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Beaming with joy, with the wind in their faces, people of all ages speed around the track at Finsbury Park

Beaming with joy, with the wind in their faces, people of all ages speed around the track at Finsbury Park

Some are on two wheels, others three or four. Some are in tandems, others are on hand-powered bikes. At the side of the track, volunteers cheer them on.

This is Pedal Power, a cycling group for people with disabilities – although everyone is welcome. It was set up by Jo Roach in 2004 using money she raised through afternoon tea parties. Jo, whose daughter has learning difficulties, says: “There was no club that catered for my daughter’s needs so specialists said ‘you’ll have to set one up’. I was a qualified cycle instructor, so I thought ‘why not?’.”

She laughs: “The minutes from the first meeting said ‘Jo is prepared to give 18 months’. 13 years later, I’m still here.” Finsbury Park Pedal Power gets around 90 visitors a session. There are bikes for people who can’t pedal, bikes you can attach a wheelchair to and bikes for two people. They play host to a young college group and Pedal Power has even had a 103-year-old blind man at sessions.

Jo says: “If someone can’t pedal, we just put them in with someone else. They get the sensation of being out in the park with the wind against their face. Some bang on their wheelchairs to make you go faster. “For others it’s huge fun, but the main thing is freedom. They can get on a bike, lose their support worker and get a bit of independence.” Pedal Power is a joint scheme across Haringey, Islington and Hackney.  They also hold sessions at the Emirates Stadium and are expanding into other sports, with tennis sessions already set up. Their team of volunteers at Finsbury Park includes engineers, welcome desk workers and trainers, but more help is always welcome. Carer Omar Mostafa says the team are so welcoming they look after carers as well as the riders. “The volunteers here always have a smile. They do it with love. “I have a friend who is lonely. He’s 80. Jo said ‘bring him along’. She has a heart of gold. This really is a place for everyone.”

This article featured in June 2017 edition of the Haringey People

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