Pedaling with Parkinson's - Trike Returns Him to the Trail

Eldon Olson has enjoyed an active life. He was an avid skier and biker for over 35 years.

Then he was struck with Parkinson's disease.

"I could hardly walk," said 73-year-old retired insurance agent from Buffalo. "When I checked into the Mayo Clinic three years ago they saw parkinson's in my face. The most important thing the doctors told me was to remain as active. The less you use your legs, the less you will be able to use your legs."

He gave it a test ride and discovered peddling the Trike was easier than walking.

"He came in looking for furniture and left with a bike," said Hoigaards Sales Associate Linda Lemke. "We asked him if he wanted to try it on the LRT trail behind our store, he loved it. It was like a gift. He got his freedom back."

Olson was concerned he would get tired on the Trike and not be able to return. Lemke and Hoigaards back shop found a battery operated electric motor that would fit in a basket between the rear wheels.

The motor and battery cost about $600 and run for 20 miles before needing to be recharged in a standard outlet. The motor can drive the trike up to 23 mph.

Lemke said they have been several customers with physical limitations going to recumbants.

"Recumbents reduce the balance issues because they are low to the ground, so you can put your feet down. They are more comfortable because there isn't the pressure on the hands and you're pushing off the backrest rather than defying gravity."

Lemke also said recumbents are safer because people can look around and they can't go over the handle bars.

She also noted recumbents use the large muscles of the legs more efficiently. This is why Olson finds it easier peddle his recumbent than to walk.

Olson has been riding his Trike on the paved city trails of Buffalo. The third week of September he triked on the Heartland Trail between Nevis and Dorset.

He pedaled the trike on his own until he came to a hill or tired. He then pushed a lever on his handle bar and the motor took over. He can move up to 12 mph with the motor.

"It feels so good to be back on the Heartland Trail again," said Olson. "I love this trail, the scenery, the town and besides it so easy to pedal."

Lemke said Hoigaards has outfitted customers limited by Multiple Scorousis, strokes and even blindness.

A blind couple purchased two quadribents, which are two recumbents joined together. They have their children steer and they peddle.

They have also outfitted recumbents with the gearing on one side of the bike for stroke victims.

According to Lemke, recumbents are a way to make recreation more inclusive.

Olson agrees, "This trike is like a gift," said Olson. "It feels so good to be out on the trails again, enjoying the outdoors. I love it."