Cycling superhero

18 October 2017

Tom Fowler on an accessible bikeWhen Tom Fowler came along to Leonard Cheshire’s inclusive cycling project, he did not expect one day he would take part in a triathlon. 

Tom, who lives at Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Gloucestershire House residential home in Cheltenham, could only cycle very short distances at first and would need someone to help steer the bike.

So at Gloucestershire Wheels for All, Tom looked at the many adapted bikes available, and tried out a hand cycle. 

Superhero training

He took part in weekly training sessions at Blackbridge​ Athletics track, at first completing a couple of laps of the 400m circuit. He also joined in the off-road treks through the Forest of Dean.

In August 2017, after just eight months of training, Tom entered the Superhero Tri — a triathlon event allowing teams of disabled and non-disabled people to take part together. 

‘The triathlon was a really good day. I got a medal and I did all of the cycling myself. It felt brilliant!’

Delighted to take part

Tom completed the cycling part, alongside project leader, Mary Clare Faulkner.

‘The Superhero Tri is Tom’s biggest cycling achievement to date and he was delighted to take part.

‘Before he came along to the regular training sessions, he couldn’t find a way to cycle independently. 

‘Now he can do a couple of miles at least.’

— Mary Clare Faulkner

Positive effects

Tom says he gets a great deal out of cycling.

‘I love it. It feels great when I’m cycling.

‘When I get back in my chair afterwards, I can really feel the effects — in a good way. I lost weight too.’

He has also become a keen swimmer, taking advantage of the pool at Gloucestershire House. He enjoys life at the home, which supports up to 36 disabled adults.

‘The people here are great. They are happy. We go out and we have fun.’

Freedom

Anna Peacock, activities coordinator at Gloucestershire House, has also noticed great benefits for Tom from the physical activity.

‘Tom has made huge improvements in his fitness.

‘And his cycling ability has obviously improved massively. He can go for miles now. It’s given him such freedom.’

— Anna Peacock

Find out more about Mary Clare and inclusive cycling in our 100 stories collection.

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