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FIT-Ability awarded Health Promotion Grant funding

From 2007 to 2009 a three year Health Promotion Grant from the ACT Government allowed FIT-Ability to maintain its activities and purchase two recreational tandems.

Hartley Lifecare Ability Cycle Challenge – 23 to 25 November

The Hartley Cycle Challenge was held over 3 days from 23-25 November. It is a 460 km cycle event that raises awareness and money for people with disabilities. This year five people with disabilities including three on tandems participated with the ACT Disability team. Over the 3 days the tandems clocked between 200 and 400 kilometres from Canberra to Kosciusko and back. It was challenging cycling up the mountains but exhilarating descending. Speeds of up to 82km/hour were reached by the tandems. Over $500,000 was raised for Hartley Life Care by the hundreds of riders and volunteers participating in the event.


Tour De Femme – 11 November

Three tandems with three vision impaired stokers competed. Brandie and Rosemary came 39th overall (out of 544 riders) in a time of 34:38 minutes, 2 minutes behind the winners. The other tandem riders came home in less than an hour.

Oenone Wood (world champion and winner of the Tour de Femme for the last 2 years) rode one of the tandems with her mum, coming 215th in 48 minutes. The participation of tandem riders, including Oenone, attracted significant media attention.
Tour de femme 2007 1

Festival of Ability – 30 November

The tandem bikes were at the Festival of Ability which was held on 30 November 2007 at Queanbeyan Park . The event celebrates the International Day of People with a Disability and their achievements and recognizes the contributions they make in our community. It also raises awareness of issues that affect people with disabilities in our community. Tandem test rides were provided to the community. Lindy Hou, who is a vision impaired tandem cyclist gold medallist, was a guest speaker with back-up music provided by Jimmy Barnes.

FIT-Ability wins the Chief Minister’s Award for Inclusion in Community 2007

Small change big difference!

On Friday 2 November 2007 the Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards were presented. This evening was hosted by the lovely Effie (Mary Coustas) and special guest artists including, Timothy McCallum, Emily Burke and Jamie McGuane.

The awards are for business, government agencies, community groups and individuals who make an effort to include people with a disability in the community. This is in a work place or in every area of life. There were many awards presented on the night.

FIT-Ability (Pedal Power and Females in Training) was nominated in the category of Inclusion in the Community - Individual or Team. FIT-Ability and won the award. Lauren (pilot) and Julia (stoker) accepted the award.

Lauren thanked the Chief Minster, Effie and John O’Niell, the Executive Dirrector of Tadact (Technical aid to the disabled) who presented the award,. Other people who were also thanked were Rae Wells and her team who thought of this fantastic idea of tandem cycling for vision impaired women in 2001. In the last two years Pedal Power has teamed up with FIT to make this an even stronger program and it is now open to men as well. Many thanks also to the current members of the Fit-Ability committee.

Tandem bike riding is all about team work: you need the person on the back to get you up hills, and to go fast on the downhills or on the flat!

FIT-Ability wins a Vision Australia Making a Difference Award 2007

On 14 June 2007 The ‘Making a Difference’ award was given to FIT- Ability. Penny from FIT and Lauren from Pedal Power received the award and two of our stokers, Sharon and Bob, also attended. The ‘Making a Difference’ award is received by 90 organisations per year. These awards are presented to local businesses, organisations or individuals who have shown outstanding support for people who are blind or who have low vision. The awards are recognition of best practice. FIT-Ability has developed a practical solution for many challenges. Providing tandem bikes and pilots has enabled people to ride a bike in social events and in competition. FIT-Ability is kindly supported by an ACT Health Promotion Grant.

Supporting the Ride of Her Life

FIT-Ability volunteers travelled to Bundanoon with a number of tandem bikes to help with some tandem pilot training. The new pilots were training to ride with Deb Warren for a fundraising ride from Armidale to Bundanoon for the Quest for Life Foundation. Deb became blind as the result of a childhood brain tumour. After practising skills on basketball courts the riders hit the roads for a tour of Bundanoon countryside.

Come and Try day – 16 September

FIT and Pedal Power ran a Tandem Come and Try morning in Parkes opposite the Hyatt Hotel.

Come and Try Day 1 July 2007

The Come and Try Day that was held on 1 July 2007 was at Mt Stromlo Forest Park Criterion Track. The weather on this day was very cold and there was a threat of rain. 6 experienced pilots attended, 2 first time pilots who were riding with confidence by the end of the day, and 1 new vision impaired rider. An obstacle course was set up on the track made from drink bottles so that the pilots could improve their skills in slow speed manoeuvring. After riding morning tea was provided.

Tandem bike riding at the Birrigai camp – 27 to 29 April

Tandem bike riding was one of the activities at the Canberra Blind Society camp, held in April 2007, at the Birrigai school. On the day it was raining and the tandem bikes were set up on stands under cover so people could try riding. This was for most of the time.

The rain did slow down and the cyclists then were able to venture out for some on road riding around the camp tracks. The Birrigai staff had kindly graded and smoothed their gravel road to make it safe for us. However, riding was quite challenging due to the dirt and mud.

Around 10 vision impaired people rode, this also included 2 people with vision impairment and hearing disabilities. From the camp 5 riders are interested in riding again and 3 people have joined us on our regular rides. This is great!

Coaching Day – 14 April

A coaching session was held. Kial Stewart give the tandem cyclists training in advanced tandem skills. At the 2004 Athens Para-Olympics, Kial and Anthony raced one of Fit Tandems, and won medals. Kial has offered to give these coaching days regularly. The response from participants on the whole was very positive.

Come and try day at Wagga Wagga – 25 March

A come and try day was held on the last weekend of March 2007 for vision impaired and blind people in Wagga Wagga. Canberra cyclists from Pedal Power on bikes provided by Females in Training took part on the day.

Other organisations that were involved were Wagga Vision Australia and members of Bicycle Wagga Wagga who provided the cycling experience for 5 Vision Australia clients around the local netball courts. After pilots had polished their skills the tandems then took to the streets!