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Lycra-clad Countess of Wessex takes part in London bike ride for charity - best photos

Sophie piloted a tandem bike during her engagement

sophie wessex tandem cycle ride
Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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sophie arrives bushy park© Photo: Rex

The Countess of Wessex got back in the saddle as she joined a group of visually impaired cyclists for a tandem cycle ride in Bushy Park, West London.

Sophie's latest outing on Tuesday was in conjunction with her patronage, Vision Foundation, to highlight the importance of independent living for blind and partially sighted people and to promote its See My Skills report. 

The Countess, 56, was dressed for the July showers in a blue waterproof and black leggings as she piloted the tandem ride.

Sophie has been Vision Foundation's patron since 2003, having taken over the role from the Queen Mother.

The Countess is a keen cyclist, having completed the 450-mile Diamond Challenge as she cycled from Edinburgh to London in 2016.

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sophie smiles bushy park© Photo: Getty Images

Safety first! The Countess put on her cycling helmet ahead of her ride and donned a Vision Foundation charity shirt. 

The See My Skills report sets out the charity's plan to tackle high unemployment rates among blind and partially sighted people and Tuesday's event was part of a campaign about "working in tandem to break the cycle of unemployment for people with sight loss".

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sophie tandem bike© Photo: Getty Images

The Vision Foundation, which marks its centenary year in 2021, was originally called The Greater London Fund for the Blind when it was first set up. 

The charity has distributed more than £30m to sight loss organisations that work to inform, include and empower London's visually impaired community.

In September 2020, Sophie made history as she became the first member of the royal family to sit for a live sculpting session in support of one of her patronages.

She joined Frances Segelman at her London studio as the sculptor created the bust designed for blind and partially sighted people as part of a special event for the Vision Foundation.

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sophie pilots tandem ride© Photo: Getty Images

The Countess of Wessex in action as she cycles the tandem bike through London's Bushy Park. 

Sophie was pilot for the lead tandem and Monica Smith, the charity's centenary appeal manager, was her stoker.

Ms Smith, who has been blind all her life, said of the Countess: "She was chatting away, describing everything that was going on, talking about the partnership between a tandem and those who are sighted and not sighted.

"It was really just like going out cycling with a friend, it was really lovely.

"Yesterday when we had a trial run, she said I was the one that was calming her down, and she said that if I had not been calm then she would not have been able to do it.

"She was amazingly down to earth and just understood my situation completely."

MORE: 11 fun photos of the royals enjoying a bicycle ride

sophie wessex cycling bushy park© Photo: Getty Images

Sophie smiled as she joined her fellow cyclists for a ride around Bushy Park in Richmond. 

sophie wessex speaks with cyclists© Photo: Getty Images

The Countess caught up with fellow cyclists for a chat following their cycle ride. 

Olivia Curno, chief executive of the Vision Foundation, said: "The Countess of Wessex is an amazing champion of sight loss charities and disability employment, so it is incredible for us to have her here today shining her spotlight on this really really important issue.

"She has come to have fun and be active with a group of six visually impaired stokers and sighted pilots.

"We are here to have a lovely bike ride, but there is a really serious point to today which is that levels of unemployment for blind and partially sighted people are still unacceptably high."

She added: "Today is really about myth-busting and changing public perceptions and the Countess is putting her full weight behind that and we are so grateful."

sophie wessex bushy park group photo© Photo: Getty Images

There was time for a group photo at the end of the tandem ride. 

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