Andrew gets a grip on new sport with Olympic Park festival silverware
PUBLISHED: 07:11 03 August 2017
Tom Lovelock/Silverhub for Prudential RideLondon
Rookie handcyclist Andrew Darby took up the sport only three months ago, but claimed his first trophy at London’s Olympic Park.
The Beccles resident came second in the Handcycle Grand Prix at Prudential RideLondon, a three-day festival of cycling held in the capital on Friday.
Darby described the result as a massive achievement, but for the 34-year-old, who had a motorcycle accident in 2011 resulting in paraplegia, handcycling is about more than just winning races.
He said: “After the accident I was exercising and going to the gym, but I wasn’t doing anything competitive.
“Then I had a lot of encouragement from people to get involved with handcycling.
“It’s good for bonding friendships and having groups of people who are going through a similar situation to you and have more understanding.
“There seems to be a really big family and everyone knows each other and is trying to help each other.
“I feel more part of a unit now than I did prior to having my crash.”
At the world’s greatest festival of cycling, Darby completed nine laps of a gruelling course outside the LeeValley Velopark in 33 minutes 42 seconds to make the podium in just his second competitive race.
Darby is currently at college retraining to become a counsellor and said handcyling is something he would encourage other people in wheelchairs to try.
“Events like Prudential RideLondon give you reason to feel you’ve got something to achieve and look forward to,” he said.
“You’re very welcome here and it’s a nice atmosphere, with the stadium and everything – you never forget things like this.
“Handcycling builds confidence, you get put in situations where you have no choice but to be confident.
“You have to speak to people, you’re in a crowd, so you do get put in the deep end a lot, but it works in your favour.”
Nicola Adams OBE cycled with students and teachers from the educational charity Teach First at Prudential RideLondon as part of the PruGOals programme. For further information on PruGOals visit www.prugoals.co.uk.