THREE visually impaired cyclists are riding 22km in tandem to raise money for the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind.

Daniel Goncalves Fernandes, Jim Ellison and Charlie Baker, who all have visual impairments, will be taking on the challenge tomorrow (8).

They will sit on the back of a two-person bike with a cycling partner in front to lead but they will both be pedalling.

Herald Series: Marlene and Daniel Goncalves Fernandes.Marlene and Daniel Goncalves Fernandes.

Mr Goncalves Fernandes, who has been visually impaired since he was young, will be riding with his wife, Marlene. Mr Ellison, who has a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, will be riding with his friend Brian Johnson, and Charlie Baker, who was born blind, will be riding with her mother, Alison.  

The challenge will take place on the cycle track at Horspath Athletics and Sports Ground in Oxford and is expected to take about two hours.

The cyclists have already raised £1,825 for OAB which supports 22,000 people in Oxfordshire with a visual impairment. They chose 22km to represent those people.

Herald Series: Jim Ellison cycling by himself.Jim Ellison cycling by himself.

Mr Goncalves Fernandes, from Banbury, said returning to cycling has “changed his life”.

He said: “I’ve had a visual impairment since I was very young and last year after a significant deterioration in my vision, OAB were there to support me. Because of my vision loss, I could not entertain the idea of cycling.

“This all changed when OAB helped me get hold of a tandem bike. What started as a hysterical comedy show for my daughters, watching me and my wife learn to pull off and break, ended in countless hours of precious family time.

“Although the 22km is a distance we are yet to conquer, it’s also a challenge motivated by the generosity of everyone that contributes towards this event.”

Mr Ellison, 56 from Watlington, said he’s taking on the challenge to highlight the importance of the charity.

He said: “I am also hoping that the challenge will encourage me to improve my own fitness. Retinitis pigmentosa means that the cells in the retina break down slowly over time which causes gradual ongoing vision loss.

“I have chosen to support OAB because I want to give something back as they have been so helpful in facilitating tech training which has helped me enormously, learning how to use a tablet and access audiobooks.”

Herald Series: Charlie Baker and her mum Alison.Charlie Baker and her mum Alison.

Miss Baker, 26 from Oxford, said it will be nice to raise money for an organisation she has been involved with for years.

She said: “I have complex health needs and I also have autism. I love cycling on a tandem. My mum is going to do the tandem challenge with me because we love cycling together. It will be a big challenge however we believe we can do it.”

To donate, visit: