For one reason or another, I am currently unable to drive. I am also unable to ride a bike because, like many folk who have had a stroke, my balance is appalling. It is more than two years since my stroke, 26 months since I have gone anywhere under my own steam. . .

until today . . .

If I look like a terrified toddler on its first machine, then that is really how this felt. In fact, in a way, it was my first time on wheels – – at least for the neurologically re-wired left side of my body. Having never done this before, my left arm and leg had no idea what they were doing. I have exercised on Tom’s stationary turbo trainer, but a stationary bike is very, very different to a moving tricycle.

The trike is extremely stable and sturdy – exactly what I need. The whole of my left side is much weaker than my right, and, because my left foot is so wonky and unstable it simply refuses to stay in one place. Tom tethered my left boot to the pedal with a firm clip, so I was safe to let my right side start things off. Once my right leg had picked up some steam, the left one figured out what to do.

None of this was easy – because my left arm is much weaker than my right, my steering was (ahem) a bit erratic. And the physical and mental effort needed to get my left leg to push down is quite immense – I tried and failed to get up a small hill.

But, despite all these difficulties, I was having FUN.

Moving at speed on a machine after pootling about unsteadily and very slowly for two years feels quite amazing.

I think it will be a while until I’m able to ride about on my own – but then there will be no stopping me!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend however you are spending it!

199 thoughts on “machine

  1. Hi Kate

    Great wheels! I don’t know if you know this already, but you can have the breaks on a bike rewired so that they both go to one side of the handle bars. it helped me feel a lot safer when i was learning to ride, otherwise i was only using one break. you might not need this, but just thought i would mention it!

    best, Nikki x

  2. This is brilliant! I wish you happy days tootling along and getting your strength and confidence up and then one day … you’ll be off on your own. May the wind be ever at your back x

  3. So wonderful to see how happy you are on the “trike” and wondering how much yarn will fit in the basket. Greetings from New York City.

  4. Never give up !!!
    Each time you try it will be easier.
    Best wishes from Brazil !!!! We love your patterns.

  5. I love the new wheels! There are a couple of women in my neighbourhood in Vancouver who have trikes like yours. These women both have MS and have muscular/balance challenges, but the trikes have enabled them to get through the neighbourhood with greater ease, one with 3 kids in tow! And one of my good friends across town has a trike (with a huge cargo bin for kids/groceries), tho’ she doesn’t have any neuromuscular challenges. She just loves her trike :)

  6. Well done, Kate! I tried out a tricycle a good many years ago before I knew about several of my diagnoses and before I knew I’d end up in bed/wheelchair, and I remember how exhillarating it was after a few years of having to walk very slowly and unstably with sticks/crutches, so I really can identify with how riding that tricycle made you feel!!!

    In fact, after the progression of my illness, I was provided with a powered whrrlchair, and that, too, gave me a similar exhillaratikon, after years of having to be pushed around in a small wheeled wheelchair…..the simple feeling of being able to move at my own whim and choice makes a HUGE difference, and although I don’t get out often, and even that is mostly to hospitals, just being able to move along the corridors and into places *I* want to go is a wonderful feeling!

    You keep at it, Kate, and your weaker, stroke side *will* learn to reprogramme itself, and *will* gradually get stronger all the time – this is not just the ill and disabled person in me writing, but the trained and qualified occupational therapist that I was before I became ill and disabled, and my only patient! LOL!

    I used to work with special needs kids by speciality, and it’s amazing how much your body can relearn even years after a stroke has occurred, so don’t give upp, and keep riding that trike, because you will start to see/feel a difference with your walking gait and balance, too, through using it…..besides, you look to be having so much fun, and laughter…..true belly laughter….really is the best medicine, no matter how rotten you feel, at times!

    You go girl, and please keep us updated with your progress, because seeing the photos of you on that trike has put a big smile on my face for you, today! Thanks so much for letting us in on what can be a very private and personal part of your life. x

  7. Bravo! you go girl!
    PS I am a bit stalled on the rams and yowes blanket….the thought of sewing the down the edging has me procrastinating…but I’ll get on it!

  8. Once again you inspire me as you ‘find another way’! I have no doubt you will conquer the bike in short time and be a force to be reckoned with upon it. Like others, the post brought me a smile today. Thanks…..and happy travelling.

  9. I remember how I smiled when you re-learned to swim. Same silly face on me today. I want one of these, but with a big engine on it!

  10. I have felt a very small measure of what you have as I have never driven, but got my first bike at the age of 34. Whooo the speed! The freedom!
    I hope you continue to enjoy your treadlie ( is that Aussie slang only?).

  11. oh i’m so pleased to see you challenging yourself more and more! very inspirational. and i LOVE your trike- i’ve wanted one for years. it looks splendid! i hope you have lots more fun on it soon. enjoy!

