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After fracturing my calcaneus and having an operation to insert 9 screws and a plate, I was told to expect a long recovery from this injury. I thought “Six weeks. Tops.” Wrong. Many months passed by before I could even think about weighting that foot. Nearly 2 years later it is finally feeling close to being better. My main passion, climbing, kept pulling at me despite it being the reason I was injured. I was also missing my bike. The injury began to take a toll on me. I felt isolated and lonely. It was a beautiful summer and my friends were off doing summer things as they should. The lack of moving and pushing myself was starting to weigh heavily on me. I missed the release that came from pushing my body.  I don’t exactly remember where the idea came from initially but I had this idea about getting a hand-powered trike. I’ve seen others on them, assuming that the people using them where paraplegics but why not use it for me?  I put the word out on Facebook and within a few hours I found a local resource that rented out mobility devices for very reasonable rates. A friend drove me over and I actually had three different models of trike to choose from. I choose the most sporty model. It was low to the ground, light-weight and just looked fun.  And for the amazing price of $5/week I could rent it.

I took it home and did some short rides around the neighbourhood. It definitely took some getting used to because everything was done with the hands: pedaling, steering, braking and shifting gears. I was aware of how vulnerable I was being so low to the ground so the first thing I did was get an orange flag for it. And I would go out at quieter times of the day. Being summer that meant after supper or on the weekends. After pushing the distances a bit each day I found myself doing between 10 and 14km almost daily at an average speed of around 14km/hr. I never would have thought my arms could propel me that far or that fast. I learned about all kinds of quiet streets and shortcuts through parks. And despite living about 5km from the ocean, I managed to find a relatively flat route to it and this became my loop. I would sit by the ocean in the evening sun, just enjoying the view and then from there I could choose a flat route to the local beach, or a hilly route along the ocean. Once at the beach I would enjoy a bit of time with a book before heading home.  I ended up mounting a box on the back between the back wheels where I could put a water bottle, snacks and my crutches strapped to the back of the seat. I even went out for supper with a friend – me on my trike, she on her bike.

My wife would notice my mood swings. And if I was feeling down or grumpy, she would just tell me to go for a ride. When I got home my mood was the complete opposite. I felt like a had a workout, I got some fresh air and enjoyed being mobile. I felt okay about my predicament once again. And I must say my pecs and shoulders didn’t look too bad after several months of this routine. Once I was well enough to ride my real bike again it took me a long time to stop missing my trike.

A few things I learned about trikes:

  1. Start slow. Take the time to learn how to operate it.  If you find yourself in a dangerous situation and need to make a quick maneuver you can’t think about how to do something.
  2. Avoid hills initially and then gradually introduce gentle inclines. Hills are a bitch when you are going up them with your arms.
  3. Be extra careful in traffic and around cars. You are very low to the ground and not very visible. Wear bright colours and make sure you have a flag on it.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, and you are in a reasonably sized community, check out resources for handicapped people. They too might have this kind of option available. If this doesn’t work, put out the word on social media.