K977: how Leanne Owen uses cycling to raise awareness & find a cure for Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a degenerative condition affecting the nervous system. Symptoms start when the brain can’t make enough dopamine to control movement properly and there are three main kinds: tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness). However, there are many other symptoms and PD manifests differently in each of the 7-10 million people living with it worldwide.

There has been medical research into the strange relationship between cycling and PD symptoms for some time. The amazing video below shows how a PD patient with advanced frozen gait can cycle perfectly, suggesting that the physical and neurological processes that allow us to balance whilst riding a bike are separate to those that help us to walk independently.

There’s lots of information online about medical research into the effects of cycling on PD symptoms – simply search ‘Parkinson’s cycling research’ for a reading list to get you started. Leanne’s amazing story, though, is a compelling account of one individual’s experience of living with PD and using cycling as a way to control symptoms and raise awareness at the same time as raising funds for research to find a cure.

Leanne was a watch manager in the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, making life-saving decisions at fires, road accidents and other emergencies until she was forced to retire due to PD symptoms in 2011 at the age of 42.

Leanne became heavily involved in Parkinson’s UK, raising funds through sponsored walks, events, a sky dive – and bike rides. Leanne rode London to Paris, the Humber 108 and her very own 477-mile tour of all the Parkinson’s Support Groups in Yorkshire and Humberside.

With her symptoms advancing, Leanne decided she had one last epic ride in her. Not one to make life easy for herself, she planned a 977-mile circuit round the UK visiting all of the regional Parkinson’s UK support groups. The aim is to raise £20,000 and wider awareness through social media and press coverage.

Over seven months of training Leanne got into the best shape of her life and felt the symptoms slowing as she clocked up thousands of miles. But there was the cruellest of twists in the tale.

Following a successful training trip to Mallorca, Leanne was riding near Doncaster when she spotted a pothole as she cornered in a tight country lane. The dappled shade meant that she didn’t see the gravel next to it, lost traction and fell hard, sustaining a serious head injury despite her helmet.

As Leanne says, there is no way of articulating what she felt when she understood the seriousness of her injuries: ‘There is no point in trying to communicate my disappointment, there are no words.’

But they’re made of strong stuff in Yorkshire. Leanne continues: ‘It’s been a tough few weeks but my time in the West Yorkshire Fire Service taught me to always have a plan B.’ The rest of the K977 Team will still complete the challenge between 28 June and 8 July and Leanne will ride in the support car. ‘Between us we still raise awareness and together we will reach our total of £20,000.’

Not only is Leanne adamant that her K977 Challenge will go ahead, she’s also targeting a return to the saddle. If her recovery goes well, she wants to ride Pedal for Parkinson’s unique two-day sportive in September, the BOXCAM200.

Find out more about her incredible story here – K977 is well and truly under way – and support her heroic fundraising efforts here.

k977
The K977 at the start in Leeds on 28 June

 

You can find out more about PD and the great work of Parkinson’s UK here and check out their fantastic series of fundraising rides on the Pedal for Parkinson’s website here (we’ll have a post about these soon).

You can also see Enzo Cilenti talking about BOXCAM200 here:

8 Times the Bike Has Revolutionised the World

From infrastructure to equality, media to innovation, bikes have had a massive influence on every aspect of our society. Proviz has rounded up eight of the most profound and memorable ways in which bikes have changed our lives and our outlook.

Turning the Wheels of Feminism1. Turning the Wheels of Feminism

The last decade of the 19th century was a golden age for the bike, with its popularity rising among men and women alike. Indeed, the introduction of the ‘safety’ bike – chain-driven with equal-sized wheels – coincided with the rise in feminism and helped to break down gender barriers, although clothing presented something of a problem. Victorian dress was notoriously restrictive and in 1881 the Society for Rational Dress was formed in London, opposing tight corsets, high heels and impractical skirts. Not everyone approved of the dress or the bike riding, but in 1893 Tessie Reynolds made history by cycling from Brighton to London in 8.5 hours wearing pantaloons, a shirt and coat. More women followed suit, with divided skirts that allowed for easier mount and dismount growing in popularity. And as American women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony said in an interview with the New York Sunday World in 1896: “I think [bicycling] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world…the moment she takes her seat, she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle…”

Tackling Poverty through Empowerment2. Tackling Poverty through Empowerment

Set up in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, World Bicycle Relief now helps poor, widely dispersed communities in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia access affordable transport in the shape of its £95 Buffalo Bicycle. For the same cost as five large takeaway pizzas, each specially designed, locally assembled bike provides a child with a fast, safe means of getting to and from school. Indeed, since its inception, WBR has helped 126,104 students stay in education and says that every bike it donates has an impact on five people’s lives.

