When I Googled off-road wheelchairs, most of the results were big electric scooters, and as many of you know, it's really important to me that I get exercise, so powered vehicles aren't my thing. Then I found the Mountain Trike website. They've updated their site since then, and now the first thing you see is the price. I had to search for prices and I nearly gave up when I found them. It seemed too expensive. However, I did want to try one out, so I kept searching. That was when I found Experience Community, a Huddersfield-based group that are about getting disabled people into the countryside.
Back in January, we were supposed to be going on holiday but had to cancel, as I was too unwell. Later in the week, however, I felt up to some day trips, so we had a drive over to Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield, to try out a Mountain Trike. The guys at Experience Community were absolutely great. It helps that some of them are also active wheelchair users, so one of them showed me how to use the trike and took us for a walk along the canal bank. By the time we got back, I was sold!
How it works
The main difference between the trike and a normal wheelchair is that you propel it using levers. The advantage of this, is that you don't get wet, dirty hands and wrists when it's wet. It also means that you can pretty much get across any surface. The wheels have got huge tyres with big grippies that are perfect for mud, grass, sand, etc. The mechanism makes it much easier to progress over uneven ground than in a normal chair. Plus, it's got mega-suspension that takes out all the bumps and vibrations, to make it really comfy.
In my normal chair, going up steep hills can be a little scary, as the centre of gravity makes it want to tip over backwards. Going down is fantastic though - great fun! Well, the mountain trike is the opposite. Going uphill, though slow and hard work, is great. The trike feels very secure and even on steep hills, it shows no signs of tipping, mainly because the trike wheel is at the back. Going downhill, on the other hand, is quite scary! The brakes do help but any thoughts of sailing down at high speed, in manner of rollercoaster, have to be totally suppressed! It's quite hard to brake gently and when I brake, I get thrown forward, which is what those little front wheels are there for. They stop me falling too far forwards.
So, if you like getting out and about and don't want to be restricted to concrete and asphalt paths, I strongly recommend this piece of kit! Rather cheekily, I got mine second hand off eBay, but I would certainly use the guys at Experience Community, and I've already had it into them for a gold service.
Thanks to my brother-in-law, Graham, for the photos.