“The Silver Bullet is perfect for me!”
At age 72, Victoria Finch found herself in desperate need of exercise, while finding it difficult to walk or run due to two knee replacements (left and right) and a third operation needed to replace the failing left knee. Due to her weight and high blood pressure, she was reaching the pre-diabetic zone and found herself in need of exercise that was safe and sustainable. At the time, she was also a near-novice cyclist, though the fear of falling off has always prevented that from making any development. She considered, for a long time, as to whether cycling would suit her as a form of exercise, and while a well-meaning friend suggested a motorised scooter, Victoria was determined that she needed exercise.
Victoria’s main struggles lay in the concerns and fears of falling off a bike with two wheels, as well as whether or not she would be able to turn to the pedal due to her knees not bending enough to fully rotate the cranks. Other cycling shops all recommended she use short cranks, but she was put off at the idea of going to great expense of ordering a small frame and having the cranks tailored in size only to discover that it wasn’t a good ‘fit’ or that she was too frightened to use it on the road.
For Victoria to feel safe on to use a bike on the road, she needed:
- The safety of three wheels to help with her confidence
- To be able to turn the pedals all the way around
For a while, Victoria considered electric trike companies like Viking and Van Raam but was once again deterred by concerns that the bike would not fit her, that she wouldn’t be able to turn the pedals, or, in the case of Van Raam, the practical difficulties of getting a bike home from The Netherlands. It was then that Victoria discovered Tomcat, a reasonably local company making trikes with electrical assist, adaptable pedals, and any other accommodation that she might need.
Victoria visited the Tomcat warehouse for an assessment, where they discussed the pros and cons of shorter cranks on the pedals, and Tomcat’s MD, Bob, took a series of measurements, which Victoria said that no one else had done. This assured her that the trike would fit her, an understanding that was only solidified when she was able to try out a Silver Bullet in the carpark.
The three wheels allow the security of being properly balanced, and the electric assist helps with the hills around where Victoria lives. The low-sitting Swivel Seat makes it incredibly easy to get on an off, and the shopping basket on the back is a useful touch. The Two-Piece Frame and removeable wheels are easy to put in the boot of a car and Victoria commented that, though not particularly strong, she is able to manage it without trouble. She also loves the trike’s ‘striking good looks.’
While nervous at first, and unable to properly use the trike for about six months due to a surgery, Victoria’s confidence quickly grew, and so her rides quickly lengthened from two miles, at first, to ten miles a day, five days a week. She has been encouraged by her initially-sceptical husband and, in six weeks, cycled about 350 miles – the distance from Worcester to Edinburgh!
“Physically it is re-shaping me, I feel very alive, very energised; I know my blood pressure has gone down, and am certain that my pre-diabetic score has improved (although that has not been tested due to not wanting to visit the GP during lockdown). Swollen ankles? Not anymore!”
Victoria has also spoken about the sheer joy and pleasure of being able to get out and about in the countryside, facing and conquering the challenges of slopes and hills, as well as how the bike has improved her mood and general enjoyment of life. Her motivation to get fit and go a little further each day is exciting and has her given her ‘a new lease of life!’
In her advice to others, Victoria says…
“Please don’t let your doubts and fears prevent you from making a life-affirming decision. If I can take up cycling at my age, with my limitations, then you can, as long as you get the right product, the one that fits you and helps you along. Three wheels and electric assist are definitely the answer for me, and I hope they would open a whole new world to you, too. You can’t put a price on your health, and if you don’t have your health then you’re in trouble.
In the UK, when you are “of a certain age” the expectation seems to be that if you have mobility problems, you should let a motorised scooter carry you along – but that only makes you less mobile. If you are able to turn the pedals of a tricycle, then I thoroughly recommend it as a way to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Give it a try!”