WE’VE BEEN INSPIRING PEOPLE TO RIDE BICYCLES IN NORFOLK FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS
Our Founder Tim Gregory started his cycling love affair in 1982 aged 13 by introducing the sport of BMX racing to Norwich.
After years of living and loving cycling in all its forms, 10 years ago Tim’s life suddenly changed when he became ill with a debilitating lung disease.
With permanently damaged lungs Tim’s cycling life became a frustrating and suffocating struggle.
Then he discovered E bikes and now he’s able to live and love cycling again.
Read on for full story…
The BMX Years
At the age of 13 I introduced BMX racing to Norfolk and formed the Norwich Flyers BMX Club. With the help of fellow members and parents we built Norfolk’s first BMX track in Costessey that stood for another 20 years.
Although BMX racing was always my first love and where my competitive goals lay, I also found a love of other cycling disciplines such as Mountain biking and road racing .
In the early 2000’s we had to close our much loved Costessey track. Over the next three years I spearheaded the creation of Norwich’s current National Standard BMX track; a free to use public amenity situated in Sloughbottom Park.
Two years later I completed the legendary Lands End to John o’ Groats ride and in doing so fell in love with road cycling. After a year of training I was beginning to think about competing again when life dealt me a cruel blow.
A Rare Lung Disease
Out of the blue I was struck down with a rare lung disease. At my diagnosis I was given two years to live at most. Thanks to the amazing staff at the Royal Brompton Hospital my life was saved but at the cost of extremely scarred lungs which have left me with only around 30% usage to this day.
Determined that I would not live my life without cycling I battled on. It’s no exaggeration to say that every pedal stroke felt like I was drowning. After two years of hard-won improvement I went to France and climbed most of the major Tour de France mountains over a three-year period, albeit a lot slower than the Tour! A feat that won me Norwich City Councils Inspirational Sportsperson award in 2011.
Heart breakingly the combination of 1000’s of hours of suffering on the bike to achieve my goals and the mental stress that the illness had put me through all proved to be too much for both my body and my mind. For the first time in over 30 years I put the bike away.
Six months later cycling started calling again. I decided that I had achieved most of my post illness goals and any cycling I was going to do from then on should be based on fun with fitness and training taking second place. I decided to go back to mountain bikes. After all, what could be better than riding amongst beautiful woodland scenery with your friends?
How wrong was I?!?! My lungs could not take the erratic changes required of them over such hugely variable terrain. On my 50th birthday I sat with my bike in a heap on the ground gasping for air, watching my friends having fun on slopes that I was unable to ride. For the first time I felt utterly defeated by my illness.
The Ebike Revelation!
Then IT happened!
Somebody rode past me on an electric mountain bike! Within two weeks I had bought one for myself. My first thought was it’s like having the wind at your back the whole time. Within days I was back in the woods. Now I was able to ride with my friends at their pace and breathe at the same time! I had never thought that this could ever be a possibility again.
So I started to think that if an electric bicycle had done this for me, why couldn’t it do the same for others?
The answer of course is that it can!
I’m so convinced of the advantages that e bikes can bring us all that I have decided to combine my cycling experience with my passion for ebikes and start Smilebikes.
Please come and pay us a visit and try an ebike for yourself. There’s every possibility that it will change your life too!