5 Mountain Trike Top Tips by Eileen Morgan
Read Eileen Morgans five top Mountain bike trike tips.
Mountain bike trike
The prospect of a lockdown-free summer presents those of us with mobility issues a wonderful opportunity to not only get outdoors on our wheels but to socialise and potentially regain some of the independence we may have lost though shielding and keeping safe.
Exploring nature in a traditional wheelchair or scooter is incredibly difficult (all that rough, uneven – and very often muddy – ground to cover) but the recent rise in ‘All Inclusive Cycle hubs’ and dedicated cycle routes makes this an altogether much easier prospect.
Having access to a Mountain Trike (and eventually being able to purchase my own) has enabled me to actively enjoy adventures to the beach, through forests and even up mountains.
While this has been tremendous fun it’s also been a bit of a learning curve, to say the least and I’m delighted to be able to share some tips and tricks on getting the most of your very own Mountain Trike experience.
The Mountain Trike and MT Evo are suitable for anyone who can propel a manual wheelchair. Many people with spinal injury find it easier to push the levers than use wheelchair hand rims – plus your hands remain clean and dry.
Good hand mobility is required in order to operate the brake levers, but if you have limited hand function the MT Evo is recommended which operates using a simple pivoting handle which operates the disc brakes by moving your arm inwards – a hand gripping aid can be used with the MT Evo.
The MT Push is manoeuvred by the riders buddy using the push handle located behind the rider, however the rider can propel using hand-rims on the wheels if required.
The electric assist eTrike can be ridden manually using the lever drives and by using the power assist by twisting the throttle when further assistance is needed. Good hand grip and dexterity is also required for the steering.
Fortunately you don’t need a shed full of tools to keep your Mountain Trike in great condition. Any cycle you own needs to be maintained and serviced regularly, if you are to ride safely and avoid costly repairs down the line and that’s also true of the Mountain Trike.
Fortunately because the Mountain Trike shares many of the features and systems of high specification mountain bikes – the core serviceable parts, hydraulic disc brakes, air suspension, gears, chain tyres etc are parts which any local bike shop should be able to carry out a service on in the same way they do on mountain bikes.
Most bike shops will fix a puncture but if you’re out and about it’s actually relatively easy, as I discovered for myself. In fact, it was far easier than I anticipated as unlike a bike, there is no fork frame, chain or gears making it difficult to remove the inner tube from the tyre.
It is of course best to be prepared and carry a small repair kit along with a small tub and a bottle of water (to find the puncture) or spare inner tube, but as an additional preventative measure I have had my tyres filled with slime, to prevent punctures spoiling my outing. As an alternative Kevlar liners can also be fitted in the tyres as an anti puncture shield. Read Eileens chester wheelers story.
In addition to experience in learning how to handle the Mountain Trike I recommend watching the video demonstrations available on the MT website. This helps to ensure riders-to-be have a good skills base before they venture out or consider purchasing an MT.
The Mountain Trike has anti-tip wheels as standard and the additional option of wearing a seat belt to help riders remain secure. It is however important to control the trike when travelling at speed especially on hills and don’t pull the brakes too hard or take sharp turns as you may lose control and tip the trike. The maximum weight of a rider should not exceed 100 kg and the seat width is fixed at 17 inches.
I also have optional fabric side guards to prevent my clothes getting dirty or caught in the wheels. I wear an Aldi cycle helmet with light and indicators which has Bluetooth connection to my phone and falls detection SOS.
A mirror is also useful to view other cycles or pedestrians from the rear especially if you have restricted head movement and a bell helps warn others you are approaching. A detachable rear rack is also useful for carrying a bag with spare clothes, equipment and refreshments and a push bar for when you might need assistance.
Lightweight (20kg) and able to fold down to a cube size of 28inches by 28inches (84 cms) the Mountain Trike will easily fit into the boot of most cars – when I first loaned the MT I had a Mini and it easily packed into the boot. If you are unable to lift the MT into a boot one of the following may help:
- Racks or trailers
- A ramp to help get the wheelchair into the boot
- A hoist that lifts the wheelchair into the boot
Start by contacting a Mobility Centre – some will have hoists and other equipment you can try before you buy and some also carry out assessments to see what kind of equipment may suit you. I have an autochair smart lifter 4 way hoist fitted in my boot. Brook Miller supplies and fits these or can advise on local authorised motorbility fitters.
We have searched for practical transport options for the Trike and found the best to be a bak-rak: a light weight tow bar mounted bike rack. Once in its folded out position the Trike sits perfectly on the rack and straps can be used to secure it.
Experience of the race
The race starts fast with a small series of rolling hills with riders hitting 35 mph+ on downhills before quickly having to sprint up the next hill, but you have to be careful not to go out to hard and start feeling fatigue too quickly as you’ve still got 9 miles to go before the finish.
The short sharp descent feels like a game of dodge the pothole whilst going as fast as you can due to the rough road surface. 3 miles in and we are onto the flatter faster section of this course wide open road with traffic giving you plenty of safe space allows you to ride as fast a possible.
My legs are starting to hurt by this point and i can see from the occasional glance at my garmin that my power numbers are down from what i would expect from this kind of effort normally. However, my speed is strong, riding at just over 28 miles an hour on a road bike. 5.5 miles in and we are making our way towards Fromsay and suddenly the roads have got noticeably narrower and the concerns are coming think and fast.
I am having to leave my braking to the very last minute and then having to stamp on the peddles to speed back up. Six miles in and I have reached the turn around a set of two small rounds about that are extremely well marshaled.
At the 7 mile mark my legs are screaming with lactic acid and I am defiantly feeling the head wind at this point. By this point, I’ve overtaken the 4 riders that started in front of me and going into the final 3 miles.
I can just about see another 2 riders about 30-40 seconds up the road. I am very thankful that they are providing me with a carrot to chase.
With just half a mile to go the riders are only about 10 seconds up the road and I am trying my best to catch them and ride as fast as I can. I keep telling myself that it is only one minute to go to just dig deep and give it everything I have got.
I’m doing everything I can to not think about how much my legs and lungs hurt I am counting the number of corners left until I hit the finish line. I’ve crossed the finish line and i can free wheel again. I make my way back to the sign on area with a few team mates, chatting about how the race was and if the wind slowed us down.
I get back to find I’ve finished 5th out of 30. Just 30 seconds away from the winner. Ouch, I guess I am just going to have to try a little bit harder next time to close that 30-second gap. Common mistakes when cycling long distances.
share your opinion – I’d love to hear your thoughts!