We were approached by Karen from the Senses Foundation to see if we’d be able to give some of their clients a taste of cycling. The Senses Foundation’s unique service speciality is the provision of services to people who are deafblind, so we were a little apprehensive when we said yes, but if people who can’t see and can’t hear were up for the challenge, then how could we chicken out?
Saturday the 21st of May was a beautiful day for cycling and we’d chosen a great place to meet at Whiteman Park. With 8 of the Senses Foundation’s clients and 7 experienced tandem pilots, the numbers were good.
Our most pressing concern was communication, but after a discussion amongst the pilots we settled on scheme of using a 1-2-3-go tap on the hand or shoulder to communicate the start, and a tap-tap-tap on the hand to signal a stop.
The first exercise was a series of small loops around a car park practicing starting and stopping. There were very few wobbles so much encouraged, we set out into the Park! Having already convinced ourselves that the Park was flat, we promptly found a series of hills. That was a surprise, but all the tandem teams took it in their stride and made them easily.
The next surprise was that we got lost. Well actually, Beau got lost. He was sure there was a loop in the park, but if there was, we weren’t on it. Luckily we did find a bike path which was serendipitous because the winding ride through the trees back to our start was the best bit.
The next highlight was lunch and Karen and her helpers had done us proud with a great BBQ and picnic spread. Everyone enjoyed lunch and everyone had plenty to eat, which some of us came to regret when some enthusiastic souls decided that another lap was in order.
All of the riders, pilots and stokers alike, had a fun day out. Whilst communication was a little difficult, with a little planning and thought it was not insurmountable. For us in WATCAC it was great to meet a group of really enthusiastic people who were determined to have a go. We were fielding enquiries about future cycling opportunities as soon as the bikes stopped so we hope to be seeing more of the Senses group in the future.
Special mentions go to:
- Back rider Mark who probably had the most trouble, but gamely rode on
- Back riders Lachlan, Roberto and Eddie who really wanted to race
- Back rider Janine who is already plotting to ride the Gibb River Road
- Danielle and Lucy – both sighted – who did really well piloting a tandem for the first time
- Tim who did a great job signing
- Karen and her crew for the great food and for organising the Senses side
- Hab Collier and Adriana Lepore for organising the WATCAC side
- Front riders Chris, Paul, Jake, Debbie, Jennifer and Beau for volunteering and making such a great event possible