A tandem trike for Eagle Mount BillingsJuly 1, 2023
By Lynn Mullowney Cabrera – Executive Director
The gift of a TerraTrike from the GoHawkeye Foundation was an important addition to the cycling program for Eagle Mount Billings. In our work providing adaptive recreation for youth and adults with disabilities, we often need the ‘just right’ solutions for our participants.
The TerraTrike was that ‘just right’ solution for Trace, whom we first met at our 2021 Summer Bash, a community outreach event. This blonde 10-year-old boy of slight build was at the park with his family. When he saw our staffer giving rides, he ran immediately to the TerraTrike for his ride….and wouldn’t get off!
His parents shared that Trace had autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability that made social communication and interaction difficult for Trace. He had never before ridden a bike, ASD making it difficult for Trace to learn, move, or pay attention. His parents were surprised and thankful that Trace could participate in our cycling program and signed him up on the spot. Trace, now 12, still rides with us – thanks to the TerraTrike and your generosity. The benefits for Trace are immeasurable, including successful social engagement and a sense of accomplishment and adventure.
We received the TerraTrike in 2019 and initially trained our staff and interns on its proper use. While simple to operate, they found turning without tipping difficult. We trained ten interns and two staff on the TerraTrike and have since served five youths and adults with disabilities using this equipment. Volunteers employ the ABC Quick Check before each cycling outing, and a local partner, Scheel’s Sporting Goods, provides regular maintenance.
The TerraTrike is best suited for someone who has been fitted on it, as frequent adjustments to serve a variety of riders are time-consuming. It can be challenging to alter the settings to accommodate different-sized riders. Removing chain links is required to shorten or lengthen the cycle’s frame. The TerraTrike doesn’t provide adequate trunk support for those with low or no muscle tone. We created a makeshift seatbelt with a gait belt to safeguard our riders and retrofitted the pedals with Velcro fasteners to accommodate leg spasticity. The cycle’s handles are not well-placed nor well-designed for those with cerebral palsy but work well for those with ASD.
While the TerraTrike has limited utilization in our program, it is an invaluable option for participants like Trace. His parents relish this opportunity for Trace to ride. They enjoy a drink on the patio of a restaurant adjacent to our bike path and wave as Trace rides by. For Trace and his parents, there is little more gratifying. As we continue to expand our cycling program to serve even more individuals with physical disabilities, we are grateful to have the TerraTrike.