Santa’s Coming To Town (On a Raleigh Chopper!)

Well it’s been a great week for the soul. Friday saw the start of an immense challenge by the boys of Cyclists Fighting Cancer to ride from Coast to Coast (from Liverpool to Grimsby). In itself, that shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, but then factor in that they are doing it in full Santa outfits, visiting childrens’ hospitals along the way to bring good cheer and drop of some chocolate, and above all doing it on 3 speed equiped Raleigh Choppers!

Just stop there to think about it for a second, 3 gears, one wheel bigger than the other, an uncomfortable seat, bullhorn handlebars making you sit bolt upright and catching the wind. When I caught up with them at the National Cycling Center, their riding positions made me and my biomechanical/sports rehabilitation brain have a minor meltdown!

But as I write this, they are almost there, just one more leg left to reach the east-coast. A massive effort chaps, I am very proud of you all. There was even part of me that wished I could have got a chopper of my own and joined in. It was a great to see and hear all the support the Santas were getting as they rode through Manchester too (they told me the support had been as good all the way from Liverpool too!). There was a constant wave of beeping horns and cheering pedestrians as they pounded the pedals (which incidentally are attached to ridiculously short 152mm cranks!).

I know a highlight of the ride was the ability to ride a lap of the Velodrome, so a big thank you to all the staff at the NCC, and also to the GB Sprint squad who cheered the boys on and even gave them the bell on the final lap! – They also managed to see how it was really done when Matt Crampton gave us a demo of a motor chase effort over 500m. He was truly flying.

Earlier in the week I also had the opportunity to deliver my first bicycle on behalf of the same charity ( to a young person fighting cancer right now. It was so rewarding to be able to provide them with a bike which allows them to start getting stronger again and feeling the wind in your face powered under your own steam. I also feel perversely lucky (and I know the charity founder Mike will agree with me on this), that I know how that feels to get back on your bike and how much of a big deal it can be to just be able to do a small thing which we all take for granted. The bike I delivered this week was adapted using a great piece of engineering. We fitted it with an adjustable crank shortener, which means that because the patient has restricted movement in their leg it allows us to tailor one crank arm to rotate in smaller circles allowing them to gradually increase the turning moment as their range of movement returns. It was a great opportunity for me to use my bike fitting and rehab skills for something really important and coming at it from a different angle rather than trying to help people get extra power or improve their time-trialling position.

Right, I had better get going, Manchester is being assaulted by a downpour of biblical proportions, but there is still much to do on a rainy Sunday. All the best everyone.


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