Goldwing, disability, trike, scooter, police
On A Wing And A Prayer
Putting One Metal Foot In Front Of The Other And Getting Back On A Bike.
My first thought when I lost my legs was, "wow that hurt." My second thought was perhaps more relevant, "how do I ride my bike now?"
Having managed to do just that I thought it might be nice to share some information and tips on what to ride and how to ride it. The information shared here is not all strictly advisable but hell if you still want to be back on a bike before you've even learnt how to walk again, you won't really care, will you? If you do care then please carefully navigate away from this page, sit in the corner of a darkened room, think for a moment, then give yourself a slap. Having done that come back to this page to remind yourself it's worth it.
The first thing to know is that you don't need legs to ride a bike or trike, arms are useful but if you didn't have arms you would not have got onto this site in the first place, so I'm taking it as read that I am dealing with someone who has at least one fully functioning arm. Two are better but not essential, as we will see later.
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Bike Or Trike
On A Wing And A Prayer
The short answer of course is both. It's not that simple though. I need a bike because I need to be leaning into bends when the fancy takes me. The problem is I cannot handle a heavy bike anymore, mainly due to non bending ankles, so I got myself a little Lambretta tribute act, which is fun. It's only a 125c but in the next month or so it is going to get a 180cc kit fitted, with sports exhaust and bigger jets in the carb. This will enable it to keep up with most mid sized bikes but without being able to stop like them unfortunately. You just gotta look further ahead in such a situation I guess. Even with a decent top speed, comfort is an issue for those longer journeys and this is where the trike comes into it's own. Okay, you can't lean it, well I did once actually, but I won't be doing that again in a hurry, but you can cruise all day long on it.
There are a number of important things to remember when you buy a scooter. The most important of these is that you are going to get your head kicked in at some point by a bunch of bikers. Another thing, though less significant, is that you will need to buy a few new outfits because if you are going to be treated like and suffer like a mod, you may as well look like one. People will also assume that you like The Who so you must always be ready, at the drop of a hat, to explain that you actually like The Jam.
Gearshift ---- TRIKE ADAPTATIONS ---- Back Brake
On my trike I cannot operate the gearshift or the back brake because I cannot bend my ankles to do so. Such problems can be overcome at little expense. For the gearshift you need to join NABD (National Association for Bikers with a Disability). They will then pay for a KLIKTRONIC handlebar gearshift (not including fitting).
Once you have persuaded a mate to fit it for you, that's you ready to go, but not to stop. On such a heavy trike as a Goldwing you need all the braking you can get and cannot simply rely on the hand operated front brake. I looked at all sorts of engineering options for the safe use of my foot brake and came up with nothing free or cheap. I then had a eureka moment and simple cut the front of my right foot off so I could stand on the brake pedal. This incurred the wrath of Hull limb centre, but hey ho, you gotta be able to stop haven't you.
When It All Goes Hee Haw
If you have lost both your legs for no good reason then you must consider the possibility that you are either very unlucky or very stupid. Unfortunately for me, I am both and it therefore stands to reason that things will continue to go wrong from time to time.
My first major challenge came in Holland in 2014. Having set off with two perfectly good arms I found myself facing a return trip across the country one good arm short. As I explained earlier, I use a KLIKTRONIC gearshift with my left hand and this makes that hand rather busy at times what with controlling volume, indicators, clutch, CB radio and lights along with the up and down gear changes. It therefore goes without saying that not having use of this hand is problematic, mainly for the right hand which thought it was only in charge of throttle, front brake, award winning show lights and cruise control.
It is however possible to ride a Goldwing trike on the foreign side of the road, while towing a trailer, with only one working limb.
At this point however you have become a danger to yourself and others, but not to worry, being a biker is hard and then you die. The key is to set the cruise control to 'on' before taking your hand from the right side to the left. This enables you to pull in the clutch while maintaining speed and flick the gear change button. The speed control switches off when you pull in the clutch but having it on before doing so does buy you valuable seconds in the event of any other road user being on the same road as you at the same time.
Riding with one arm out of action is nothing compared to riding when your caravan wheel lets go without warning, apart from the ten minutes of hot, dry, ungreased screeching that could have been heard if The Ramones hadn't been playing so loudly.
I cannot tell you the exact sequence of events that occurred on the way back from the Wing Ding that marked my first caravan outing because I had other things on my mind at the time. I do recall getting a bit of a 'wobble' on and my left arm being pulled out of it's socket. Apart from that, nothing.
Once I had come to a 'safe' stop I sat still for many moments of contemplation before looking behind me to see the caravan at a strange angle. Once I realised the wheel had come off my first and only thought was, "I wonder where it is?" It occurred to me that I might have to walk back along the road to find it, which was disappointing because it might be far and I might get tired. However, here's where I got a lucky break. You see, if your house gets burgled you'll be lucky to see a cop within a month but if you block the inside lane of the A64, they will be all over you in minutes.
A policeman was duly dispatched to find my wheel and the AA had me recovered onto a tow truck within a few hours of going to the wrong location. The wheel has since be treated to some grease and refitted and has been to Scotland and back without a hint of coming off.