Cycle class supports stroke survivor

Sandra Robilliard has taken up the chance to join an adult cycle skills class, in a joint initiative between the States of Guernsey’s Traffic and Highways Services and the Health Improvement Commission.  

Following a stroke, Sandra was apprehensive to cycle. Thanks to the Bikeability instructors, she has regained her confidence. 

Here is Sandra’s story: 

“I had totally lost my confidence with cycling following my stroke. I had tried to cycle a couple of times, but hadn’t felt at all comfortable with it and that dented my confidence even more.  

My bike had stayed in my garage ever since. At the class I discovered that I definitely haven’t forgotten my cycling skills. The positive feedback from the instructor, Euan, also helped me realise that.

Due to spinal problems and nerve damage, I have difficulties moving my feet. This means I need to wear foot braces, and these prevent me from being able to do ’tip toe’ when stationery on the bike. Setting off on the bike and stopping had become a bit tricky for me. Euan taught me a different technique for setting off and stopping, and by the time we’d completed our practice I was already feeling much more confident about this. The use of the gears and motor (I have an e-bike) came back very naturally. It’s true what they say - you never forget how to ride a bicycle! 

So, while it turned out that I didn’t need to re-learn much in terms of cycling skills, the lesson has been really important to me.  I’d seriously been considering selling my bike because it seemed so unlikely I’d ever have the confidence to ride again. However, having this cycling lesson has totally changed things for me. It allowed me to re-discover how good it feels to be on the bike - and see that I am actually okay riding it. 

Now it is just a matter of building up my confidence again - and doing a little bit more practice with some hand signals. My plan is to go out on my bike again at the earliest opportunity so I keep up the momentum with this now.  

I used to love cycling - and the cycling class enabled me to see I can still enjoy it despite my challenges.  I am looking forward to lots more cycling adventures. Cycling will help me get fitter and enhance my continued stroke recovery, especially since walking isn’t quite such an effective form of exercise now due to my braces.  Cycling was initially recommended by my spinal surgeon about 10 years ago.  Being able to continue riding my bike means it will be beneficial for my back, and great for general wellbeing.

Not everyone who has had a stroke can go onto cycle, my story is not a suggestion that all who have a stroke and live with the effects can see the same results as each journey is different. I feel very lucky to be able to do so. 

So, thank you to all who are involved in putting these classes together - and for making the difference between me selling my bike and feeling confident enough to return to cycling again.”  

Anyone interested in taking a course, which are still currently free of charge thanks to funding from the Health Improvement Commission, which will be tailored to suit individual needs, can email to sign up.