Slowly returning

It has been quite some time since our last post here at BikeAble, but we haven’t sat still. We’ve remained active offline helping people find the bikes, trikes, and pedalcycles of all varieties that best suit their needs.

So it is time to bring those stories back out here to the public in order for everybody to benefit, which was always the purpose of this site.

Keep an eye out, there’s more to come!

Team Can Be Venture took on RAAM

RAAM is the Race Across America, a grueling event that requires strength, stamina, teamwork, and support.  It is challenging enough for the typical riders who pedal towards the finish, but even more so for Team Can Be Venture, a team of handcyclists.

Some of the support crew have been blogging for Team Can Be Venture during the race. Take a look for access to photos and video. But this sums things up rather well:

I talked to a few members of the RAAM staff this afternoon. Each of them said how incredible Team Can Be Venture is. It got me thinking. They are an incredible group of racers (and crew – we can’t forget them). No, they are an incredible group of individuals.RAAM is simply (not to be mistaken for a simple race) an example of what these men are about. This is a hard race - ok, a very hard race for anyone, for everyone. So yes, it might be considered more difficult because the bikes weigh so much more and it’s more difficult to climb (that’s a bit obvious since it’s never been done before) – but they didn’t want an extended time allotment. They were going to do this race as they tackle everything else – by the same rules that apply for the masses.

Well done!

Lightfoot Cycles Two-Fun

Over the course of four months, BikeAble has found itself recommending one bike again and again for a variety of situations. That bike is the Lightfoot Cycles Two-Fun, a hybrid tandem that features a full recumbent trike up front and the rear 2/3 of an upright bike in the back.

lightfoot-cycles-two-fun-2

The Two-Fun is ideal in situations where assistance is required but some sense of independence is desired.  In its stock configuration, the Two-Fun has a steering system that is link to a set of grips at the rear of the front trike.  This allows for control from behind both for a second cyclist or for someone simply walking/pushing from the back (the rear bike is easily detached).

So how is it that we’ve managed to mention this tandem to so many people lately?  Simple – we’ve had questions come in from folks who have very unique situations and all of them require an assistant for propulsion and control.

lightfoot-cycles-two-fun-4The first instance was for a student who had outgrown her guided trike.  Guided trikes are relatively common for children from toddlers to early teens, but that particular market does not usually extend to products for adults.  This student, however, had reached adult size and would soon need a guided solution in order to continue her therapeutic cycling.

The Two-Fun fit the bill easily as a adult guided trike.  By removing the back bike half of the Two-Fun, the attendant is able to push the trike along using the rear grips and provide steering through the same.  The trike is able to be modified to suit the student’s positioning needs.  And, on top of that, the trike can be converted to a fixed gear transmission so that the student receives the therapeutic range of motion activity that she needs.

The second instance was for an individual who wished to include an elderly family member on rides.  The elderly rider was described as being unable to cycle indepdently.  There are a few possible solutions for this scenario (using wheelchair bikes), but the Two-Fun was the solution that had a comfortable seat height, lateral seat supports, access to pedals for what assistance the rider can provide, and the ability to become an independent trike should the elderly rider wish to attempt solo cycling at some point in the future.

lightfoot-cycles-two-fun-3The third instance was one rather close to my heart – a father/son cycling need.  The needs are slightly reversed here, though.  In this case, the father wanted to ride recumbent and maintain control of the bike while his 34 year old son with a developmental disability wanted to remain on an upright bike.  Bikes such as the Hase Pino and Bilenky Viewpoint would not work in this scenario as both place the control of the bike with the upright rider in the rear.

The Two-Fun would work well for this team as the controls from the rear could be disconnected so that the father can maintain all steering, shifting, and pace control from the comfort of a recumbent trike while his son enjoys the upright position he so desires.

Is it any wonder we keep coming back to the Two-Fun as an incredibly versatile accessible cycling solution?  Its flexibility and customizability mean that it can suit nearly any mixed ability tandem need.  On top of that, Lightfoot Cycles has a strong history of supporting special needs with a wide range of product.

Unfortunately, Lightfoot Cycles does not list the price of the Two-Fun on their site.  We do know that the Two-Fun without the rear bike runs for $3600.  Guessing from that, we would expect the full Two-Fun to cost in the $4300 range.

More information on the Two-Fun can be found at the Lightfoot Cycles web site.

