Tandem cycle club takes off at RNC

6 students are lined up on bikes in the sports hall. There is a representative from British Cycling standing at the front talking to them.

As well as delivering academic and vocational qualifications, at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) we want to provide students with as many opportunities as we can for them to grow personally.


Every Wednesday afternoon we set aside two hours for learning and leisure sessions where students spend time doing something that they enjoy. Students can choose anything from a range of different sports to performing arts to yoga to horticulture. One of the newest clubs that has gained popularity over the last couple of years is the tandem cycling club.

Jim Wallis, Massage Teacher, set up the tandem club because of his keen interest in cycling and says “Riding a bike is something that I really enjoyed as a kid and have continued with this passion throughout my life, I’ve done various sponsored cycles, worked with professional cycling teams and taken the massage students along to events so they can get meaningful work experience.”


The tandem club is open to any student, no matter what their experience level or ability as Jim Wallis explains “We have three tandem bikes but this term we have started using a local company who provide twin bikes and there are also options for using hand bikes, should we need to use them in the future.” Thomas Emslie, 20 from Aberdeenshire, has low muscle tone and in the past he had limited opportunities to take part in outdoor activities before coming to RNC. Now he says “Obviously I find the twin bike easier to get on and off of and it’s a lot more stable for me so I feel much safer when I’m out on the bike. I’m really enjoying the tandem club; there are so many different things to do.”


As well as the cycling itself, the tandem club also focusses on other aspects of the sport which include going into the gym and nutrition, Jim Wallis explains “We started off in the gym because some of the students had never cycled before so we needed to ensure that they were comfortable with the movement on the bike and understood it before we went outside.” Stephanie Mackey, Teacher in Charge of Independence and Mobility, worked with the students in the kitchen when they were making energy bars and said “It’s great that students are having the chance to put into practice the skills they learn in their ILS (Independent Living Skills) sessions.”


Last week we were lucky enough to have British Cycling come in to set up camp in our sports hall for a Talent ID day and Jim Wallis explains “It was a brilliant day, over 20 students took part during the whole day, they were doing the same tests that the Paralympic athletes go through. Each round lasted 45 minutes in total, including a series of 3 minute sprints of maximum effort. I was so impressed with the determination of our students soldiering through those sessions; they were very tough! We’re just waiting back on the results now so who knows? Maybe one of our students could be a future cycling Paralympian!”


You can view the Facebook gallery from the RNC tandem cycling club


Would you like to volunteer?

We are now looking to take the cycling further and the tandem club are looking for volunteers to come and pilot the tandem bikes with our students for weekend rides. If you are fit, healthy, enjoy cycling and looking for a new challenge – get in touch!

Find out more about volunteering as an RNC tandem pilot


Find out more about the College

If you are thinking about studying with us, come to the College Open Day on 8 December to find out more about the opportunities available at RNC


Please call our student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk if you have any questions.

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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