Rediscovering the Freedom of Bicycling

Michelle Chauvin on a shopping trip with her Port-O-Trike.

by MICHELLE CHAUVIN 
Sterling Heights, Michigan

Bike riding is something I’ve always enjoyed. After my husband and I were married, we would drag our bikes down the stairs from our third-floor apartment for a four-mile ride and run every day after work.

Seven years later we had our son, and two years after that our daughter followed. Family bike rides became the norm on the weekends. We would seek out different parks and trails to ride—a great way to spend family time.

It wasn’t until the kids were about 10 and eight years old that I noticed a slight decline in my endurance when I rode my bike. It was harder to keep up with my family, and the bike rides were becoming shorter.

Having been diagnosed at age 12 with FSHD, I felt lucky that I had been able to ride a bike as long as I had, but sad that soon I might not be able to ride with with my husband and kids. When I began to need help lifting my feet onto the pedals, I knew that time was probably at hand.

To keep up, I knew I needed a change. At first I tried an electric Razor moped with a seat. That worked fine until my arms collapsed onto the handlebars during a ride, twisting the steering column, and landing me face-first on the asphalt.

About this time, my dad had purchased an electric, two-wheel bike. I thought the idea of a power-assisted bike was great, but I still had the problem of how to balance the bike while lifting my feet onto the pedals when I took off. That’s when I thought about a three-wheel, electric-assisted trike.

After doing some research I found a company in New York called Worksman Cycles. They produce a lightweight, small-wheeled, quality-built electric trike. It’s called an electric Port-O-Trike, and this bike isn’t your grandpa’s bike!

At my age, I really did not want a bike that looked like an old-style trike. With its scaled-down tires, its motor inconspicuously hidden in the front wheel hub, and a cool choice of colors, I was actually pretty excited to try it out! As an added bonus, this trike folds in half for portability.

No doubt these bikes run a little on the pricey side (an average electric trike runs about $1,200), but the thought of rejoining the family on bike rides outweighed that hefty price tag. I was ready to put the order in, when I decided I should probably check local online sales first. A local search on Craigslist found the exact same Worksman Cycle for sale, barely used, for $900.

My husband and I went to check it out and were pleasantly surprised at its appearance and ease of use. I took it for a test drive, and minutes later we were loading it up into our minivan. The only adjustment I made was to add a backrest for more support.

There are a few other things to consider when thinking about purchasing this bike, like foot straps for the pedals, and whether or not a seatbelt might also be needed. A belt can easily be wrapped around a backrest to keep the rider secure and balanced.

With an electric bike also comes the choice of either a lead acid or lithium ion battery. I have a lead acid battery, which is less expensive but also twice the weight of a lithium ion battery.

In addition to the Port-O-Trike, Worksman Cycles also sells many other adaptable bicycles, including two-person bikes. The trike easily handles both paved pathways and dirt roads. As long as the rider feels secure on the trike, he or she should be able to handle both.

In this past year, my trike has seen more than its fair share of mileage—from local trails to Yellowstone, to Colorado Springs. For me, the freedom of jumping back on wheels and being able to once again hit the trails with my family has proved to be priceless.

Link to Worksman Cycles Port-O-Trike

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