Talking to colleagues about RA

Hi everyone,

I work in the marketing team at the Forestry Commission and a big part of my role is promoting our mountain biking trails. My colleagues are really keen to get me out on a bike and ride the trails with them. I have RA which is particularly bad in my wrists, and although I can (and enjoy) riding a bike, I ride at a gentle leisurely pace and I am really worried about going for a ride with my colleagues who don't know about my condition.

I'm looking for some advice on how to tell colleagues about RA. I'm 29 and generally fit so looking at me you wouldn't know I had RA, and I don't want to change their perspective of me. Should I just make up an excuse of why I can't ride with them or should I be honest? Thanks in advance for any advice.


  • Jewels
    Jewels Member Posts: 201

    Hi @pollyp92 I would be honest and they might just surprise you 😊

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,733
    edited 14. May 2021, 12:58

    I can understand your anxiety, while I’ve got quite a head start on you in age, my social group is mainly outdoorsy people (including my husband), many being cyclists. It’s very difficult for young and very fit people to understand the effect of pain on your life, except perhaps from periodic injuries that are normally only a temporary inconvenience. The time will come when they sit around comparing operation scars, joint replacements, cartilage damage etc, as we all do now, but most of you aren’t at that point yet.

    In your position I think I’d have a quiet word either with a line manager or a colleague with whom you have a particularly good relationship and be honest about your condition and it’s impact on your ability to do the tougher rides. If they want you to become familiar with the routes and their features, arrange to go out either on your own or with one or two people prepared to do so at your pace. Perhaps send them a link to this site and it’s info on RA, so they can better understand what you’re dealing with. You can then make a judgement on whether you feel comfortable letting others know. Tbh if they respond negatively, it says a lot more about them than it does about you. There are other ways you can show your worth in your role to the FC than being the fastest biker!

    This doesn’t significantly affect your ability to do your job - I’m assuming you’re not expected to act as a cycling guide for visitors, and current employment law would mean this shouldn’t affect your job security. It sounds like they may only need to make minor adjustments to how you do your work, if this is indeed a work activity rather than just a bit of team bonding.

    Showing your vulnerabilities is never easy with a bunch of “can do” people, but if you approach the right person to start off with, hopefully this will be a fairly smooth process. You may even be surprised to find they start talking about their own gripey bodies, and are as relieved as you that they don't have to keep it quiet any more!