TWENTY-ONE disabled and able-bodied cyclists took part in a 50km bike ride from York to Selby and back today.

Cycling to Freedom was organised by York Cycle Campaign with Empowered People - a Yorkshire-based disabled cycling charity - to encourage people with disabilities to give cycling a try.

The riders set off from Cycle Heaven in Hospital Fields Road,ten of whom had disabilities including multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons, stroke sufferers, diabetics and fibromyalgia.

The cycle included recumbents, hand-cycles, trikes, electric cycles and trailer cycles and the ride included a tea stop at Naburn Station cafe, repairs to a loose wheel at Cawood, lunch outside Selby Abbey and a look around the Abbey.

"Many of the participants on this ride are wheelchair bound, or can only walk very short distances," said Kate Ravilious, a member of York Cycle Campaign.

"To cover 50km under their own steam is a huge achievement. The different kinds of adapted cycles available, and the support provided by Empowered People, makes rides like this possible, and provides people with disabilities independence and a true sense of freedom."

York resident Jamie Wood, who took part in the ride and has multiple sclerosis, said:“With the back-up support provided by Empowered People I have the confidence to push myself and discover my own limits, safe in the knowledge that someone is there to help if I collapse in a heap!"

The route had been carefully planned by members of York Cycle Campaign, making sure that it was accessible for trikes and adapted cycles, and sticking to dedicated cycle paths or quiet roads as much as possible.

“It can be hard to recognise that someone has a disability when they are cycling, but they may more vulnerable than able-bodied riders and often struggle with balance,” said Kate.

"Safe cycle routes - preferably segregated from traffic - give disabled cyclists real freedom and independence.

“York has many fantastic cycle routes, but they are blighted by gaps where cyclists have to negotiate fast traffic, difficult junctions and the like. York Cycle Campaign is pressing for action to see those gaps filled, which will bring benefits for everyone."