|John, wearing a Tandemonium T-shirt,|
resting on his bike,
with his arms raised and grinning.
My dad loves to tell the story of two-year-old me and my tricycle, on hot summer days in Toronto, Canada: pretty much every day, we'd make the trip to the local ice cream shop, which would take me a good 20 to 30 minutes of pedalling each way, as Dad tells it. I never flagged, visions of what we call French Mint dancing in my head.
Later, I recall a birthday. (I don't remember how old I was, but I know my bike at the time had had training wheels on it in the recent past.) I remember opening all my presents and then my dad saying, "There's one more..." and leading me down to our pantry. I opened the door and there was a brand new shiny, proper big-boy bike, with banana seat, coaster brakes, long hog-style handlebars, and, the pièce de résistance, a stylised fireball all down the chain guard. Life doesn't get better.
I've never really considered myself a cyclist. But being able to get from A to B on a bicycle has been an assumption all my life, and, particularly since moving to Cheltenham, is something I really enjoy. It was only after I started volunteering for a number of charities for the visually impaired, that I started to question many of the assumptions in my life, including my hopping on a bike without a second thought.
It was the combination of hearing Meg and Ed's sadness at having to return their tandem bike to Charlotte's Tandems -- that's how that great charity is able to help so many VI people, and we certainly don't begrudge them that! -- seeing Jayne's happiness at riding the one we were able to borrow from that same charity, and Ines telling me how much she missed the tandem holidays of her youth that got me thinking: why can't we make this happen? With a few tandem bikes, these folks, and other VI people in and around Cheltenham, could enjoy regular days out, with the wind in their hair.
Today, we're much closer to making that a reality. But we still have a ways to go! To make this happen, we need sighted pilots! Even if you're just curious, come along and have a go; you'd be surprised how quickly a tandem begins to feel normal -- and fun! :-) Please do get in touch -- Come grow with us. :-)
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You can read the earlier installments of Tandemonium Tales on our Facebook page.