Nick has set himself a new challenge: to hand-cycle 26 miles around Les Quennevais cycle track to raise funds for Acorn and Jersey Sport's Cycle Without Limits centre!
Islander Nick Ozouf was born with a condition known as ‘Vitamin D resistant rickets’ that leads to softening and weakening of the bones and causes various mobility issues, but that hasn’t stopped him living an active life and a childhood filled with sports. Nick enjoyed football, cricket, golf, surfing and squash and even skydived 15 years ago to raise money for Jersey Hospice.
He says: “If things had been different, I think I’d have been a professional sportsman. Probably a footballer.”
Since Jersey Sport’s Cycle Without Limits inclusive cycling centre opened in October 2020, Nick has been using the centre regularly and loves to be able to experience the sensation of cycling again, as his physical limitations mean he can’t ride a regular bicycle. His cycle of choice is a hand-cycle and he’s noticed significant improvements in his overall physical strength and mobility since using the centre. With a double hip replacement three years ago, Nick often needed two sticks to be able to walk around, but with regular hand-cycling he’s been able to improve his core strength and now often only needs one stick and can sometimes even get around his home or work without any stick at all.
With so much physical improvement, Nick decided to set himself a new challenge: to hand-cycle 26 miles around Les Quennevais cycle track to mirror the distance of the London Marathon.
His employer, Jersey Employment Trust have been incredibly supportive throughout and he’s hoping to raise money for two local charities: Acorn and Jersey Sport’s Cycle Without Limits centre. In addition to raising money, Nick is passionate about raising awareness of disability:
“People are only disabled if due to the environment or situation they cannot be involved or included.
As a society we are striving for equality in all areas of life and this must include everyone who has a disability, no matter what it is. If we can provide the right environment, equipment and support to ensure that people with disabilities are always included then we can ensure they are not disabled.
Fundraising for these charities will allow them to continue their excellent work in supporting more people through training and work opportunities and to experience the freedom of cycling. The adapted cycles are very expensive pieces of kit, so I could never do this without Cycle Without Limits. The hand-cycle I use would cost around £7000 to buy.”
While the official virtual London Marathon takes place on 3 October 2021, Nick is doing his challenge a week earlier on 25 September 2021 – the same day as Jersey Sport’s first (post pandemic) HSBC Let’s Ride event – so there should be a lively atmosphere on the cycle track!
Nick credits the amazing facilities and the team at the Cycle Without Limits centre, particularly supervisor Danny Smith, with his brilliant progress and the opportunity to step out of his comfort zone and try something new. He remembers reading the bestselling book ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers many years ago and her words still stick in his mind and act as a motivator through challenging times.
Regular training with a specific goal in mind has helped Nick maintain momentum in his exercise sessions and to progress from 2-3 laps when he first set out in autumn 2020, to 11-12 laps now in summer 2021.
The virtual marathon challenge will involve approximately 28 laps to complete the full 26 miles and 385 yards. When training starts to feel hard and his muscles begin to fatigue, Nick remembers the motivational words of Jürgen Grobler, ex-Chief Coach of the GB rowing team: “When the man with the hammer comes, keep going.”
While 28 laps of Les Quennevais cycle track may not sound much to some who use a regular bike, Nick points out that a hand-cycle is significantly more tiring as the movement is comparable to rowing a boat through heavy waters. The challenge will go ahead in any weather conditions, except very strong winds, although Nick is hoping for perfect mild, dry conditions!
Come along and support Nick at the cycle track on Saturday 25 September 2021 or, if you’d like to sponsor Nick’s 26 mile hand-cycle challenge, to help raise funds for Acorn and the Cycle Without Limits centre, please visit his Just Giving page:
For anyone with a disability or mobility issue who is curious about trying the adapted cycles at the Cycle Without Limits centre, Nick offers some words of encouragement:
“Just get down there and try it out! There’s so much support and motivation and all the help you could possibly need getting on and off the cycles.
There are cycles to suit everyone, including tricycles, hand-cycles and rickshaw-style cycles that enable you to be securely strapped in while an able-bodied person cycles you around the track. The cycles can be adjusted to suit all capabilities and you’ll enjoy the sensation of the wind on your face as you whizz around!
Even if you can only do one lap when you first start out, that’s still a win!”
The Cycle Without Limits centre is always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to support sessions each week. Volunteering is a great way to give something back to the community while simultaneously boosting your own physical and mental well-being. Find out more about volunteering with us:
Find out more about our Cycle Without Limits inclusive cycling centre and view our cycling timetable: