Finding balance, success and that ‘wheee’ feeling

Dominic’s cycling story

My name is Dominic, I am nineteen and cycling is one of many sports I am interested in. My ambition was to cycle on two wheels like my Dad. This is how I achieved it.

Getting into cycling and Solihull Wheels for All

I have tried to learn to cycle for several years – it’s been quite a challenge because I have special needs. Then my family found Solihull Wheels for All based at the Norman Green track in Solihull. They are an organisation that supports people to enjoy cycling whatever their ability is.  With the support of their fantastic team of volunteers, after nearly five years, I achieved my ambition to cycle on two wheels just like Dad.

Starting out on their range of adaptive bikes, I began to cycle in a safe environment and develop my confidence. I loved riding the trikes, recumbent cycles and even the tandems. The volunteers took the role of ‘captain’ and were often surprised by how I took to this new challenge. The SWFA meetings became the highlight of my week.

When Solihull Wheels for All meetings resumed in 2023 something had changed. 

Supported by their volunteer, Arthur, I was encouraged to try one of their two wheelers. Perhaps you remember when you first rolled down a hill and lifted your feet off the ground for that ‘wheee’ experience? Suddenly, this was happening for me and led me to cycle on my own. My friends and the volunteers were delighted to see this – there were a few tears shed! I even became a social media sensation following a Facebook posting by the group.

The best things about cycling

I love the fun and challenge of cycling. On any of these bikes I ride against Strava so I can see what I have achieved at each cycling session. I enjoy cycling around with my friends at the Norman Green track but I feel even more successful since I have found my balance on two wheels. 

Buying my new bike

With the progress I had made, my parents and I started considering buying a new bike so that I could ride my own ‘steed’. We visited the usual high street retailers to see what was available. Then, one Saturday, Dad and I visited Red Kite Cycles in Shirley. Supported by the team there, I tried several bikes, and we identified the correct size and features that I needed. My favourite colour is blue, after that, I left the decisions to Dad.  

It came as a huge surprise later that week, when I visited my Granny, to find that the new bike had been delivered. It wasn’t even my birthday. Dad kept that one quiet!

Choosing a Trek FX 3

Dad did not see me as a mountain biker, so adjustable forks weren’t needed and would have added weight to the steering. The FX 3’s dropped crossbar is great for my short stature. It has slimmer, dual purpose tyres for smooth rolling and for easier cycling on tracks as well as roads. It is a well-made, lighter weight bike.  Its ‘geometry and 1x drivetrain’ – as Dad calls it – will give me flexibility as I make progress and take on different terrains. The brakes have good stopping power too, I’ve found.

My achievements on my new bike

The first May Bank Holiday gave me the opportunity to really give my bike a shakedown. With Mum & Dad, I attended both the morning and evening SWFA. I do still need support to get started – someone to push me on my way. I would cycle a few laps and stop for a drink and then set off again. My sporting achievements are inspired by my motor racing heroes in Formula 1 and Formula E. As you may be aware, drivers have their own dedicated numbers these days. To inspire me to attempt the next laps the number of one of my heroes would be called out to encourage me. 

First ride: 14 miles

At the end of the morning session, I reviewed my Strava App which revealed I’d cycled about 7 miles (22 laps). This was then repeated in the evening, though faster, all on my new bike. It was like we were made for each other!

The day was a great achievement as usually as Granny’s Park, I ride 3.5 miles in 30 minutes, as it’s not a dedicated cycle track. 

My cycling plans

I’m going to continue with Solihull Wheels for All meetings and with regular cycling around Granny’s Park. 

There may even be a family cycling holiday in the Lake District, we just need to convert Mum to being a cyclist first!

Over the years, I’ve competed in various athletics events with the Solihull Special Olympics, supported by Paul & Lydia Robinson and won numerous medals.  I’m excited to hear there are plans to run a Special Olympics Cycling team for competitive events in the future. I’m really up for this and can’t wait for the first meeting.

Of course, none of this would have been achieved without Solihull Wheels for All, or the team at Red Kite’s quality support and product knowledge to help identify the best bike for my needs. Here’s to the next milestone.