Senior Road World Championships brings virtual racing to care homes

Indoor cycling programme is designed to combat dementia and improve physical and mental well being

Thousands of senior citizens will be taking part in their own Road World Championships in September, and the event has been backed by British Cycling and Sport England.

The annual competition kicked off on Monday September 2 and will conclude at the end of the month, after which one male, one female and one team will be crowned world champions.

>>> Yorkshire UCI Road World Championships 2019: routes and more

There will also be a prize for 'Crew of the Year' - with the award bestowed upon the team going the extra mile to support their senior athletes.

Competitors will take part using equipment supplied by tech company Motitech, pedalling inside on adapted bikes, watching the virtual world go by via a collection of 1,700 virtual paths - much like the experience many cyclists enjoy on Zwift.

The first event of its kind took place in 2017, as part of the Public Health Campaign for the UCI Road World Championship in Bergen. That year, 1150 participants got involved, riding a total of 30,000 kilometres in six weeks.

In 2018, participation doubled to 2500 cyclists, covering 52,000 km together - and the aim is to have even more ride in 2019.

With the World Championships in Yorkshire this year, both British Cycling and Sport England have supported the championships, allowing more care homes in the UK to access the equipment via funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

The relationship won't end after the World Champs caravan has left the country, however - British Cycling and Sport England will support the project via their Places to Ride capital grants programme for the next five years.

Residents at the Wiltshire Heights care home, in Bradford on Avon, will be taking part.

Client Services Manager there, Libby Miles, told the Wiltshire Times: "With the support of the equipment from Sports England and Motitech we are able to transport our residents around the world through the library of 1,700 films while getting stronger, fitter and happier.

“Exercise is so important to all and using this specific equipment provided by Sports England, we are able to ensure that our residents can do so, safely."

The programme is designed to help elderly people, and people with dementia, to get active - helping to combat symptoms and improve quality of life.

Developed in cooperation with the Department for Senior Care in the City of Bergen, Motiview's equipment is designed to improve mobility and self-efficacy, build strength and balance to help protect against falls, fight against weight gain or increase appetite, and help improve sleep, sociability and mental wellbeing.

In the UK, 60 care homes are signed up to the World Champs so far, with competition coming from Norway, Sweden, Canada, Iceland, Denmark and Australia.

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