Follow BikeAble on Twitter

BikeAble has four new adaptation stories in the works and updates to two of our existing stories, but until all of that is done, we’re going to start putting micro updates on the Twitter service.  There you can see what new ideas are brimming before they become well-formed paragraphs.  It’s like getting a sneak preview of site content.

You can follow us directly on Twitter.

Amputees Across America allows BikeAble to tag along

BikeAble would like to express its thanks and admiration for Joe, Luke, and Sean of Amputees Across America. They were kind enough to allow me to join them on a short stretch of their trip which also happened to end in the town I live in.

After arriving at HealthSouth, we all had some time at a podium to say a few words, toured the facility, and sat down at a luncheon with a number of the HealthSouth staff. As a result, BikeAble has now started research into possibly cycling solutions for a woman in attendance who is a quad amputee.

The local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times, covered the event. Their article follows:

Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2008

Amputee bike tour raises awareness

PLEASANT GAP — The seventh annual Amputees Across America coast-to-coast bike tour rode into town Monday, one stop along a 3,500- mile trek across America to raise awareness about maintaining an active lifestyle with prosthetic appendages.

A group of bicyclists from Amputees Across America ride down East College Avenue toward HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Center in Pleasant Gap on Monday.  

CDT photo/Christopher Weddle
A group of bicyclists from Amputees Across America ride down East College Avenue toward HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Center in Pleasant Gap on Monday.

Tour members arrived at 10 a.m. at HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Pleasant Gap and were greeted with applause from upbeat hospital workers and community members.

They also were given a check for $325 to help with expenses, compliments of HealthSouth.

“You are an inspiration to all,” said Kathi Kaber, director of marketing for HealthSouth. “Our admiration and respect for you is unspeakable.”

Joe Sapere, lead rider and coordinator of the tour, lost his left leg during a skydiving accident in 2000.

“Having a physical challenge does not mean you have to give up on life,” said Sapere. He said God helped him through his ordeal, and he has now channeled those energies into helping others.

David “D.J.” Emery, 22, a Bellefonte Marine who lost his legs in a 2007 suicide bomb attack in Iraq, attended the news conference.

Emery, who is undergoing rehabilitation at HealthSouth, said the riders inspired him. When asked if he’d consider someday riding in the tour, he replied: “Yeah, I’d probably do it.”

His mother, Connie Emery, said she wouldn’t be surprised if he did just that. “He’s still very active,” she said, adding that her son can cut the grass from his wheelchair.

Luke Myers, 19, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said riding with the tour has helped him to concentrate less on himself and more on others who need inspiration. “This bike ride is more than just a bike ride,” Myers said. “We’re doing something for other people.”

Myers, a volunteer firefighter, lost his right leg to injuries sustained in a 2002 car accident. Even with his prosthetic leg, he said he fights forest fires and leads a normal lifestyle.

“When I first lost my leg, I thought to myself: ‘I’m a freak show,’ ” he said. That attitude changed after meeting Sapere and other members of the tour at a rehab center in his hometown.

Sean Brame, 12, of York Haven, is the youngest member of the tour. He joined the crew Monday and will go as far as New Jersey. He lost both of his legs, his right hand and three fingers on his left hand after suffering from a rare disorder caused by a broken ankle. The injury led to internal blood poisoning.

It happened during a soccer game in April 2005. After an 11-week stay in an intensive care unit and another 11 weeks in rehab, Sean eventually received his prosthetic legs.

“When this first happened, I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything,” he said.

Having a good attitude and moving on is key, he said, adding that the biggest thing he’ll miss about losing his legs is not being able to drive at 16.

“You want to get away from your mom sometime,” he said, laughing.

Sapere said losing his leg has actually created many new opportunities for him. Emery said he’s experienced that too.

“I’ve had more people call me with opportunities to do stuff than ever before,” he said. “People call to ask me to go on fishing trips and I have even had someone ask me to drive a NASCAR (vehicle) with hand controls.”

Riding with Amputees Across America

On July 28th, BikeAble will be joining Amputees Across America for a short leg of their 2008 tour.  The ride starts at 9:30 and will end at HealthSouth Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Hospital in Pleasant Gap, PA.

Once at the center, BikeAble will be showing a small variety of bikes, trikes, and adaptive equipment from Hase.  We will also be attending a luncheon during which we will give a brief talk and Q&A about adaptive cycling.

If you live in the central Pennsylvania region and wish to support the AAA riders, plan to join in on the festivities at HealthSouth.