  12. Brilliant! I’m so pleased for you. I’ve been thinking about a trike too because my balance is pretty poor sometimes because of vertigo, and I used to love biking. Mmmm…very envious of your chariot.

  13. Congratulations! And that’s one good-lookin’ bike. I’m sure it will make short trips to the grocer easier, if you have that nice basket on the back!

  14. Kate you seem in top form ! Having worked in the bicycle industry before , I must say, that is one handsome looking trike ! I can see that there’ll be no turning back now, that your new medium for transport is going to bring you further and faster than your pre-stroke days, and with exercise all the same . Brilliance ! It is simply perfect. I am one hundred percent believe you that you are now unstoppable.

  15. Kate you are a wonder and I so enjoyed your joy at speeding down the lane under your own power. And as you become master of the trike you can use the lovely cage to store any purchases you might eventually acquire triking about.

  16. Once again, I have to write : Thank you so much Kate to write this. Thank you for sharing.
    It’s a great victory. Every day is a gift. And you know how to enjoy it.
    Glad to read you !
    and… Congratulations, too !

  17. I just love those Pashley trikes- I always wanted one with toddler seats when my children were small.Keep up the good work!

  18. I am amazed by your indomitable spirit! May you continue to get stronger every day.
    You are an inspiration to us all.

  19. What an amazing achievement! And what a gorgeous trike! It must feel phenominal to regain so much independence. To (ab)use the old Irish congratulatory Idiom…”More power to you elbow!” Plus the rest of your left arm, and the whole of your left leg while we’re at it! Salut x

  20. I like your yellow jacket riding past the row of daffodils. Pedaling, whether on bike or trike, is just so much fun – I’m glad you’re back at it.

  21. Congratulations! Two weeks ago I got back on my bike after my own set of problems, and for the first time in over a year, I didn’t feel like I was going to go hurtling over the cliff to the right of the road, which was never really there….Even though it’s not yet what it used to be – you’re right, it’s so much fun!

    –and even though your lovely hat is much more attractive, the bike safety instructor in me has to mention, ummm…helmet? :)

    1. Don’t mean to be a bummer but, agreeing here: even though the trike is so stable; consider a helmet please? With beauteous knitted things underneath it??!

  22. You looks happy, free and beautiful in your Yellow coat, we ride all the time I always a
    Wanted a tandem bike so I could pedal on the back and knit how about trying that?
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  23. That basket on the back will hold a lot of yarn when you next go shopping………..

    I cannot imagine how exhilarating the potential of speed and freedom must feel.

  24. This makes me smile so big! I am very glad for you, and impressed by your perseverance. Many people aren’t willing to do the hard work of recovery, especially after 2 years. Think of all the new neural connections you are making!! Awesome, just fabulous. You are my hero.

  25. Stunning! Well done you. My dad’s aunt (I guess that makes her my great aunt) is over 80 and still cycles on her tricycle every day to buy her paper and then she switches on the little motor that she has on her bike to help her home!

  26. Riding a trike is so different from riding a bike; good luck to you and I hope you have a great time on it.

  27. Simply marvellous! So practical. I still remember my three wheeler with much pleasure with its huge. I was always planning to run away from home with it, towing my pram on the back.

  28. You DO look like you’re having fun, great! I love these photos and the fact that you’re enjoying yourself outside. It is inspiring to see you on the bike and smiling.

  29. This is a great springtime story. It’s time for a tune-up for my trusty steed then I too shall be off.

    Regarding the pedalling difficulties you mention, have you considered cycling shoes that allow you to “clip in” to special pedals? They fix your feet to the pedals so you can use the energy for the up and down motions of pedalling in case pulling is easier for your left leg. You then slide the shoes off the bracket on the pedal to “unclip”.

  30. Congrats, Kate! You are an inspiration. Although we (your readers and fans) are not physically there with you as you struggle to regain your independence, know that we are with you in spirit and are rooting you on!
    I second the helmet idea. I wear one every time I ride.

  31. New to your site and just wanted to add my good wishes. May your new wheels bring you much joy! Regards from NYC.

  32. Just think how much yarn you can put in that basket. Just think that Bruce might like to ride too. This is just great anmd I wish you the best from Chicago. Be safe and well.

  33. Yay for wheels! If you haven’t done this already clipless could be helpful in keeping your feet where they need to be, as well as allowing you to pull up as well as push down on the pedals.
    Congratulations on expanding you freedom. that’s what bikes are for, even for those of us without your individual challenges.

  34. You are amazing!!! This bike is perfect hope it brings you fun and enjoyment. May strength find you everyday. :-)

  35. Incredible! Congratulations, Kate, on your victory. I do hope you have a lovely weekend, and with any luck, get out and about on your machine again soon!

