From a male tandem pilot:

Terry kindly gave me a brief, down to earth rundown on how to be a useful companion for someone with a visual impairment. I had never ridden a tandem before and, whilst I soon got the hang of it, it did require a lot of concentration. I must have done okay, as Terry, who had courageously ridden with me, proclaimed I was good for the next ride. I remember that ride as quite an intense experience. I had to concentrate on the riding to ensure I co-ordinated with my stoker. When we got to our refreshment stop, I had to guide her to a table in the café, to ensure she could find the toilet when needed, that she knew what food and drinks were available, to see that her order was taken and, when it arrived, that she knew what was in front of her and where it was placed. This was all made easy by Terry being clear about what she did and did not need from me, and easier still by her having a wicked sense of humour and an easy conversational manner. I realised immediately that one of the great things about the club is that everyone, front and back riders, sighted and visually impaired alike, are all there to enjoy the cycling and have a good time.

From a female tandem pilot:

Here’s a few words which try to sum up just how grateful I am that you got me involved in the Club … Terry encouraged, cajoled and supported me to take on piloting and I have enjoyed the experience more than I could have imagined. Being out with my VI stokers is a wonderful way to get to know new people, and gain a tiny appreciation for the daily challenges they face and overcome.

From a male tandem pilot:

I don’t know how you manage to keep going on rounding riders up. Your efforts have put new life back into MSSC – something that the members who ride will benefit from hugely. Funny to think that of all the marketing tactics deployed by the big name organisations of the world, nothing is quite as effective as those personal notes with follow-ups that you send.

From a female pilot:

My husband and I live in South West London and were looking for new activities as our children have left home. I am fully sighted but my husband is severely sight impaired so in the past this has always presented a challenge for us until that is, we came across MSSC through its publicity efforts to recruit new members. The first activity we became involved in was tandem bike riding. We started with a “Have a Go Day” which was not only fun but gave us a  first introductory lesson as riding a tandem isn’t the same as a regular bike.

Not only did we learn about tandem riding but I also had visual awareness and guiding training – since not only do you look after your visually impaired back rider on the bike you also need to be on hand to guide them at the all-important refreshment stops.

Nothing is too much trouble for the tandem management team – they have been so helpful and I am now a confident Pilot and ride with a range of visually impaired stokers as the back riders are called. My husband has also ridden with different pilots and has had some lovely conversations. We tend to join the middle distance Saturday morning ride of 15 miles and we stop mid-morning for a cup of tea or coffee (and a piece of cake!) and it is just wonderful to get out and have some good exercise in good company.

From a male tandem stoker:

The end of a year is a good time for me to say how much I appreciate all that you, and the rest of the cycling committee, have done for me, and no doubt others, in providing the opportunity to tandem. I know how much work you all put in, and I cannot tell you how much it means to me that you do this. Tandemming really is an absolute lifeline. It means a great deal, more than I can tell you. I’ve said it many times, but cycling with you all is a joy.

From a female tandem stoker:

I used to cycle with my family and loved the freedom of the outdoors and all the positive things that brings. However, as my sight deteriorated, I had to give this activity up and resigned my cycling days to the past. That was until I was introduced to MSSC’s Tandem Section. I now Regularly ride on the back of a tandem and the pure joy of being out on the open road again is beyond words. The opportunity to continue something I felt was no longer available to me has lifted my emotional and physical well-being and I cannot thank MSSC enough for the tremendous effort I know they expend in delivering this wonderful service.

From a female stoker:

It’s been wonderful to be able to go tandem cycling again after the lockdown and try the great new bikes. I come from the opposite side of London to do these rides as there is nothing like this in North London, but it’s always really worth it. I always tell other people about this club because I would like everyone to have a chance to try these rides for themselves.

From a male stoker:

As a blind person who lives alone, these past months have proved to be a
particularly isolating time for me.

I depend a great deal on the friendship and willingness of others to get out of my house, exercise in the fresh air, and socialise. Covid-19 stifled virtually every opportunity for me to do this. Even when the rest of the country were finding ways to return to normal activities, social distancing restrictions meant that I was still stuck inside, largely alone.

The MSSC new, twice-monthly tandem rides, have become a life-line. They have given me an opportunity to get out, to meet people and laugh, and to feel once again part of normal society.

The huge enthusiasm for tandem riding at MSSC, and the positivity of your pilots, is helping to rebuild my physical fitness and improve my mental health. It has brought to an end what has been a dark, lonely time. It is difficult adequately to express how valuable what you do is. My sincere thanks to you all, for your hard work, and the almost super-human efforts that go into organising it all. You are truly a gift to the growing number of blind people who are able to benefit from what you do. Long may MSSC continue, and flourish.

From a young, female stoker:

I had a fantastic time cycling on Saturday! I really enjoyed the ride and I think that my cycling is improving. We did a new route with more open woodland space and hills. My pilot was great and we made a good team! He’s fairly new to being a tandem front rider but he was fab! Tandem cycling has been so beneficial to me: not only is it good physical exercise but it’s so good for me mentally. I have struggled with accepting my visual impairment, as many people who lose sight do. This is because of how restricted it made me feel and how it brought so many “can’ts” to my life, but with tandem cycling I “CAN” again. It’s given me confidence in myself and my own capabilities, not only on a bike but in my life in general. I feel motivated again and I feel a new drive to really push myself towards my goals! I am starting to accept what I have and live life to the full with it.