Over recent years, a new tradition emerged, the Mayor of Cambridge has cycled to the annual historic May Day village fair at Reach. Councillor Gerri Bird, the Mayor and a wheel chair user, wanted her journey to the fair to be no different.
You Can Bike Too, the all ability cycling project based at Milton Country Park, came to the rescue to enable Gerri to cycle, with their amazing wheelchair-transporter bike. This adaptive bike meant that Gerri would get to Reach Fair in style, escorted by a number of local councillors taking turns to pedal her a few miles each – a real team effort with all parties working together in election week!
Volunteer instructor Peter from You Can Bike Too mapped out the best route for Gerri’s journey. It was a variation on the Cambridge Cycle Campaign's route, as it was important that Gerri and the bike did not block the cycle path. Local company Marshalls provided a pick-up van to bring the bike to the Guildhall ready for the start. Other volunteer instructors from You Can Bike Too, with knowledge of this particular bike, were on-hand throughout the ride, in case of any mishaps and to ensure orderly proceedings.
Gerri told You Can Bike Too, "Some of my predecessors in office had taken part in the Cambridge Cycling Campaign's cycle ride to Reach, and I so badly wanted to follow suit. But how to do it when one is a wheelchair user? And then You Can Bike Too came to my rescue and made something that seemed impossible, possible."
There was a lot of laughter on the journey, including a mishap with a pot-hole. There were a couple of grazed legs - not the Mayor's, but the Mayors’ consort Alan, following an incident with a hedge (see photo of this!).
The Mayor arrived to the Fair safely and on time, met by Angela Sanford and Ruth Brannan from You Can Bike Too, she was delighted with her adventure, "It was a truly energising experience passing through the lovely countryside between the City and the village of Reach, meeting up with so many of the bikers taking part and generally having fun and being part of the cycling community - something I thought I would never be able to do. "
Certificates of achievement were given to the 'Mayor's Team' who had helped to make this happen.
Gerri conducted her official duties, opening the Reach fair and distributing freshly minted pennies to the children. These pennies had had their own adventures on the bicycle journey - starting out in a plastic cup on the knee of the Mayor, and 'jettisoned' in to the ditches several times to be retrieved by a You Can Bike Too instructor. If your penny was not as shiny as you’d hoped, this is the reason!
A few days later Gerri reflected on her journey, telling You Can Bike Too how very much she enjoyed the experience and being a part of something she has never been able to do before. She told us that the countryside looks so much different from a bike and to be out in the fresh air was so exhilarating. Also, the opportunity to interact with people alongside the road, and being cheered on, was something she will always remember.
You Can Bike Too would like to thank Councillor Gerri Bird the Mayor, her consort Alan, the 'back up' team from Marshalls (Christopher Walkinshaw, Terry and Diana) the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, and Milton Country Park for making the 'impossible' possible.
More information about the all ability bike sessions (for those people lacking cycle confidence) that are taking place every Tuesday afternoon 1.30-2.30pm throughout the summer can be found on their website www.youcanbiketoo.org or ring Ruth Brannan the project co-ordinator on 07521 905448