is that it helps people achieve their own personal targets.
He said: “For me it’s really helped me. I’ll freely admit I went through a stage of being quite lazy with looking after my condition and looking after myself. I suppose the cycling club on a personal level for me has kind of made me think actually I need to get on the bike, quite literally.”
“The social side is just as important as the fitness side,” said Mr Coombes. “It’s important, especially as a lot of people we cater for have been through a lot themselves. If we can offer them a social environment, it might be that someone had a bad week and we can offer them advice and make them feel a bit better.”
More about Morrello's Marvels
Dan Coast, cycling development officer for South Wales, said: “Morrello’s Marvels are just one of a growing number of clubs we have in Wales that promote and support inclusive cycling.
“A just over a year old, the club provides opportunities to take part and learn about the sport of cycling by providing workshops, rides and activities for everyone. They follow a social club model, encouraging their members to take part in sportives and challenge rides raising money for charities across Wales, and just enjoy cycling. They are truly inspiring more people in South Wales to cycle.”
Find your local cycling club at britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder