CHARITY HELPS PARALYSED RIDERS TO RETURN TO MOTORCYCLING
November 16 2011.

 A new charity has been created to help disabled people to return to riding motorcycles. At present, the charity is primarily working with people who have been paralysed or have lower limb amputations. The Bike Experience demonstrates how they can ride again and has already been successful in helping 26 disabled riders to get back on two wheels in its first year of operation.

The Bike Experience charity was founded in March 2011 by Talan Skeels-Piggins, a former Royal Navy fighter controller, who was himself injured in a motorcycle accident almost nine years ago. Having suffered setbacks and complications in his own quest to return to biking, Talan decided to set up The Bike Experience to help other people in a similar position to return to biking.

Since its inaugural event, held in April 2011, The Bike Experience has run a total of 14 riding events which were attended by 26 disabled riders, all of whom were helped by 7 Instructors and 50 launch crew.

The charity has had the use of four motorcycles, which have been specially adapted with gear shifters that allow disabled riders to change gear without the use of a foot pedal. It also relies on the help of volunteers to act as launch crew, whose duty is to help launch the rider as they set off and then catch them as they come in to stop.

Currently based at the Castle Combe circuit near Bristol, The Bike Experience holds riding events which allow people to return to motorcycling through a structured three-level programme. The first two levels are a basic experience and gets participants back on a bike and riding around the track. Riders then progress to the third level, which teaches the subtle differences between riding now as opposed to full able-bodied riding. It is this level that readies them to join in a track day with 50 other riders. Another area covered in the training is a code of conduct for track days, as developed through consultation with circuit owners and track day companies.

Skeels-Piggins explains, "Of the 26 riders we worked with this year, there was such a wide spread of previous biking experience, from ex Manx GP racers to those who have only ever ridden a moped. Some have not ridden a bike for two years while we had four riders who were paralysed over 30 years ago."

The Bike Experience also aims to promote the physical and mental health of the individuals who take part. Skeels-Piggins continues, "For those with a recent injury, coming to a day with The Bike Experience changes their outlook on the rest of their lives. Riding a bike is something that most disabled people think is impossible, but achieving this allows them to believe that any goal they set themselves in life can be reached. Some have been waiting over 30 years, and it is the final realization of a dream that allowing them to rediscover the joy and exhilaration of riding."

The Bike Experience has exceeded the founders' expectations since the first event was held with just one rider but has expanded over a seven month period to accommodate up to four riders at a time. The 2012 season will begin in May and there are already 25 participants lined up to attend. Those wanting to ride again, volunteer their time or get involved should take a look at charity's website, www.thebikeexperience.co.uk .