“It would be a dream come true for me to ride on the back of a tandem regularly again.”
In this blog we find out about Tandemonium, an upcoming project that will help people with a visual impairment in Gloucestershire to get out on tandems with a sighted pilot on the front. Ines, one of its founding members, shares her story.
My name is Ines and I am 33. I’m originally from Germany but now live in Cheltenham. I am registered blind with only a little bit of residual site due to my optic nerve not properly developing at birth. I am really excited to be involved in Tandemonium, a project to get visually impaired people out on the back of tandems with a sighted pilot on the front.
When I was growing up, my family was very ambitious, especially when it came to sports and activities. there was pretty much nothing they weren’t involved in. Having me, a blind child, may have given them several challenges, but they refused to wrap me in cotton wool and made sure I tried everything at least once. So too with tandem biking, which quickly became my favourite activity. My parents always took us on day trips with the bike, and when I was 7 or 8, I started to use a tandem with my dad. Sometimes we rode as many as 60 KM in one day! Then, in 2000, when I was 13, we embarked on a 4 day long trip on the bike along the river Rhein, from Heidelberg to Koblenz, staying in youth hostels along the way. Cycling about 60 KM per day, sometimes in quite hot weather, was a challenge, however I loved it so much that we did it again, along a different river ,the year after. Even in boarding school I pursued this activity, as it was still my favourite sport.
It has now been more than 10 years since I last rode a tandem bike and I absolutely miss it. As with many outdoor activities, a sighted person is needed for me to enjoy this activity. Moved to the UK has meant that I do not have my family at my disposal anymore. This is why I am so excited about the Tandemonium project. It would be a dream come true for me to ride on the back of a tandem regularly again. Indoor cycling in the gym may be something we can do independently, but it does not give the same satisfaction, and of course you don’t get the benefit of the fresh air.