Cycling IS for everyone
27 January 2022
Stick ‘n’ Step Trustee and former attendee, Ellis Palmer tells us how he got in to cycling and how he wishes he’d given it a go earlier!
Growing up, I used to look at cyclists and think, ‘Man, I wish I wasn’t disabled, and I could do that’. I’d see them in my cab on the way to the office and feel a pang of envy and internalised ableism. I always wanted to cycle but never thought it would be something that I would be able to do.
I’m 27 and my cerebral palsy affects my coordination and balance, both in my upper and lower body. I use a wheelchair to get around on a day-to-day basis. If I try to walk more than a few steps unaided, I’ll fall flat on my face! It was only at the start of lockdown that I realised I wouldn’t have to miss out any longer when I discovered handcycling.
The problem was that when I looked at it online, all I saw were super-fit paraplegics going really fast for long periods of time. I didn't think it would be something my wobbly body and dodgy right hand could do. We’d never considered handcycling, due to my lack of balance and a fear that it’d cause me to be unstable and career into pavements and parked cars, rather than enjoy the open road. There were a few nervy sharp intakes of breath when I tried one out for the first time at DaVinci Mobility two years ago, but now I’ve done 14,000 kilometres.
Cycling is helping to improve my movements and upper-body control when lifting cups or glasses, building upon the skills I learnt and developed at Stick ‘n’ Step as a child and teenager. It’s made me realise that, with the right assistive equipment and support, anything is possible, and it's given me the opportunity to be able to get around my local area safely, easily, and independently.
We are encouraging all Stick ‘n’ Step families to get in touch with Wheels For All, a charity who provide adaptive cycles and specialised training for disabled children and adults, so that the whole family can enjoy cycling together.
“I wish I'd had the opportunity to try out Wheels For All when I was growing up and attending Stick ‘n’ Step, as I would have got in to handcycling a lot sooner.”