PUBLISHED: 07:59 23 July 2020

Kim Brooks is all smiles as she helps rack up miles. Picture: Courtesy of Nick Bishop

Kim Brooks is all smiles as she helps rack up miles. Picture: Courtesy of Nick Bishop

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A group of severely disabled adventurers are using specially adapted static bikes to complete a 2,400-mile virtual cycle ride across America, from the comfort of their care homes.



Hanna King pedals towards the team's goal of cycling Route 66 virtually. Picture: Courtesy of Nick BishopHanna King pedals towards the team’s goal of cycling Route 66 virtually. Picture: Courtesy of Nick Bishop

Those taking on the lockdown challenge at Hitchin’s Symonds House include full-time wheelchair users Kim Brooks, Hanna King, Jazz Nightingale and Tope Adewuyi, in a combined effort with three other Leonard Cheshire care homes in the UK.

Across the four sites, they are using static therapy bikes and accessible bikes to cycle Route 66 – from the east coast of Chicago to the west coast in California – virtually, racking up the miles and pooling their totals.

Money raised through donations will go towards buying and maintaining cycling equipment for all four care homes involved.

Challenge organiser Dave Evans, who is also a Leonard Cheshire resident, tracks the group’s progress on a virtual map and points out key landmarks along the way.

Jazz Nightingale is part of the cycling team at Hitchin's Symonds House. Picture: Courtesy of Nick BishopJazz Nightingale is part of the cycling team at Hitchin’s Symonds House. Picture: Courtesy of Nick Bishop

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He said: “We’ve made brilliant progress with the Route 66 challenge. Under lockdown, our intrepid Leonard Cheshire riders are taking on the biggest trek we’ve ever done.

“We wanted to create new connections and boost morale. We wanted to improve our physical fitness and have a bit of fun, and it’s working really well.”

The virtual journey began on June 1 and the disabled cyclists are hoping to reach their destination of Santa Monica by July 31.

Tope Adewuyi has been getting involved in the Route 66 challenge during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Nick BishopTope Adewuyi has been getting involved in the Route 66 challenge during the coronavirus lockdown. Picture: Courtesy of Nick Bishop

Sarah Grout, regional fundraising executive at Leonard Cheshire, said: “The phenomenal Route 66 challenge provides an extra boost to morale. The teamwork provides great motivation, with friendships being formed across the country as a direct result.

“The project shows the importance of physical activity and the joy of cycling, whether on static therapy bikes or adapted accessible bikes. “This specialist equipment is costly and needs constant servicing and replacement. Funds raised through the challenge will help buy and maintain cycling equipment for all the homes involved, meaning in future more people can experience the benefits of cycling.”

To donate to the Route 66 challenge in aid of Leonard Cheshire, visit justgiving.com/route66virtualcycle


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