The old adage that you can never forget how to ride a bike is certainly true for residents at a Gwynedd care home.
Cycling sessions at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd care home on the outskirts of Caernarfon are proving to be extremely popular.
Groups are taken by staff to the Byw’n Iach Arfon leisure centre where Beics Antur, part of the leading social enterprise Antur Waunfawr, are offering indoor cycling opportunities on a range of specially adapted cycles.
These include two seat quad cycles and single seat tricyles as well as a hand-driven tricycle. Some have the benefit of an electric motor which makes pedalling much less of a chore.
During a recent session there were whoops of joy as the residents cycled alongside each other waving at other playing tennis on an adjacent court.
Caernarfon man Huw Williams, who rode a tricycle with care practitioner Elliw Owen, enjoyed the hour-long session and said: “It was really hard work to keep pedalling. I was glad of Elliw’s help. But I really enjoyed it and want to come again.”
Arnold Kämmerling, 88, who lived in Pwllheli, was riding a quad cycle with his daughter Tina. She said: “He really enjoyed it but then he did all the pedalling work. I just did the steering.”
Another resident, John Marchbank, who is originally from Dover in Kent, was much more adventurous insisting on riding a tricycle solo.
Kitted out with a helmet. he rode confidently around the indoor tennis courts.
“I had a fantastic time here last week and was looking forward to coming again. I’m working out my breakfast corn flakes pedalling around here,” he said.
Later in the session John, who celebrated his 77th birthday earlier this year, rode the hand-driven tricycle. “That wasn’t so hard on my feet,” he commented.
Pendine Park’s resident musician, Nia Davies Williams. said the cycling sessions are something the care home have been keen to introduce for some time.
“We are focused on music and that is extremely beneficial to the residents who are living with dementia but activities such as cycling or dancing can also help them stay independent and provide a great sense of enjoyment. They can also keep you in touch with other people and improve the quality of life.
“We heard that Beics Antur were offering sessions here having secured a grant to enable them to do so and we jumped at the chance.
“The residents really enjoy coming along here and it’s very clear that the old saying that you never forget how to ride a bike is very true,” she said.
Nia added that when the warmer weather returns in the spring she hopes to be able to take residents on short cycle rides on the cycle path that runs close to Bryn Seiont Newydd.
It was a sentiment endorsed by Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans who said: “Ensuring our lovely residents have the best quality of life and well-being is always our priority.
“The arts and a huge variety of activities are central to daily life here and the cycling is with Beics Antur is a brilliant opportunity for some exercise and enjoyment.”
Beics Antur’s Tom Workman said the benefits of cycling are many and he was delighted to offer Bryn Seiont Newydd residents the opportunity to renew their cycling skills.
“There are pros and cons of course and some of the cycles are motor assisted but we can cater for all age groups and for all abilities.
“We are based at Porth yr Aur in Caernarfon and our bicycles are popular among locals and visitors alike but this winter, for one day a week, we decamp from our base and bring a range of bicycles to Byw’n Iach for groups to ride indoors,” he said.
Since Antur Waunfawr was first established in 1984, the charity has developed rapidly and are perhaps best known for its recycling projects. Their Caergylchu and Warws Werdd projects offer a range of work and training opportunities and now employs more than 100 staff and supports over 65 adults with learning difficulties.
Beics Antur is part of the Antur Waunfawr family of businesses and has recently been developed into a Health & Well-being Centre, with a bike hire a repair shop, a Well-being Loft available to hire and a sensory room, in a project worth £1 million.