Club history

Set up as a registered charity (number 1017270) in the 1980s, Bury Tandem Club for Blind and Partially Sighted People allows visually impaired cyclists to continue the sport they love. Members include men and women from age 18 to 76 years old, from across the whole of Greater Manchester.

In early 2016, the charity and club approved a number of changes to our constitution. Chief among these changes was a name change, to reflect changes in language since we were first set up.

A sports club

Some of our members have always cycled, others are taking it up for the first time. While we have grown, the ‘philosophy’ of the club has stayed true and makes us a little different from some other bicycle charities – we are primarily a disability sports club, rather than an accessibility charity. We ride extremely well-maintained tandems, with visually impaired riders (stokers) at the back and sighted riders (pilots) at the front, controlling both the gears and, of course, the steering. Tandem riding is a partnership – both the pilot and stoker work together with the pilot letting the stoker know when there are turns, hills and pot holes.

A partnership

There is a pool of about 20 pilots supporting 10 stokers. Stronger and weaker riders pair up, so that all tandems ride at a similar pace – averaging around 13mph. We have up to nine tandems out on our Sunday club runs, which tend to be between 40 and 60 miles, with a lunch-stop at a cycle-friendly cafe. New pilots and stokers receive training and quickly build up confidence on the tandems.

The joy of cycling tandem is shared by both the pilot and stoker. Finding a good rhythm, so that all you can hear is the wind in your ears and the hum of tyre on tarmac; cresting a hill and keeping your legs turning smoothly all the way up; chatting to other club members; descending at 30 miles per hour or more.

Clearly, as a partnership, each rider is dependent on the other, so commitment is important – we have six weekly rotas and if you do not want to ride every week, that is fine. But you really do need to make every effort to ride the weeks you have committed to, as someone else is riding with you.

Our club rules.

Our club constitution is the ‘formal bit’ which sets out what we do and also what we can’t do.