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I Want to Ride a Bicycle . . .

May 30th, 2011     by Shaunta Grimes     Comments

When I was a kid, my bike was more than a toy. It was a beautiful white beach cruiser that represented freedom and independence. Then I got a driver’s license, and a couple of years later a husband and a baby. I didn’t need my bike anymore. At least, I didn’t think so.

Cruising with Ruby. Shaunta Grimes

It took twenty years for me to get another bike. I honestly didn’t expect that once I did, I’d have the same sense of freedom. But I do. Riding my bike is not an exercise in fitness. It’s fun, and the fitness is a bonus.

Me and Betty Sunshine, having fun. Shaunta Grimes

Riding a bike is one of those things that sometimes gets taken for granted. I’ve had my new bicycle for about a week, and I’ve found myself gushing about her. I even gave her a name: Betty Sunshine. I am flat in love with rediscovering the thrill of riding.

Worksman Cycles, which made Betty, also makes these gorgeous adult tricycles.

The Worksman Personal Activity Vehicle. Worksman Cycles

They have a whole line of adaptive trikes for adults and children. In fact, they have a stated mission to make a cycles for all manner of special needs. There’s a hand-cranked bike, and one that allows someone to push from behind.

Worksman’s upright handcycle. Worksman Cycles

As a matter of fact, Betty Sunshine is sort of an adaptive bike as well. She’s not marketed that way, but she’s built in a way that lets me ride her when I’m excluded from other types of bicycles.

I’ve wanted a bicycle for a while myself, but was sure I was too heavy. Most bikes that you can buy in a big box discount store have a weight limit of 200 to 250 pounds. I weigh about 330. I’ll admit to a bunch of insecurities. I was worried about the small seat being unbearably uncomfortable for my big butt, or the frame of a bike being out of proportion to my large body and making me look like a circus clown on wheels.

I came across Super Sized Cycles when I got serious about wanting to someday complete a triathlon. Kind of hard without a bike! Super Sized Cycles offers the Worksman Newsgirl Industrial Bike (like Betty) all tricked out to work for larger people. The Newsgirl has a heavy-duty steel lugged frame and the option of a nice, big seat that is amazingly comfortable.

Betty Sunshine’s big wide seat. Worksman Cycles

Super Size Cycles also has their own creation which holds up to 550 pounds.

Super Sized Cycles Time of Your Life Bike holds up to 550 pounds. Super Sized Cycles

Here’s what I love about Worksman and Super Sized Cycles. When so much of the Western World is campaigning against childhood obesity and how all the fat people are going to die at any moment, they’re making one of the world’s most fun physical activities accessible. They understand that the best way to get people out and moving isn’t to shame them or scare them, but to make them want to. Nothing makes moving more fun than a cycle.

Worksman has an entire line of tricycles that will put the wind in just about anyone’s hair. My friend Nessie, who has cerebral palsy, says she could ride one if her shoes were attached to the pedals. And best of all, the prospect excited her the way Betty Sunshine excites me.

Adaptive cycles aren’t cheap. They aren’t available in thrift stores and garage sales for a few dollars, the way that regular bikes sometimes are. A quick look at my local Craigs List shows a couple of adult tricycles for sale, which makes me think that with a little effort you might find one for trade.

Super Sized cycles are incredibly well made, so the investment will result in equipment that will last a very long time. Maybe a lifetime.

Shaunta Grimes blogs about body acceptance and athleticism at Live Once, Juicy. She also talks about indie publishing at We Are the Freaks.

Tags: body politics, disability

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