ONE-OFF Titanium – the mountain handtrike

Image of ONE-OFF rider on trail, gritting his teethI was recently contacted to do research into a variety of handcycles. The parameters were fairly straightforward: satisfactory gear inch range; adjustable foot rest position; seat that won’t be a problem for spine curvature.

That sent me off on a search for a good solution, a search that pretty much ended with the Hase Kettwiesel handcycle. But I didn’t want to stop there. A little more digging turned up the ONE-OFF Titanium, a full blown mountain bike/trike that puts the rider in a prone position.

The core advantage of the ONE-OFF is instantly recognized: it is an off-road handcycle. In the niche that is handcycling, most cycles are either for racing or for casual use. Nobody tackles the handcycling equivalent of mountain biking. What’s amazing is that the ONE-OFF hasn’t been more widely copied since its introduction.

So what are the other advantages of the ONE-OFF?

It offers a prone position, allowing the rider to put their body weight into stabilizing the trike. That body weight serves a second purpose – it can also control steering. The torso cushion of the ONE-OFF rests on a pivot that links to the steering. Lean to the left and you’ll turn left. Lean to the right, turn right. The result is the ability to turn the trike without having to let up on the pedaling.

Photo of back side of ONE-OFF handtrikeThe ONE-OFF also allows steering through the handles to which the brake levers are mounted. This allows the rider to switch to a more stable control mechanism for high speed descents. It also provides a resting point for the hands should the rider want to flex a bit and relieve some of that torso pressure.

Unfortunately, the ONE-OFF site doesn’t provide much more detail about the specs of the bike. No word on gear inch range, types of disc brakes, wheel sizes, or availability through third parties. Judging by the contact info on the ONE-OFF site, all ONE-OFF handcycles are made to fit the rider’s specifications.

If you’re a handcyclist who knows there’s more to trail riding than riding rail trails, the ONE-OFF is probably worth some investigation. No other handcycle that we know of will get you up a mountain.

For those who might be interested, included below is a YouTube video showing a method of transferring into and out of the ONE-OFF.

The challenges of Alzheimer’s and bicycling

Photo by Auntie P @ flickrWhen we think of cycling and limitations, we often consider the physical limitations of riders. We rarely consider conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

It is widely known that Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) affects the memory of those afflicted, but it is not commonly known that as AD progresses, functions of balance and movement can be affected. These present an interesting challenge for those wishing to cycle in the midst of AD.

As with most issues of balance, we look to the recumbent tricycle as the logical solution. Recumbent tricycles (and quadcycles) remove the dependency on rider balance that bicycles require. AD patients suffering from physical imbalance certainly can benefit from a trike, but there’s a unique issue that comes into play.

AD sufferers might not remember how to ride a bike. The old adage that “once you learn, you never forget” does not apply here. Once seated upon a bike or trike, a person with AD might find that they no longer understand the basic mechanics of cycling. While it might be easy enough to quickly retrain them on pedaling, the complexities of shifting are not so easily retained.

There are three ways to address this. First, use a trike that uses a single gear with a freewheel. There’s no shifting involved. Second, invest in an automatic transmission system. Shifting will happen without requiring operator intervention. Third (and likely easiest), shift into a moderate gear combination such as the middle ring at the front and the middle cog in the rear, and then tape the shifters into place so that they can’t be adjusted.

That third option sounds simplistic, but it is an actual solution used by a man for his wife with AD. Until my conversation with him, I had not really considered the impact of AD on bicycling.

A diagnosis of AD does not mean that a support family should take away a bike, replace it with a trike, and seize up the shifters. Take things one step at a time as the disease progresses, and make changes only as the symptoms of progression demand them.

If you find yourself at that point and are considering a move to a trike, try to avoid configurations that will be wholly alien to the rider. Tadpole trikes in particular will be sufficiently unfamiliar as to introduce further confusion. Look instead to delta trikes with over seat steering, perhaps along the lines of a chopper bar. If necessary, a trike could be modified for a coaster brake if the rider is unable to remember to use the available brake levers.

The primary requirement will always be patience. If you’re working with a patient or loved one with Alzheimer’s, take the time to determine whether or not they want to continue riding. Take the time to determine what levels of cycling they can still process. And take the time to find a solution that fits them best. The point of putting an Alzheimer’s sufferer to pedals is to enhance their quality of life, not to frustrate them further.

It may very well be that, in time, they will no longer remember the fun they had getting out for a few rides. But while they can still ride, they’ll at least experience joy those days.