When I am out training it is really interesting how many people give me a second look. You see I do stand out riding a trike, or as I say to the children I speak to, a tricycle on steroids! Most of the time people are intrigued as to why I’m on 3 wheels but at other times I get some really stupid comments.
One of my MS symptoms is a lack of balance. I remember when we were kids and there was a piece of playground equipment called a spinning carousel. We would hang on to the bars and push it as fast as we could then jump on and spin around. We would have a competition to see who could stand up after it stopped. I never was very good at it, with the world spinning in my head I would fall on the ground and lay there laughing, even the ground feeling like it was spinning. Funny enough at times that is what my head is like now with MS!
Over the years I have learnt how to focus on objects to stop that spinning feeling, but there are times when I can’t and it is like having vertigo. So trying to ride 2 wheels is a bit of a disaster and I end up looking like Fred Flintstone with my feet on the ground just so I don’t end up on it.
Things can make this worse such as my core body temperature going up as I discussed in my last article. But also things like getting a head cold, with blocked sinus’, makes it really bad. I can walk down the hallway at home and it’s like being in a bumper car as I bounce off the walls.
So when I wanted to ride I just moved on to 3 wheels. And it certainly isn’t as easy to ride as it looks. Everything that you know as a 2 wheel rider you have to forget. For someone with balance issues it is probably the hardest thing to learn to ride because you have to constantly counter balance. On 2 wheels you don’t feel the camber of the road, but on 3 you feel even the slightest camber. At first I would hang on for dear life, now I have learned that the trike will handle bumps, camber and potholes much better if I relax and let it move under me. That’s the other thing you can never miss, bumps and holes when you have 3 wheels!
The next thing you have to realise is that to go around a corner you don’t lean. With fixed wheels at the back you can’t lean. It is all about getting your centre of balance as low as possible, actually turning the handle bars, keeping your inside leg straight, hanging off the seat towards that straight leg, putting all your weight on it and pushing against the opposite handle bar. It is so important to look at where you want to go, look ahead and that way the trike will naturally move in that direction. It’s like the motorcycle racers with side cars, some of the really good trike riders hang right off the side! So almost the complete opposite of what you would do on 2 wheels.
So there has been a lot to learn over the last 4 years and it never stops, I am always learning. One of the best ways to learn has been through the other trike riders I race with overseas who have been doing this longer than me. Hopefully I will now be able to impart that knowledge to anyone here in Australia who wants to take up trike riding.
Like anything there are good and bad things about riding a trike. The good is that I never have to unclip my shoes at lights, I do a great track stand and I get to meet a lot of people because they want to know why I ride it and where it comes from. The bad is that you have 3 wheels to possibly get a flat, it is heavier to ride and you just can’t take off a back wheel and put in the back seat of your car!
But riding my trike has given me the opportunity to still ride with friends, to race overseas and meet some incredible people along the way. But more importantly I honestly believe that cycling is keeping me walking.