Lerona was paralysed by a spinal cord injury when she was involved in a car accident at the age of five.  She handcycled from London to Amsterdam with her team, raising over £45,000.

I organised the London to Amsterdam bike ride because I felt like I needed a big challenge - something a bit different, something fun and something that would help keep me fit. I had some free time so I could focus on it, and I really wanted to do something special that would push me out of my comfort zone and really challenge me both physically and mentally. 

I had never cycled before!  In fact, I only managed to get my Tri-bike a couple of months before the challenge began. I just loved the idea of doing it and felt I had to give it a go and luckily (after quite a few hiccups) my Tri-bike and I finally bonded and worked well together to the finish line. In our team there were nine of us, including my husband Nick, my brother Sivan, my sister-in-law Chantal, and our friends Neil, Joe, Jon, Rebecca and Sabrina. 

Lerona and team in Trafalgar Square

The cycle

Day One: This was the toughest. It was 85 miles and we started really early in the morning in the rain. I’m not a fan of being cold and wet but the buzz of the challenge kept us all going. By the time we reached the ferry crossing we were shattered.  I was really emotional as it took a lot out of us, but I knew that if I could get through day one, I could definitely take on day two.

Day Two: This holds my best memories. I had mixed emotions as I could feel the challenge ending which made me feel sad, but I was also just buzzing with pride.  We had become close as a team and completing the challenge together was a feeling I already want to replicate.  Cycling along the canal with blue skies and a strong headwind was my all-time favourite thing. I suddenly found some extra strength and just went as fast as I possibly could. In fact, I went so fast that I had to wait 15 minutes for the others to catch up!  This felt like ‘my time’ and I felt an overwhelming burst of euphoria and pride and I couldn’t stop smiling!  When we arrived in Amsterdam I was shattered and achy and so proud of us all but also sad that it was over.

Lerona and the team by the van

Challenge Central organised the event for us and were incredible. I was the first wheelchair user they had taken on a challenge and I think they found it amazing as well, seeing how the Tri-bike worked and how we all came together - the cyclists and handcyclists as one team. We bonded with the organisers who came with us. Steve drove the van and every so often would drive ahead and stand clapping and cheering. He even physically caught me at one point when I skidded off the side of the road in the rain!  David and Kelly cycled with us and had nothing but encouragement and enthusiasm (and puncture kits and snacks!) to keep us going. We couldn’t have done it without them. 

Aspire Leisure Centre

I’ve been a member of the Aspire Leisure Centre since I can remember.  I was a patient at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and had physio there for many years. Every so often we would incorporate the leisure centre into my rehabilitation, until I was old enough to become a member myself. The facilities in the swimming pool are unique and make everything so easy, from getting changed to getting in and out of the pool and being able to shower and get dressed again afterwards. No other leisure centre offers this for me. Now I mainly use the gym but sometimes I go swimming and have a play about in the sports hall with a basketball. It’s the only leisure centre I can use completely independently. I can do a full body workout without help which is an amazing feeling. I love the atmosphere in the Aspire gym, where there is no one judging or posing in the mirror, just friendly people.

I don’t actually consider myself to be disabled unless I can’t do something independently. As soon as I need help with something, I’m uncomfortable.

Independence is the most important thing to me and that was something that caught my attention with Aspire as they are all about helping people live independently. This is the most crucial, incredible gift you can give someone with a disability; no one can top that feeling of achievement that comes from doing something on your own. 

Lerona and the team with the Aspire banner


To fundraise I told my story and spread the word. Because my challenge was a bit more unusual and we were cycling all the way to another country, people seemed impressed. A friend of a friend heard about it and did a podcast about me which went fairly viral and, before long, people I didn’t even know were donating. It was incredible watching the total go up higher and higher. I started asking people for sponsorship really far in advance which meant that nearer the time they donated again - some because they had forgotten they originally donated and some were just really impressed with how much training it took.  I’m also lucky to have incredibly generous friends and family who really wanted to help me reach my target. They also heard about the amazing work of Aspire and wanted to support them. 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in the challenge.  A special thanks to my team - we got each other there – and our friends and family for supporting us and everyone who donated. I’m overwhelmed with the generosity of people. This has been such a life changing experience - I’m still buzzing!

I’ve just signed up to take part in RideLondon.  It might not be as exciting as cycling from London to Amsterdam, but it is certainly going to massively challenge me!

Lerona handcycling

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