There is evidence to demonstrate that providing schoolgirls with bicycles in this way greatly empowers young girls, resulting in a positive impact on pregnancy rates. WBR is now working on a longitudinal study to assess this evidence more fully.

“The Buffalo Bicycle is the Ford of bicycles,” says Alec Seaman, World Bicycle Relief’s development director, UK. “It’s basically the simplest design possible, which helps ensure less can go wrong and spare parts are both readily available and affordable, which makes our supply chain more cost effective and helps us to ensure the availability of low cost parts.”

World War Bike Batallions3. World War Bicycle Battalions

The British army was using volunteer cycle units as far back as early as the 1880s, typically for reconnaissance and communication since a bicycle tended to be lighter, quieter and lower maintenance than a horse. By the start of the First World War, some 14 cyclist battalions had been raised and were initially deemed so important to the home front effort that none served overseas. In 1915, the battalions became the Army Cyclist Corps and recruitment posters went up squarely aimed at cycling fans and those with a passion for all things mechanical. Eventually some battalions were sent abroad and one particular group carried out a daring raid on German ammunition wagons. The British were not the only ones to use bicycles in wartime. In 1937, Japan deployed around 50,000 bicycle troops in its invasion of China and most Polish infantry divisions in the Second World War included a company of bicycle-mounted scouts. During the Vietnam War bicycles reinforced to carry loads of up to 200 kilograms were integral in moving North Vietnamese supplies along secret jungle trails.

E.T. – The Modern Legend4. E. T. – The Modern Legend

No other film has quite ever made kids want to get out on their bikes like E.T. did. BMX cycling was all the rage in the early 1980s and director Steven Spielberg brought in eight fully-grown stunt riders to film the iconic scene in which Elliot, E.T. and friends are chased by the police. All of the stunts were carried out on Kuwahara BMX bikes – made in Osaka, Japan. When one of Spielberg’s assistants called the company to order 40 bikes, the person on the other end thought it was a joke and hung up. Luckily, the assistant persisted and E.T. bicycles would eventually become a huge sales hit. Universal Studios signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Kuwahara and the US distributor Everything Bicycles, owned by Howie Cohen. After the film was released Kuwahara mass-produced three types of E.T. bike and Cohen ended up taking orders for Elliott’s Model 3003 from more than 1,000 retailers. Among those inspired by what they saw on the big screen was Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.

Roads as We Know Them5. Roads as We Know Them

You’d be forgiven for thinking that smooth roads owe their existence to the rise in car use, but, it was, in fact, down to the growing popularity of the bike throughout the 19th Century. In the UK, the railway had largely killed off the coaching trade, leaving British roads to crumble. However, the growing use of bicycles, particularly among the working class, led to an exodus from cities out into the suburbs. Cyclists began to travel longer distances and it was the UK’s Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) that first lobbied for safer roads and improved infrastructure. According to the Department of Transport for every mile of UK motorway there are 95 miles that were originally intended for non-motorised forms of transport, like the bike. By the 1950s, the car had become king of the road, but with renewed popularity in cycling over the past decade, coupled with concerns over air pollution and congestion, more and more cities are looking to create bike-friendly environments. 

Power of Flight6. The Power of Flight

Everyone knows that the Wright brothers – Orville and Wilbur – were pioneers in aviation but they were, in fact, bicycle men first, setting up a successful repair, rental and sales business in 1892. While Wilbur was known for his love of long treks into the countryside, Orville was said to be a racer at heart. Their passion for two wheels lies at the heart of their flying experiments, using the profits from the Wright Cycle Company to finance their work. Bicycle parts also featured in some of the early experiments, such as in 1901 when they hacked a St Claire bicycle to study airfoil design. They also built a six-foot wind tunnel at one of their six repair shops and drew on several important cycling principles when designing their aeroplane, such as the importance of balance, the need for strong yet light structures and the chain and sprocket transmission system that enabled propulsion. The Wrights weren’t the only aviation pioneers with a passion for the pedals – Germany’s Otto Lilienthal was a cycling fan while American Glenn Curtiss also owned a bike shop and was a keen racer.

Deliveroo graphic - riders with burgers on their back7. Deliveroo!

The idea of using bikes to deliver things is nothing new – indeed almost as soon as the pedal-powered velocipede was introduced in the 1860s people began to ferry packages about. In the Second World War, it wasn’t uncommon to see lads that were too young for active service to become bicycle messengers, running important messages between air raid and civil defence teams. In the 1980s the bike courier was a ubiquitous sight on London’s streets and even now a courier can find themselves delivering anything from hard copies of legal documents to blood samples. But, in the 21st century it’s all about delivering food. More specifically, the rise of Deliveroo, set up in 2013, has radically changed the way in which we order our good old-fashioned Friday night takeaway. With its distinctive turquoise branding, the company says it has helped restaurants that partner with it increase their revenue by up to 30% while cutting delivery time by 20%.

Bike share revolution8. The Bike Share Revolution

Londoners fell in love with the ‘Boris Bike’ almost as soon as the bike sharing scheme was launched in 2010, with one million journeys recorded in a matter of months. But bike sharing is not a new concept. The first recorded scheme dates back to 1965 and the Dutch White Bicycle plan. Devised by Luud Schimmelpenninck, part of the Provo anarchist movement, which encouraged radical news ways of living, 50 white bikes were distributed – unlocked – around Amsterdam for anyone’s use. The only problem was that leaving a bike unlocked was a criminal offence, and police soon cracked down. Provo retaliated by adding locks and painting the code on the frame, but even so, the scheme never really took off. Today, it is regarded the seed from which all other bike share programmes grew, including the first coin deposit system launched in 1991 in Denmark. Today, more than 1,000 cities have some sort of shared cycle programme, with an increasing number now investing in the dockless variety, which can be found and unlocked using a smartphone.

 

PLUS: SOME MORE BIKE RELATED FACTS AND STATS

  • The bike is 201 years old this year.
  • According to Science Daily, the use of shared bicycle systems across 12 cities in Europe avoids 5 deaths and saves 18 million euros per year in each of those cities.
  • Mass cycling could save the NHS £17bn in 20 years, cut 500 road deaths a year and reduce smog, says a study for British Cycling.
  • In 1890 a bicycle cost about half the annual salary of a US factory worker – five years later it cost just a few weeks’ wages.
  • The first modern bicycle was called the ‘safety’ (think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) and was invented in England in 1885.
  • At the Stanley bicycle show in 1895 200 firms displayed 3,000 models.

 

Be part of the ride revolution and sign up for Cycle September, our biggest event of the year > lovetoride.net

Lord Mayor Receives Mayoral Bicycle Ahead of Sheffield Charity Ride

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid has taken his first ride on his new mayoral bike and vowed to encourage his fellow citizens to get on their bikes too.

“There are hundreds of benefits of cycling. It makes people healthy, it reduces air pollution but most importantly it just gets people active. It’s good for your wellbeing, for your mental health, and it gives you a different perspective.”

Cllr Magid has joined over 2,200 other local people on the free South Yorkshire Love to Ride cycling promotion scheme, and was presented with his new bike by Love to Ride supporter Russell Cutts of Russell’s Bicycle Shed.

Lord Mayor Magid Magid with his new mayoral bike presented by Russell Cutts of Russell's Bicycle Shed as part of South Yorkshire's Love to Ride programme for 2018

“Our new Lord Mayor is aiming to modernise the title, and what better way than using a bike for some of his everyday travel?” said Russell.

“We want to help Sheffield grow as a cycling city, and hope many more city leaders will be joining Love to Ride and leading by example by riding their bikes this year too.”

As well as riding on the Sheffield to the Somme charity ride,  the Lord Mayor intends to use his bike for short journeys during his year of office, and said he believes a modern bicycle fits in well with his desire to bring the role into the 21st century.

He said: “Riding a bike is not something of the past, it’s the future. If everyone was riding bikes it would transform the whole city. If you look at all the other major cities around the world they’re all getting people to ride bikes because they understand that’s the way things are moving forward.”

For more information and to register, visit: lovetoride.net
Lord Mayor Magid Magid with his new mayoral bike presented by Russell Cutts of Russell's Bicycle Shed as part of South Yorkshire's Love to Ride programme for 2018: Cllr Magid with fellow riders ready for the Sheffield to the Somme charity ride starting on the 20th June to raise money for the Sheffield Memorial Park dedicated to the Sheffield PALS regiments
Cllr Magid with fellow riders ready for the Sheffield to the Somme charity ride starting on the 20th June to raise money for the Sheffield Memorial Park dedicated to the Sheffield PALS regiments

Spring into the saddle for 2018

Screenshot 2018-05-03 08.54.20

Spring has finally sprung with the arrival of consistently milder weather – with sunshine very much the theme this bank holiday weekend. The ‘cycling season’ – when people who aren’t all-weather riders are up for getting on their bikes – is usually about March-October, but global weirding has definitely delayed things over the last two months…

