Sylvia's fall scuppers couple's 62nd wedding anniversary tandem ride

Norman and Sylvia are record-holding veteran tandem cyclists.
Norman and Sylvia are record-holding veteran tandem cyclists.

A pair of Shropshire cyclists in their 80s have had to abandon plans to celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary with a 62-mile tandem ride after one of them was seriously injured while walking.

Norman and Sylvia Powell, who are veteran tandem cycling champions, had planned to set off from their home at Bucknell on May 1 to ride to Bridgnorth and back. But while walking together along Clun High Street, Sylvia tripped over the stump of an old signpost.

"She has broken her pelvis and shattered her elbow," said Norman, who is 83.

"She was in hospital for eight days. She is at home now but can't do anything at all and is quite poorly, so the ride is aborted.

"It's unfortunate. We were looking forward to doing this ride. We are still quite fit. We are quite proud of ourselves to be able to do this sort of thing at our age and were doing 150 miles a week on the tandem."

An August 1989 picture of the couple in cycling action

Norman said 81-year-old Sylvia was angry about what had happened.

"She fell heavily and could not get up and was in severe pain. The neighbours came out and said it was an accident waiting to happen," he said.

He said the signpost had pointed to the youth hostel and memorial hall but had gone rusty and was removed, but three inches was left sticking up from the pavement surface, covered by a cone.

"The cone had disappeared, and Sylvia was the victim," he added.

The accident happened on April 12 and Norman says a new sign has since been erected.

He added: "We were married 62 years ago on April 3, 1959, and had planned to do the ride on our 60th anniversary, but I was in hospital at that time, and last year the Covid restrictions again thwarted our plans."

In a previous misfortune to hit the cycling couple, in 2014 they were both injured and put out of action for over six weeks when their tandem was in an accident involving a Range Rover on the A49 between Onibury and Craven Arms.

Norman, who was born at the bottom of Oldbury High Street and grew up in Langley, had a successful racing career, including being a national champion in time trialling, and he and Sylvia have set records as veteran tandem cyclists.

He added: "We won't be able to do anything for a while now. They told Sylvia her arm might never be the same again, so she may not be riding the tandem again. Time will tell.

"Maybe we will pursue our venture on our 63rd anniversary in 2022."

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