Sally Oakes

Sally Oakes

Two’s Company Coordinator, Life Cycle UK, Bristol

What does your job involve and what might a typical day be like?

I coordinate a programme of tandem rides in and around Bristol for people who are blind or visually impaired, with a team of (sighted) volunteer front riders. The job varies depending on the time of year.

In the winter, I plan the ride dates and the routes – nice quiet roads, not too hilly! I do some publicity (e.g. radio interviews, contacting relevant organisations) to promote the project to more visually impaired people and to recruit new volunteer front riders. I also set up training for new front riders. If there’s any spare time, I do some fundraising too, which involves filling in applications for charitable trusts.

Once the rides start in March, there’s no time for anything except organising individual rides. A typical day involves pairing up riders, arranging where to meet, at what time, transport arrangements, etc., and making sure everyone knows what’s happening.

Finally, I often go on the rides myself – they’re good fun and we usually stop for a pub lunch in the middle.

What qualifications and experience did you have before starting the job?

I had a little experience of organising events and route planning through organising cycling tours with friends. I’m also quite methodical and good with detail, which is important when organising events as it’s important not to miss anything. I had also been a volunteer myself which was really helpful in knowing how to support volunteers.

What are the best and worst bits of your job?

The best bit is hearing about how much people get out of the rides, and seeing it all come together. The worst bit is definitely the unexpected mechanical failures – we’ve had tyres exploding and, on one ride, we had eight punctures in the pouring rain. Luckily there’s usually someone on hand who can fix a puncture in 5 minutes flat!

What satisfaction do you get from your work and how does it make a difference?

I get a kick out of thinking none of this would have happened if I hadn’t made it happen. It also makes cycling accessible to people with a disability, which is brilliant.

Do you have any tips for someone looking for a career in this area?

I would definitely start with volunteering. Once you get your foot in the door with an organisation, opportunities tend to come up.