The Tom Wells story - overcoming disability by bicycle
Tom, from Cardigan, had a leg amputated following a road collision on his bike in 1995. The operation, performed within 24 hrs of the accident, was necessary to save his life. From the outset he decided that having only one leg was not going to stop him living life to the full, or cycling for that matter.
Tom, a family man now approaching his half century, began his cycling whilst still living in London. He recalls with fondness a John o' Groats to Land’s End ride brim full with good fun and fellowship. He describes the event as 'rather like a long party'. It made a deep impression on him. He discovered for the first time the wonderful companionship to be found in cycling.
Enjoying a break at the the Welsh Festival of Cycling
In 1983 Tom co-established Brixton Cycles, a workers’ co-operative. He left the business upon moving to Wales in 1991. With some satisfaction he notes that the business is still going strong, and is still successfully operating as a workers’ co-operative. Indeed the company invested sponsorship in David Abrutat's phenomenal ride on a specially adapted recumbent cycle around the UK coastline (see Gallery page 1).
Two years after his accident Tom established New Image Bicycles of Cardigan. The shop he moved into was previously a hairdresser of the same name with the title New Image still adorning the front window. Rather than waste time and money changing the shop sign, he decided it made a good title for his own business. And who can argue? It was a case of crowning glories to chuckling chain wheels.
crank shortener - compensates for limited flexibility
Not for a moment did Tom have doubts about returning to cycling. It was just a question of making allowance for the limited flexibility of his 'new' leg. His original bike, destroyed in the accident, was a hand-built hybrid. He went on to buy himself a Specialized Hybrid, incorporating a rigid crank-shortener on one side to accommodate his false leg. In due course he made a trip to Staffordshire to see the late and legendary cycle builder, George Longstaff, who made custom designed hinged cranks. He is currently testing a new style of hinged crank made by Chris Bell of Highpath Engineering, near Lampeter.
Tom's prized Pederson
Never satisfied resting on his laurels, Tom discovered that a fellow amputee, Kalle Kalkhoff, distributed replica models of the original Pedersen bicycle, first invented in 1893 and built in Dursley, Gloucestershire. Tom invested in one of these and had it enamalled in a bamboo cane design. It's his number one bike now - and much admired. Amongst other innovations, it's equipped for ease of gear change with a 14 speed Rohloff hub gear .
Apart from being an active cyclist Tom puts a great deal back into his chosen pastime. He's a stalwart of the Ceredigion CTC District Association and a founder member of CTC Cymru, the Welsh region of CTC. He is also a lead organiser of the annual Welsh Festival of Cycling, which this year was held in Bala.
The superb Rohloff Hub Gear
Of a quiet, friendly disposition, Tom is admired and respected by all his colleagues and friends. It is typical of him that he always looks on the positive side. CTC Cymru and cycling in general are all the stronger for his involvement, and he is living proof that there is a full life to be lived - even after major physical trauma.
|.......a stalwart of CTC Cymru - Tom seated extreme right|
See also the 'Overcoming Disability' section in Cycle Life.