by Melody McLaren
Ian (now 74) has enjoyed cycling pretty much all his life. This photo taken at the end of a 1991 London-to-Paris charity bike ride for the NSPCC (where Ian was then Corporate Fundraising Director) features (left to right) Laurie Grey (who supported us on today’s test drive of the trike), Ian, friend Graham Whatley and myself.
However, in 2000 Ian was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and, despite having Deep Brain Stimulation surgery in 2009 which mitigated many of his symptoms, wasn’t able to ride independently for much longer after that as his balance deteriorated and he began having falls, on and off the bike. Ian desperately wanted to ride again and, as I’d had a friend who was a keen cyclist who was able to ride a tandem after being diagnosed with brain cancer, I started Googling and found Charlotte’s Tandems on the web and on Facebook. Although we’d been offered a tandem bike by Steve in Hertfordshire, our friends, family and carers thought that Ian would not be able to balance sufficiently well to ride it.
Alex Reeves- you offered the option of a tandem trike and, with the support of Laurie and wife Deborah, we got ourselves from Potters Bar to Dursley (via Shrewsbury) to arrange a test drive.
Thanks to your ingenious tweaks of the handlebars, seat and pedals, it was possible for Ian to ride with you (as my legs were a bit too short) and he said afterwards that he felt “great!!!”. I keep staring at the video of the test, almost unable to believe that it actually happened for Ian today.
Thank you so much for your positive support. And we look forward to trying a different sized trike so I can ride with Ian as well!
An interesting postscript to Ian’s tandem trike test drive is that he gained unexpected confidence from it and actually walked through Hatfield House Park today. Ian has not walked through the park in several years and in recent months could only travel through the park by the wheelchair in which I pushed him. Admittedly he has started a new medication regime which is having a positive effect but this was only meant to improve cognition and memory, so the uptick in mobility was not expected.
By the way, Ian’s neurologist was VERY surprised when she saw the tandem trike video which I sent her as she’d seen Ian for a checkup back on 16 August at Queen Square and he was confined to his wheelchair. Kudos to you (again) for helping open this new chapter in Ian’s life.
Here Ian stops to rest on an old tree trunk, having just walked down and then up this long path from Hatfield House into the West Garden. He announced he wanted to amble all the way down to the lake but I enforced a rest stop to conserve energy for both of us as we haven’t done this for a very long time, especially without the wheelchair. He was finally persuaded that, having walked down the path he would have to walk up again, we should return to the entrance and find something nice to eat and drink instead.