We truly enjoyed watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012 on the BBC iPlayer. GLUE decided to vote for Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah, who represent the two sports most accessible to everyone from all walks of life. And of course, David Weir.
Earlier today, after finishing my usual round around Richmond Park at the weekend, I stopped at the Roehampton Gate for a pee break. And I bumped into this familiar figure at the park, The Gentleman Recumbent Cyclist.
We have spotted him several times before. Once, our other editor saw him going up one of the bastard hills. Now, scaling up those hills is not all beds of roses for us able-bodied folks. I still hate cycling up them. But The Gentleman Recumbent Cyclist did it with hand-cycling. Lying down.
“How on earth can you cycle in that?” I asked as I walked past him in the car park.
“You use your hand,” he said. “Really?” I said, and crouched next to him to examine the bike closely.
“I’m paraplegic,” he explained. “Oh sorry,” I countered. He smiled, shrugged it off and told me he is starting to race this season. We chatted about the recumbent bicycle: it looks like a unicycle. A horizontal unicycle. I asked where the lights were. “Behind my head,” he said. There was a rear-view mirror.”That’s handy,” I said, “We could have that on our bike.”
Our Gentleman Recumbent Cyclist can go up to 24 mph when racing with one of these models. Prices of recumbent bicycles vary, but this model cost our cyclist a cool £4,000.
It was getting late, so The Gentleman Recumbent Cyclist excused himself to go home before it gets dark.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Alan,” he said. We shook hands.
And off he went.
Hand cycling, at 24 mph. Well, I really have no excuse for not doing better with my cycling then.
Some useful websites for special needs cyclists: