Cycling is an enjoyable and rewarding activity for people of all ages and abilities. It encourages you to spend more time outdoors, boosts mental and physical fitness and is loads of fun, to name just a few of the benefits!
Thanks to these benefits, cycling is a particularly good activity for people with disabilities. As the interest in inclusive cycling grows, so too does the availability of adaptive bikes and accessible cycling activities.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we offer a range of exciting adventure activities for people with disabilities, and cycling is among just one of the experiences our guests can get stuck into.
Find out everything you need to know about accessible bike riding.
What is Accessible Cycling?
This form of cycling allows people with a range of disabilities to experience the activity to the fullest extent and on their own terms.
Any kind of accessible activity is about ensuring everyone, no matter their ability or circumstance, feels comfortable and able to participate. This is often achieved with adaptive equipment like the adaptive bikes used for accessible cycling.
There are several kinds of adaptive bicycles that help cater to the needs of different individuals.
What Types of Accessible Bikes are Available?
The range of different adaptive bikes means that anyone can find something to fit their requirements.
Adaptive Low Step & Electric Bikes
These are standard pedal bikes with some modifications that help the user with pedalling or getting on and off the bike.
Low step bicycles have a low frame, which can be helpful for people who have limited movement and find it challenging to get their leg over a regular frame. This makes mounting and dismounting easier for anyone with reduced flexibility or mobility. Additional cranks and extensions can be added to accommodate different individuals.
Electric bikes have also grown in popularity in recent years. While we don’t currently have any in the fleet here at Calvert Exmoor, they can be used to help people who cannot comfortably do physical exercise for sustained periods, supporting them as they cycle further distances.
Accessible Trikes & Tricycles for People with Disabilities
Tricycles function like a standard bike but have three wheels rather than two for a heightened sense of stability.
This makes them especially useful for people who need more support when it comes to balance and coordination, as the third wheel reduces the chance of wobbling and falling over.
Regular pedal tricycles can also be adapted to become handcycles to suit the needs of each individual.
Handcycles for People with Disabilities
Accessible handcycle bikes are powered by pedals that are moved by the hands rather than the feet. These pedals power and steer the bike. You can find three or four-wheeled models to help with balance.
These kinds of accessible bicycles are popular choices for people with little to no lower body mobility and those that want to work on increasing upper body strength.
Handcycles are often recumbent bikes but are also available in a range of styles.
Recumbent Bikes for People with Disabilities
An accessible recumbent bike allows the user to recline slightly in the chair, sitting further back rather than leaning forward over the handles.
This offers further support to the back and puts less strain on the rider’s knees and hip joints, offering a more comfortable experience.
Some recumbent bikes are much like standard two-wheel bicycles, just with larger reclined seats and a higher pedal position setting them apart. However, you can also get accessible recumbent bikes that are closer to the ground, which allows for even greater accessibility and support with balance.
Tandem Bicycles & Side-By-Side Bikes for People with Disabilities
As the name suggests, bikes that have a larger frame and multiple seats allow two (or more) people to cycle together.
These bikes can be especially useful for people with visual impairments and sensory or emotional disabilities who may need support or guidance when it comes to steering or pedalling.
Side-by-side bikes are available with three and four wheels and allow users to ride alongside each other.
Wheelchair Accessible Bikes
Wheelchair users may feel that riding a bike is not possible for them, but this is just not the case with the help of wheelchair cycles.
These adaptive bikes have handles, saddles and pedals at the back, allowing one of two people to cycle and steer, while the front houses a seat for wheelchair users to sit in or a platform that their wheelchair can sit on.
Wheelchair bikes allow anyone with little or no mobility to experience the thrill of cycling, enjoying the ride with a friend or family member on the cycle behind them.
The Benefits of Accessible Cycling
Because of the perceived and real barriers in society, many people with disabilities may feel like they cannot go bike riding or may have limited opportunities to exercise, especially when doing adventure activities.
This lack of opportunities can lead to feelings of isolation and other issues with mental health as well as physical health.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’ve seen the advantages of accessible cycling first-hand and know what a positive impact it can have. Discover how cycling can be beneficial for children and adults with disabilities.
Focus & Repetition
For some, the process of simply getting on and off a bike may pose a challenge. Others may struggle to concentrate fully on the task of cycling.
Trying something new or challenging offers a fantastic opportunity to learn and develop. And if you don’t know how to ride a bike or are having to re-learn, there are some great skills you’ll pick up along the way, notably, determination.
Developing new skills can be incredibly rewarding and motivational. Once you’ve got to grips with your bike of choice, cycling can become a therapeutic and relaxing experience.
If you’re interested in building on your new outdoorsy skills, why not find out more about orienteering with a disability? It’s another activity that will encourage you to develop concentration and appreciation of the natural world.
Supporting Physical Health
As cycling encourages you to move and get energetic, there are a host of physical benefits to be enjoyed, including:
- Improving balance
- Providing gentle exercise without strain
- Supporting strength and overall fitness
- Helping regulate weight and stabilise blood sugar levels
- Building muscle and circulating the blood
- Helping people stay active for longer and delays the onset of various conditions
Supporting Mental Health and Well-Being
Along with the physical benefits, cycling can also offer a wealth of mental benefits, including:
- Providing feelings of empowerment
- Giving a sense of independence
- Boosting self-esteem and positive self-belief
- Reducing social isolation
- Provides an opportunity to spend time in nature
Providing Social Benefits
Joining a cycling club or going to an accessible activity centre can be a great way for people who typically feel isolated to meet new, like-minded people and broaden their social horizons.
Using tandem or wheelchair bikes offers a more social bike riding activity, allowing riders to work together and build a connection.
Cycling can be even more enjoyable when done with a family member, carer or friend – you’ll share the physical work while still encouraging social interactions, teamwork and trust.
Accessible Cycling at Calvert Exmoor
Cycling is an incredibly popular activity with our guests – and for good reason!
The cycling path around the picturesque Wistlandpound Reservoir can be challenging, but that makes it all the more rewarding. The hallmark Exmoor views offering tranquil water and woodland scenes certainly don’t hurt either.
Our range of bikes includes tricycles, handcycles, recumbent bikes, wheelchair bicycles and tandems to ensure that you can find the right equipment to suit your needs, no matter who you are or your ability.
An instructor will help everyone find a suitable bike before you’re free to whizz around the route or take things at a more leisurely pace.
The bike riding sessions tend to last between two and three hours, with plenty of opportunity for a break halfway through, ensuring everyone can get the most out of the activity without becoming worn out.
Don’t just take our word for it! Head over to our guest stories to find out what people liked most about the cycling activities and their time with us.
With access to different kinds of adaptive bikes, there are plenty of ways for anyone to get involved in accessible cycling at home. However, if you cannot get your hands on a suitable bike or want to try cycling alongside a plethora of other inclusive adventure activities, an accessible activity holiday might be for you!
Can’t wait to get in on the action? To find out more about booking a stay with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.