  36. I love and admire how you (and Tom, I’m sure) have identified what you need to do/buy/get to keep doing the things you love. Bruce, your camper van. your trike, and I’m sure a lot of little things that you don’t show us, seem like “big investments” that some people might balk at, but when we see how much they change your life we are so happy!

  37. Congratulations Kate. You are so brave and inspiring. I only hope that if I ever have the same problems as you I can deal with them with half the courage you display

  38. Lovely to see you enjoying yourself!
    I’m a cyclist and have ridden and raced on a trike too..many bicyclists can’t manage a tricycle, because you have to counterbalance not balance.

  39. Dear Kate,
    There are tears in my eyes here, looking at your photos, because I have some inkling of your new freedom. I have poor hearing and associated lack of balance. My first time on a bike was when my husband and I hired a tandem, I was about thirty. That lead to us buying a tandem (which has in NL become our major method of transport (no car)). A few years later I wanted wheels of my own too. I got a recumbent trike (which is more sitting up than lying back) We found it through a German firm who specialise in mobility solutions. I use the bike every day for a 5km commute to work.

    Regarding helmets – a trike is quite stable, the lower you are sitting the more stable you will be. You just have to be careful of your speed when going round corners.

    All the best,

  40. Kate, I can imagine (in a small way) the sense of freedom and excitement you must have felt as you made your way along the quiet back streets of Edinburgh … all by yourself :) 10 weeks ago I smashed my ankle and lower leg while bushwalking and am trying to find that fine line between doing too much practice walking and not enough. On Wednesday I did TOO MUCH (walked about 200 meters on crutches) and have paid for it with an angry, swollen ankle, enforced bed rest and back to taking the big gun painkillers. It’s a minor hiccup compared with what you’ve faced, but it’s the first time I’ve had to totally rely on others, and I’ve found it hard. So reading about your triumphs and challenges is an inspiration.

  41. I love your bike. I love your dog. Will your dog fit in that basket if it were padded? He might jog along beside – unstoppable now, eh?

  42. So wonderful to see you out and about on the bike. This 51 year old cancer survivor is learning to ride a bike for the first time so I know how it feels.

  43. What a gorgeous post! I love that last piccie of you grinning away on your trike…. and I’m so glad you got that machine feeling back, even if it was a big effort. Hope you reward yourself with some big fat choccy eggs this weekend – you’re a star! xx

  44. What an excellent idea! We see many trikes in our city, all ages riding. We are going to tune up our bikes this weekend, and go for a spin, I took last year off riding but this year getting right back at it.

  45. Brilliant, well done, that looks like fun. What a gorgeous bike, with what looks to me like a Bruce sized space behind you. I can also picture him pulling you along dog-sled style, how would he be in a harness? :-)

  46. There’ll be no stopping you now! I can’t balance well enough to ride a bike. In my time I have even managed to over-turn a tandem, which I was told was just not possible. When we took the kids to centerparcs I was able to hire a trike and it was a magical experience… except for the hills! Why can’t trikes have gears like other cycles? ENJOY!

  47. Love your bike and so glad to see you out and riding. I agree with others that over time your left side will get this new transportation.
    A note on toe clips—in the states they have a toe clip that is 3/4 in length w/no strap. Your foot will stop in the front but could move in and out not only from pulling your foot straight back but side to side. If you can not find a pair let me know and I can send you a set from the states

  48. Your new trike is a beauty! Looking forward to seeing more pics as you master that beast… perhaps with Bruce seated elegantly atop the basket :)

  49. Oh, the joy on your face in the last shot is superb! Enjoy your new-found freedom, practice will have you doing it more easily.

    A friend of mine had a brain tumour and now rides a similar steed but hers has an electric motor in it to help on hills.

  50. Brilliant! Have to say, my husband ‘found’ your blog the other day and sent me a link to it – little did he know that I already read it regularly! He loves it too, the photography, the stories, the dog, everything!

  51. Be prepared to become even more popular as your friends discover they can load, picnics, bathers and all kinds of stuff in your basket! I wish you many happy trails and good weather to enjoy your new ride.

  52. Thank you…and I had no idea…

    I just recently found your blog. I love it. I just zoomed in on your post “machine” and read your about you and “one year ago today” post.

    You words are descriptive and powerful…and they spoke to me.

    I have recently had issue with my blood pressure. One day at work, I felt crappy (my heart was racing and making me cough). When I got home and took my blood pressure, it was 160/110. At the doctor’s office the next day, 155/105. Ugh. The bp has improved and I am now off medication and following it…but UGH. I am 41. I am healthy and active. Why?

    Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your future posts…although, all I can do is knit and purl. Follow a pattern? Not me, no way…hopeless.


    P.S. I linked to your blog and your “one year ago today” post. Hope that is okay. Not many people read my blog…but those that do would surely appreciate your posts.

