Putting personal growth in motion on the Avantidrome trikes

May 31, 2019

Until you lose the ability to do something – such as riding a bike for example – you often take that ability for granted. So says Aaron Ure, the man who runs the Avantidrome Community Trikes programme at the Cambridge Avantidrome.

The trikes programme is open to anyone who wishes to get their fitness fix on a three-wheeled bike, whatever the reason.

Mr Ure (pictured on the left with his fellow trikers) says some participants have health issues that would make riding a standard bike difficult or impossible. This includes loss of balance, sight or hearing issues, heart or respiratory problems, physical or intellectual challenges; through to those who have no specific health conditions but wish to stay fit as they get older.

“Many of our trikers have been involved in disability services for eons, without finding the one thing they love. Others come along with a mild to moderate disability, and find the freedom to be excited again. And others come because they have not ridden a bike since childhood, and just want to give it a go – this group never seems to leave!”

Having started in 2014 with a handful of participants, Avantidrome Community Trikes now has 250 individual riders on its database, plus many more who come in groups, and it runs 14 sessions a week at the velodrome.

“Our programme varies from rider to rider, depending on their goals. Each session will be set with challenges and obstacles to help improve depth perception, balance and speed. There are some cool games you can play on trikes that really challenge your cycling and balance skills, like soccer and basketball, as well as opportunities to pit yourself against other racers in efforts of speed and endurance.”

In 2019, the Avantidrome Community Trikes crew have enrolled in the Skills Active Cycle Skills Instruction qualification.

Mr Ure says cycling instructors tend to come from cycling families, sporting or club backgrounds, or they just have a lifelong love of cycling. Learning and personal growth is important to the Avantidrome Community Trikes team, he says, just as it’s important to the trikers. Getting qualified builds on their expertise, and helps them to stay informed and up-to-date.

“When I was younger, [coaching and instructing] was a skill you learnt growing up in small town New Zealand. Everyone had a skillset or something they could teach someone else. While that still holds true, in this modern world it is no longer enough to know that you know what you know you know!

“Understanding the reasons and the mechanics behind what we do enables us to better assess our riders’ needs and promote the right techniques for them. The Skills Active on-job training format allows all of us instructors to do the work and achieve the qualification at our own pace and ability.”

A good cycling instructor has some important qualities, Mr Ure says.

“They must be a good listener, someone who is prepared to ‘crash and learn’, and someone who can make you laugh and want to get up and try again after each learning step.

“You also have to be able to shut up and let people fail when they don’t want to listen.”

People who have lost the ability to ride a bike, or perhaps never had it, have the unique gift of truly appreciating something that so many of us take for granted. And the Avantidrome Community Trikes team get to be part of that experience, says Mr Ure.

“Some of our riders are doing things that their families and support people never thought would be possible for them. It gives them back a sense of freedom and control over their lives.

“Everyone has the right to exercise and social engagement which is meaningful for them. That, and the sensation of moving fast under their own steam.

“When you meet any one of our trikers and listen to their story, then look at them at the end of their first session, that will tell you all you need to know about why we leave each day feeling exhausted and fulfilled.”