After a couple of busy years where WATCAC devoted a lot of resources to supporting a Junior Track Program and Tandem Cycling for the Vision-impaired in the regions, the Committee decided it was time for a quiet year to focus on our recreation program. Nice theory, but with one thing and another, it turned into another busy one.
The recreation cycling program of monthly recreation rides and fortnightly club rides was strongly supported throughout the year, bringing cycling opportunities to a wide range of vision-impaired riders of all ages. The highlight of our program this year was a weekend at Rottnest funded largely by WATCAC which included a treasure hunt on the Saturday and a circumnavigation of the island on the Sunday.
WATCAC continued it’s tradition of supporting other groups in their work. This included:
Providing tandems and front-riders to the Senses Foundation for their annual camp. Their clients’ condition is such that they have both vision and hearing impairment. This provided challenges for our front-riders, but once overcome, the ride went without a hitch and it was fantastic to see how much the back riders enjoyed themselves.
Providing tandems and front-riders for a tandem clinic in Bunbury organised by our good friend Gerald. Whilst there were no vision-impaired riders at that clinic, the back riders included some with various degrees of autism. Again there were challenges, but our front-riders were up to it. We managed to get some of the carers involved and onto the front of the tandems which opened their eyes to the possibilities of tandem cycling for them and their charges. The highlight of the day was the re-wiring the trailer’s electrical plug. I know it doesn’t sound much, but you had to be there. The other highlight – for the boys – was the lunch stop, which happened to be at a beach front cafe in front of a ladies’ beach volleyball competition.
Providing a tandem and trailer and front-rider for the Great Bike Hike to Broome. The Great Bike Hike is an initiative of the Fairholme Disability Support Group and is an awareness-raising event designed to support local communities to become welcoming and affirming places for people with disability, mental illness, their families and carers. That is quite a mouthful, but WATCAC stalwart Hab was more concise, “it was a hoot”. Hab rode from Dongara to Carnarvon with vision-impaired rider and long-time WATCAC associate Darren Taylor. Highlights included the many cakes baked by the ladies of the CWA and for Darren at least, Hab’s scenery updates which came every 10km or so, “scrubby bush to the right, scrubby bush to the left…”.
Providing tandems and instruction to other groups to support their activities. These groups included the Guildford Grammar School teachers for their annual charity ride, Therapy Focus staff so they could experience tandem cycling from their clients’ perspectives, and the WA Cycling Federation for their come-and-try day.
WATCAC members on tandems participated in many community events in 2012 including the City of Perth Great Bike Ride, the Freeway Bike Hike, the Tour de Gracetown, the MS Ocean Ride, Bicycling Victoria’s Three Peaks, Bicycling WA’s Five Dams and the Scarborough Glow Ride.
The WATCAC committee continued to advocate for vision-impaired cyclists in various forums including the Department of Sport and Recreation’s cycling seminar and the WA Blind Sports Federation.
WATCAC continued to maintain it’s fleet of tandems with help from member volunteers and the good work of Bikeforce Midland. Controversially, this included the rationalisation of the track tandem fleet and the retirement of a number of older and unsafe bikes. On the other hand, the expansion of the fleet into mountain bikes got under way, with fund-raising activities and quotes being sought through the year with an aim to purchasing two MTB tandems.
Finally, the 2012 AGM saw some new blood joining the Committee – welcome Paul and Jennifer – and also saw the retirement from the Committee of Beau after 7 years service.
All told, 2012 was a good year for WATCAC, bring on 2013.