But it hasn’t stopped us having a successful start to the year at Love to Ride:

  • Despite the Beasts from the East, thousands of people jumped on their bikes in March for Ride to Work Week, when we also launched our new Boxed Bike Breakfasts in partnership with VitaLife Health. We got fantastic feedback for these – they’re available here and we’ll be re-launching them with a summery twist soon!
  • UniCycle – a pilot with NUS Sustainability funded by the Department for Transport – has been a huge success, with eight universities trialing new ways to get more students and staff on bikes
  • We’ve launched our new Workplaces offer, allowing organisations to access our platform and programmes to unlock the benefits of cycling for their staff (find out more here)

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 17.34.57

There’s lots more in the pipeline to celebrate, reward and encourage cycling in 2018:

  • We’re excited to announce that our flagship Cycle September programme is going global! For the first time we’ll have organisations from around the world participating in our unique workplace cycle challenge format. The movement to get more people on bikes is growing globally and we’re proud to be the first platform to give it the potential to reach into every workplace worldwide
  • World Bike Day was recently announced by the UN to acknowledge and celebrate the capacity of the humble bicycle to solve so many 21st-century problems. We’ll be marking the occasion with a global giveaway and campaign, so make sure you connect with us on social media to get involved (we’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
  • It’s Bike Week in the UK from 9-17 June – we’re teaming up with Cycling UK to make sure all our members know about local events and give away great prizes for riding and encouraging others

Screenshot 2018-05-03 09.00.51

The benefits of biking to businesses are huge: happier, healthier, wealthier staff, reduced sickness absence and need for parking, greater productivity and connection to the local community, reduced National Insurance Contributions through the Cycle to Work Scheme and significantly reduced carbon emissions. Workplaces can unlock all of these benefits – and many more – by joining their local Love to Ride programme or funding their own low-cost site to access our events.

We’re inviting every workplace to saddle up and join us for the ride – get in touch if you’d like to know more: hello@lovetoride.org

Sheffield Urban CX > A Unique Series For All Abilities

Love to Ride South Yorkshire is delighted to be supporting the fantastic Sheffield Urban CX series this year. Find out more – and how you can win a series entry – below.

The series ran for the first time in 2017, with exciting races at eye-catching locations like Park Hill flats, an iconic example of Brutalist architecture and Europe’s largest listed building. This year’s series kicks off with Round 1 at Kelham Island Museum, with cobbled lanes and industrial hardware (like the huge Bessemer Converter, below) incorporated into the course, on Saturday 5 May.

_AOP2987

The idea behind the series is to use Sheffield’s unique urban environment as a setting for cyclo-cross racing, which typically involves short courses where riders dismount and carry their bikes over, through or round obstacles like deep mud, wet grass and steep hills. At Sheffield Urban CX races expect these to be replaced by steps, cobbles and wooden berms.

PHCX 2 credit_ FuttFuttFuttPhotgraphy.com

The series is designed to be inclusive and fun for all. Riders of all abilities are welcome to enter and spectators can enjoy excellent local food and drink, the superb locations – and of course some exciting racing!

PHCX 7 credit _ David Bocking

Adam Simmonite tells us how Sheffield Urban CX came about: ‘We wanted to do something a bit different to combine Sheffield’s status as The Outdoor City with its unique industrial heritage. There are iconic locations like Park Hill and Kelham Island that are brilliant venues for this kind of exciting, high-octane racing. We’re really excited about our pop-up events this year too – at Our Cow Molly during Bike Week and a hillclimb at Park Hill in July – and are delighted to have teamed up with Love to Ride South Yorkshire. Sheffield Urban CX is all about fostering a friendly cycling community and Love to Ride are helping to do just that across South Yorkshire.’

Love to Ride South Yorkshire will be at every race of the series, so come along and say hello to find out how you can join us to get more people on bikes. It’s also worth noting that the Our Cow Molly pop-up ride on 17 June and Round #3 at the Olympic Legacy Park fall during Love to Ride South Yorkshire events (Bike Week and Cycle September), so contestants will be in with extra chances to win prizes – as will any spectators who register at lovetoride.net and log a ride!

 

To launch our partnership, we will be giving away two Sheffield Urban CX series entries (worth £59 each, plus a tote bag and t-shirt for a lucky runner-up) for the best photos we get on the theme of urban cycling. Either tweet your photo tagging @LovetoRide_ and @SheffUrbanCX, share it on the Love to Ride Facebook page or email it to support@lovetoride.org – here’s a corker from our recent Beast from the East photo competition for some inspiration:

thats the spirit