The difference that cycling makes

I had to walk to the gym today as I’ve busted the little plastic thing on my trike that holds the chain tube in place – again. It’s a recumbent trike and I have to haul it sideways to get it in the front door. Stagger stagger crunch…

So it was a lovely sunny day & I trundled off with my walker. Not too bad going but on the way back I felt so slows and decrepit. Freeze freeze trip.

When I started to lose my balance I gave away my two-wheeler & got a big Pashley Tricycle with a shopping basket on the back. However I did notice I had trouble pedalling sometimes, not sure if that was freezing or what. My right arm would get pretty stiff and sore sometimes too and with the dyskinesias it didn’t like staying in one place – on the handlebars.

It was great for a few years until I fell off in the road so I gave it away and joined the gym. I was managing the stationary bikes with no problem.

Then I bought a second haND recumbent. It paid for itself in less than a YEAR as I took far fewer caBS FOR
Local journeys and for a few years cancelled my gym membership.

The position of the steering with arms down by side is very comfortable for me. I start flailing around a bit if the lights take too long to change. Can’t turn my head ( because of stiff neck & trun)k for a quick look over my shoulder so when I want to turn I will go into a side street so I can see the traffic in the main road. The sitting position means you are leaning back - this aggravates my retrocolis (neck jerking back) a bit but people just think I am nodding hello at them and they smile and nod back.

Below is a. clip of a lady with Parkinson’s riding a recumbent trike - Hase Kettwiesel (same as mine). It’s true what she says about getting your life back. I feel pretty normal on my trike & people are looking at the trike, not me.

Cycling also gives me great relief from akathisia (inability to sit still) when I have spent the morning trying to sit at my desk.

The best thing of course is in the summer when it is easy to steer with one hand and have an ice-cream in the other.

Cycling for freezing of gait. Snijders AH, Bloem BR. N Engl J Med. 2010 April 1, 2010

A 58-year-old man with a 10-year history of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease presented with an incapacitating freezing of gait. The patient had severe difficulties initiating gait and was able to take only a few shuffling steps when provided with a visual cue (the examiner’s foot placed in front of the patient). Attempts to walk evolved rapidly into forward festination and ultimately a fall to the ground. Axial turning was impossible.

However, the patient’s ability to ride a bicycle was remarkably preserved. Gait freezing recurred instantaneously after he dismounted the bicycle.

This striking kinesia paradoxica may be explained by the bicycle’s rotating pedals, which may act as an external pacing cue.

Alternatively, the motor-control mechanisms involved in gait as compared with other activities engaging the legs, such as cycling, could be affected differentially in Parkinson’s disease.

Cycling may offer a useful approach for exercise training in patients with Parkinson’s who are “grounded” by severe freezing of gait.

Appletree this is Tom from the middle of America. Good read I use to like ride bikes with my wife.(Pre Parkies) The recumbent bike never thought about that ride. I shuffle now with off times.
I think maybe the brain gets overloaded with trying to keep balance. Keeping balance is supposed to be automatic. To me my brain thinks it but the signal get there next week.
Three wheels, stays upright. External pacing your on to something. I can pedal stationary bike. This coming spring I am going to see if the local shop has one I can try. Thanks for your post!

Hi Tom,

I’m in the UK. Bought my Pashley from a bike rental place in a nearby park & they also sell recumbents. That’s where I bought the second hand one from one of the guys who work there.

It’s such a lot of fun to ride and it Always makes people smile when they see it.

I remember once I was struggling just standing in the queue in the shop at the hospital. Two nurses followed me out of the corridor to the entrance where my trike was paRked as they thought I was going to fall – my legs were giving way a bit much that day – I must have been stressed out after a visit to the dental hospital. I tried to reassure them that I would be perfectly fine when I got to my trike. I told them I feel like Stirling Moss when I am on it.

A guy in one of the local bike shops told me they have loads of recumbents in Holland now. I’m not surprised it is such a bike friendly country. I had a year at school there many years ago and I used to cycle across the Hague every day to school no problem as they have separate cycle paths.

If you type ‘recumbent trike’ in youtube there are loads of clips of different types & if you want to get really nerdy ‘Spezi 2018’ (Laidback bike report) showcases all the latest designs.

New ones are pretty expensive as the gears get very fancy. I’ve got about half a dozen which is enough to get me up the ‘hill’ in my local park.

For storage it lives in the corner of the living room behind the door. It is quite long but takes up less space when upended. Last time I was getting it repaired I saw they had a folding one but I didn’t ask the price…

If your local shop doesn’t have one you might find a disabled cycling group thaT HAS one YOU can try.

Appletree I am certain I will find one. The recumbent will cost more. So the disabled cycling group is a great suggestion. One thing about PD here in the USA the disease takes its toll on your budget. (medical insurance,cost of meds)
UH money, human kind had to come up with something the world would fight over. Problem is the leaders usually send the people that have the least money in their pocket to fight for it.
Money should be made of rocks. That way people when they throw it each other, they would realize that they were throwing their money away. No more fights.

I’m 48, I’ve been diagnosed 1 year, probably had PD 10 years. I used to ride a normal city bike but had not used it for a few years due to balance issues with my drooping shoulder. I bought an electric bike, normal 2 wheel but pedal assist. It’s fantastic and does make cycling a lot easier. It flattens the hills and I feel well balanced. I only really use it in summer months, but I can easily do 20 miles on a Saturday ride, which is the distance I managed before the e-bike. You can also get an e-trike with 3 wheels ( Di Blasi R34 electric). Give cycling a try!

JonJoe I would be limited by weather as well. Nebraska (USA) weather 6 inches of snow coming today. High temps this weekend 15 far. lows 0. When driving and entering the state I live in there are signs posted. The signs read Nebraska THE GOOD LIFE! LOL! I hope the UK can come up with better signs to read when entering your home land. Nebraska kinda hard to figure out what’s good about it? When you have a chapped face from being outdoors there.

There is an alternative to the trike.

Looking to benefit from the physical exercise that cycling offers, there is one important obstacle to overcome: getting on and off the bike. For casual riding keeping the saddle in a lowered position works fine. But to gain maximum benefit from exercising hard, a saddle needs to be at a sufficient height that the legs are more of less straight when the pedal is at the bottom of its stroke. The required seat height to achieve this inevitably increases the fear of toppling over when stopping at junctions or when cycling slowly up a hill. Getting on and off the bike also becomes very challenging with stiff Parkinson’s legs.

An invaluable solution for these problems was suggested to me by my sister, a keen mountain biker. She proposed using a gadget familiar to the mountain biking community, known as a dropper post. Its purpose in mountain biking is to allow the saddle to be lowered on a steep descent enabling the rider’s weight to be shifted backwards. This proves fantastically useful to help me get on and off a bike and increasing confidence when approaching road junctions.

Dropper posts operate quite simply through a button on the handlebars allowing the saddle to be raised or lowered 10-15 cm. This adjustment of seat-height can be operated whilst in motion or when stationary. It greatly assists getting on and off the bike and gives confidence when cycling slowly, in the lowered position, then raised once some momentum has been gained, allowing powerful cycling strokes.

This simple device could allow many Parkinson’s sufferers to return to cycling, or take it up, and provide physical exercise shown to be so important. Equally important is the huge psychological benefit that cycling provides, entirely removing the limitations and frustrations inherent in walking, giving a wonderful sense of freedom and autonomy.

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