“I can ride on my own and go anywhere I want to!”
Sue, who has had Cerebral Palsy since birth, has always loved cycling. When she was seven, she got a blue and yellow trike, and instantly found it gave her a sense of joy and independence, and so began her love affair with cycling. When Sue started school at Ingfield Manor, she made sure to take the trike, as the building had huge corridors where she could cycle without having the confines of limited space or uneven surfaces, and while she used a wheelchair on a day-to-day basis, she would get back on the trike whenever the opportunity arose. By the time she returned from boarding school at sixteen, her love and passion for cycling were stronger than ever.
While Sue’s parents were able to invest in a larger trike and support her cycling until she was twenty-five, decreased mobility and her parents no longer being able to lift her on meant that the cycling was no longer an option. Over the next twenty years, Sue found various alternatives like her unique swimming style, using woggles to be reminiscent of cycling, in the aquatic therapy pool at the Leonard Cheshire home, or the static exercise bike purchased for the residents by the League of Friends, but none were quite the same.
In 2013, Sue got her first real opportunity to cycle again, at a national triathlon event called TriTogether. However, the ‘companion trike’ found to be most suitable for Sue still required a 45-minute labour-intensive process of the seat and pedal adjustments, as well as adding belts, foam blocks, and a number of shaped cushions. It also required a hoist transfer each time. While it was a brilliant opportunity to cycle again, it was inconvenient and often uncomfortable, but it sparked the search for a trike that Sue could ride independently, with the help of Wheels For All, Gloucestershire.
To make the experience as enjoyable and accessible for Sue as possible, she required:
- A trike easy to get on and off of
- Something that could be easily adjusted while Sue is seated
- An option for both independent riding and Carer Control™
- A trike that could be ridden on an athletics track or a forest trail
- Something transportable
The answer to Sue’s needs came in the form of a Tomcat Bullet Apprentice. While it was still under development by Bob Griffin and the team at the time, it quickly became obvious that this was what Sue needed to get back onto three wheels! The Barnwood Trust and Gloucestershire Disability Fund very kindly agreed to fund the trike, and the building commenced. The trike was bespoke built, meaning that it could be designed to allow a carer to easily hoist her onto the trike with minimal fuss. It has optional Carer Control™, and Puncture-Proof tires help to make it a little more reliable on forest trails. The Two-Piece Frame with Quick Release wheels also makes it transportable.
Sue is now able to cycle regularly, at the Blackbridge Athletics Track in Gloucester, and the Cannop Cycling Centre in the Forest of Dean – two very different but fully accessible and inclusive environments. Wheels For All Project Leader MaryClare and Sue entered the Superhero Tri at Dorney Lake in 2019, which Sue wasn’t able to attend before, with the companion trike too difficult to transport.
The trike has improved Sue’s physical health considerably as, although cerebral palsy isn’t progressive, it does exacerbate age-related changes to muscle strength, joint mobility and balance that occur with no exercise. The trike has also brought back the sheer joy, elation, and happiness that cycling is able to bring to Sue’s life, having a wonderfully positive impact on Sue’s mental health.
“The Tomcat Bullet trike gives me a feeling of joy when I ride it and now I can ride on my own and go anywhere I want to!”
The Tomcat team is thrilled that we have been able to reunite Sue with her one true love – riding a trike.