June 23rd 2015

Roy McFarland, a former Derby County football manager and International player was in awe of Life Cycle UK’s project Bike Back Derby.

Roy stumbled upon the Bike Back Derby cycle workshop whilst browsing for a new shed from Bike Back Derby’s near business neighbours, Derby Shed’s.

Roy had been on the lookout for a more suitable, lighter road bike, to replace his heavy off-road bike, but had not yet come across a suitable replacement. During a tour of the cycle workshop Roy asked many questions of the work the Charity does within his local town.

Bike Back Derby, part of local charity Life Cycle UK, works with prisoners at HMP Stocken and teaches them highly valued skills in cycle mechanics. Inmates who work on the Bike Back Derby scheme achieve a City & Guilds level 2 in cycle mechanics, currently the highest level awarded.

Once refurbished and checked over by a qualified mechanic, they are sold at affordable prices with the aim of helping people on low incomes to start cycling. The scheme saves old bikes from landfill, teaches prisoners employability skills and provides a supply of refurbished bikes for the community. The scheme has been set up through Connected, the local sustainable travel initiative, set up in November 2012, following the successful bid to DfT’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

From his time as a professional footballer, Roy knows how important it is to stay fit, particularly as you get older.  Roy had been doing a lot of running for fitness but was finding he was getting more and more niggles and injuries that would prevent him from training.  Roy’s doctor advised him to try cycling as a means of getting fit without the risk of impact induced injury through running.

Before visiting Bike Back Derby Roy did not know a great deal about bikes but wanted one to help his training. Roy said: “I received really useful and practical advice which allowed me to choose the right bike for my needs.  The staff were very helpful and full of information, and made me feel very welcome. I’d advise anyone who is looking for a bike to go to Bike Back Derby.  I love the idea that the prisoners are doing something proactive that could lead to employment when they are released.”

Roy left that afternoon, not with a shed – but with a customised bike suitable for his training needs. Roy is donating his unwanted, off-road bike to the Bike Back Derby project, and is very much looking forward to getting out and about on his new bike.

Councillor Asaf Afzal, Cabinet Member for Cohesion and Integration said: “Derby already has a high number of people who cycle around our city, and I am very pleased that Roy has personally benefitted from the scheme, and donated his old bike at the same time. I welcome the reduction in congestion and pollution, and look forward to seeing more people cycling around our city.”

Since the Connected launch in June 2013, around 800 bikes have been donated and refurbished, with over 750 more people riding Bike Back Derby bikes.