Beech Holme Tandem Club
Kingston upon Hull
The Beech Holme Tandem Club provides opportunity for visually impaired back riders to experience the joys, thrills, fitness and social aspects of cycling in our countryside.
The Beech Holme Tandem Club was founded in 1952, when a local blind man met Cliff Pratt, a local cycle retailer. The idea of a tandem club was born and the rest, as they say, is history. The club provides people with sight loss with the opportunity to experience cycling. The club takes its name from, and is based at, Beech Holme Court, the former Blind Institute in Hull.
The club runs weekly Wednesday evening cycle rides throughout the year around Hull, the East Riding villages and sometimes into Lincolnshire, with longer summer evenings taking members further afield. These rides are usually 20-25 mile round trips, taking in a local hostelry for a couple of hours socialising. The rides are well attended with up to 10 or 12 tandems regularly riding out. Sunday rides, up to 50-60 miles are taken monthly as a day trip, incorporating a lunch stop, a local attraction and more socialising.
The club also organises weekends away, riding out to a hotel, staying over a couple of nights and including rides to local attractions in the area before riding back. These weekends are eagerly anticipated and very popular. Our annual overseas cycling holiday is also well supported giving members the opportunity to explore abroad and embrace new cultural experiences. Trips to France Belgium and the Netherlands have been the highlights in recent years.
We hold an annual awards evening, including presentations of the much coveted back rider and front rider of the year trophies and some of our group have recently discovered the joy of walking football.
The club is run by its members who range in age from teenagers to sprightly septuagenarians. Our membership is roughly 50% visually impaired riders and 50% volunteer front riders from all walks of life.. All our members engage with the day to day running of the club, including organising the runs, planning routes, repairing and servicing the tandems, fundraising, promotion of the club and other non cycling activities.
Membership of the club has risen steadily in recent years with an influx of new front riders enabling more back riders to take part in our weekly rides. Our fleet of tandems has also grown, through various fundraising activities, including a sponsored Coast To Coast ride from Morecambe to Bridlington by 20 of our members, and donations from our friends and supporters.
Our members recently pooled their talents to complete the design and construction of a large new garage and workshop for the tandems.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
The club recently obtained funds to purchase a specially adapted, electrically assisted recumbent tandem. This specialist cycle has proved a superb acquisition and has opened up the club and access to cycling to disabled people. One of our newest members is a disabled teenager who can now experience the joys of cycling that many of us take for granted. The machine has also proved popular with some of our regular riders on our hillier routes and for introducing new members who may be less fit or are less confident on a traditional tandem.
Following the success of this specialist machine, our goal this year is to raise funds to purchase an electrically assisted “standard” tandem. If we are successful with our Grassroots Funding application, the monies will be put towards this purchase. Such a machine will broaden the spectrum of people to whom we can offer our activities. It will enable us to encourage new members who may not initially be confident in their ability to cycle over distance.
It will also allow some of our more senior and/or less able bodied back riders to continue riding regularly with the club rather than needing to take the support bus on our more strenuous rides. This will prolong the fitness benefits these members gain through cycling activities.
It will allow less fit members the satisfaction of completing full rides, boosting confidence, motivation and self esteem. It will also have the added benefit of easing the workload for some of our front riders, reducing risk of injury or fatigue.
The membership have agreed that an electrically assisted tandem will be a huge benefit to the club and have already instigated various fundraising activities. Events include a weekend of sponsored rides, totalling over 250 miles, themed to the Hull City of Culture Celebrations to be undertaken by the club members.
We anticipate the electrically assisted tandem will be very popular and will benefit all of our current membership, it will provide service for years to come and will attract new members who may not previously have considered cycling.
"“I have always enjoyed cycling both as a means of transport and just getting about. When my sight deteriorated this suddenly had to end and my life altered radically.
Club members have shown me that life with sight loss is not only possible, but more importantly that it is worth living. The weekly nights out, Sunday rides and trips away mean the opportunity to cycle, feel the wind in my hair, breath fresh air, the sounds and scents of the world around me, pedalling hard up hill and the exhilaration of flying downhill, descriptions of the surroundings by front riders doing that important steering, shared laughter, stories and news as we cycle along.
Beech Holme Tandem Club is important as it gives me exercise in the outdoors, friendship both sighted and visually impaired all of which is so important for both mental and physical health.” - Helen Pook, Club member, back rider."
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