  53. So happy for you, Kate! Keep up the good work! You look great in your Peerie Flooers Hat!!
    I just finished mine! Thank you, again…for inspiring me…and helping me get over my fear of colourwork….I’m about to start the next hat! :)

  54. You are moving on, from pedestrian to anything you want ! And nothing is going to stop you now ! Congratulations ! I am so happy ! Beware, people of Scots, Kate is now going to deliver her woolly wonders by herself, right on your doorstep. Chaleureuses pensées de Paris, France.
    ps And I just loooove your bike

  55. That’s fantastic, thank you for sharing this with us…..and the wheels are very stylish, I would imagine that you can put an awful lot of yarn in that basket!

  56. Oh, Kate, this is just the most wonderful thing I’ve seen.
    There really will be no stopping you now.
    Think of it as your magic carpet. YOU can take it anywhere.

    Watch Out ! ! ! ! No speeding.

    love ‘n hugs

  57. You look like you are having great fun. As someone earlier said keep at it and the bilateral exercise will help your stroke affected side. Good luck and keep having fun!

  58. Congratulations! I’m so happy that you are increasing in mobility. GREAT bike, I haven’t had a stroke but my balance is lousy and that looks like just the ticket! I am so pleased that your world is expanding with this huge step, bravo!

  59. You’re such an inspiration; and I think more of us would perhaps take up cycling if we had such a fab looking machine. I was pleased to read that you were having fun. Well done.

  60. Well done Kate …. must be a great feeling to get over another hurdle … I hope you have hours of fun on your three wheeler.

    Hope you and Tom have a lovely Easter.
    Fleur x

  61. The smiles on your face say it all! Thank you again for your writing. Your willingness to share so personally keeps drawing me back. And your knittin’ ain’t half bad, either! (as they used to say in Texas when I was growing up…)

  62. Hello,
    I am a therapist and would like to thank you, that you let us participate in your recovery. In my practice I have had very good experiences with the Biophotonentherapie in stroke patients. Ask it again, if there is a possibility in your area to deal with bio-photons leave.
    All love
    Dr. Annette Pitzer

  63. This was a beautiful thing to see on Easter Sunday. Congratulations! In the past, due to head injury I was not able to drive, and I remember how uplifting and freeing it felt to be able to do something as basic as get my own groceries again. There’s only so much I was able to carry on my bicycle – flour and milk do add a lot of bulk and weight. Your setup looks ideal.

  64. Great. This is great.Lots of comments already have said what I would say. Am really pleased for you. Confidence, independence. exercise. Enjoy.
    With best wishes. D

  65. Hey, nice to see you take the chance. I lost my hearing a couple of years ago – lost my balance, too. I can’t ride a bike, yet… (but working for it). Life is full of “mystery” challenges, and we all seem to grow, no?

    Go girl!

  66. Hello from Downunder. A friend sent me the link to your blog because she made your sheep hat. (I like to knit too but I design my own.) She did not tell me you ride a tricycle too – wheee! I will come and race you one day – if I am not too old by then!

  67. I am delighted to see you on the trike! Even though I don’t comment much I follow your blog with great interest both for the lovely knits and the progress of your recovery. And of course, Bruce. (I also have a lab)

  68. feeling the wind in your hair produced by your own steam is AMAZING isn’t it! I still love shoving my powerchair on fast, but nothing beats a bike. I loved losing tonnes of spoons on a handcrank bike in derbyshire (2 years ago now!). Now if only ediburgh weren’t hilly? Have you considered powerassist? I’ve been reading away, but rarely on my laptop and rarely without baby attached, so wanted to stop by and say hello while I had the chance.

  69. Yay ~ I hope you are enjoying the good side of feeling like a kid again. I have started riding my bike to work and for errands more in the last year — the best part is that a part of me feels about 10 years old on my bike.

    And a Pashley — wooot!

  70. woohoo! going somewhere under your own steam can’t be beat. Great to see you and your wheels. Love the basket (and I am sure Bruce does too).

  71. Oh Kate I love this, I have still not been able to get back on mu bike sine the 2009 car accident, but I’ve been thinking about it quite seriouslym lately, and now that I see you do this..I know I need to try.
    You are gonna love this even morevery soon , fantastic!

  72. ps: please excuse type errors, MCS issues again , at present, must be more careful, but I got excited for you. :-)

  73. I remain, as always, humbled by your unwaivering honesty and have gained such an amazing *respect* now that I realize just how much of a struggle many stroke survivors go through each and every day. Congrats on the trike! I hope it gives you hours of joy and freedom.

  74. Yay! I’ve got a Pashley trike – the same, except mine’s red and has a wicker basket which is a bit inpractical in the rain. It currently lives at my parents’ house but your post has made me really miss it!

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)