Youngster urges disabled cyclists to give Gravesend's Cyclopark a spin
PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 September 2013
Josh Allen, 15, grew up with a condition that left the bones in his legs curved and was facing a painful operation to have them broken and reset.
In 2010, however, his fortunes changed after mother Amanda suggested cycling when she saw a leaflet for a local club who train at Cyclopark in Gravesend.
Now he wants to get more disabled adults and children into cycling at the Istead Rise site by supporting the charity Cyclo4All.
Josh, of Sidcup, said coaches Tony Blake and Martin Messer at Woolwich Cycling Club quickly spotted his potential.
He said: “When I started it was really hard, I couldn’t go more than 50 yards.
“But they saw potential in me and got me training at the Gravesend Cyclopark.
“Because my legs got stronger and stronger, the muscles pushed my bones back into place.”
The teenager already has three south-east regional time trial championships under his belt and races regularly.
Last week, he cycled 100 miles through wind and rain in just under six hours – finishing 65th out of more than 1,200 riders and raising £200 for charity in the process.
The event, from London to Surrey, was in aid of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research but Josh’s was backing Cyclo4All to the hilt.
Josh volunteers at the centre, helping people use specialist equipment including a forklift-like bike that allows people to ride without leaving a wheelchair.
He has a young coaches award, meaning he can professionally teach learners, but is hoping to make competing a career.
Though he plans to go on to A-levels after taking his GCSEs this year at Hurstmere School, Hurst Road, Sidcup, Josh has his sights set on becoming a professional cyclist.
He said: “I was invited into the Regional School of Racing, which is for the best riders in the country.
“We all came together for race training, it was very prestigious.
“At the moment in the national races the best I’ve done is come 14th but I want to improve.”
Josh cycles every day and even breaking his arm in an accident last year couldn’t keep him out the saddle for long.
Though he now specialises in road and track racing, he used to be a mountain biker – and learnt the hard way why it is called an “extreme sport”.
“I hit a big rock and came off and broke my arm,” he said.
“I’ve got a metal plate in it now. It’s fine most of the time but for lifting stuff it’s not as strong as it used to be.
“I couldn’t get straight back on. When I was cycling again I steered away from mountain biking.”
Josh may be one of the best bikers in Bexley but he is far from the only teenager with the need for speed on two wheels.
British Cycling figures show the sport is enjoying a renaissance after a clutch of gold medals in the London Olympics and Tour de France glory for British riders.
He said: “I’ve seen so many people starting at Woolwich Cycling Club and whenever I go out on the road there are so many people now.”
Amanda believes cycling has turned her son’s life around. She said: “They have never seen anyone overcome the bone condition that Josh had, though his ankles are still double jointed.
“The Cyclopark is such an amazing facility and they’ve really helped him.”
To donate to Cyclo4All, text CYCL04 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070.