Electric Cranks, cycling together into brighter days

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Electric Cranks

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Self-labelled as “e-humans” Electric Cranks is an inspiring group of pre and post-op heart and lung outpatients. Using electric bikes the Wythenshawe-based group aims to encourage physical and mental recovery through cycling in the great outdoors with a shared sense of comradery.

Last month we joined the group to hear about their experience and see what they get up to…

“Thanks to the joys of electric bikes” – Video Transcript

We are the Electric Cranks. The Electric Cranks are a unique group of cyclists. We’re all heart patients from Wythenshawe Hospital. Most of us have received a device called an LVAD, which is basically a heart pump that takes over the functioning of our hearts, which, for various reasons, have ceased to function. So, we’re only alive because we got LVADs.

We decided some years ago to form ourselves into a cycling group. We have recruited a growing number of people, and we go out and do all sorts of crazy things on two wheels, thanks to the joys of electric bikes. We have quite different stories. I think that’s quite important to mention. It’s probably a good idea to share how we all ended up in the hospital. Yeah, they are very different stories.

I was just working too hard, basically, and then going home in the evening and trying to keep fit as well. I was just working my heart too hard, and that’s why it just packed in, and I ended up on the floor. After 42 days in the hospital, I came out with this LVAD, and the consultants all recommended cycling. Then I realized there was a cycling club at Wythenshawe Hospital, and they had e-bikes. Once I got on the e-bikes, I never looked back. I was like, “Wow, this is a completely different culture to being on the manual bike.” That’s why we love e-bikes. We can understand people think it’s cheating, but when you’re a disabled person and you get on the e-bike, and you get your life back and your freedom back, it’s fantastic.

My story is almost the complete opposite. I was diagnosed with heart failure many years ago, in 2001 initially. After the initial diagnosis, I was able to lead a pretty normal life for many years, but over a period of time, it just got worse and worse. The nature of the cardiomyopathy I was suffering from was that the heart becomes enlarged and weaker. It was becoming critical. I was referred to Wythenshawe, and that basically made all the difference. They told me my heart was knackered and that I needed a new heart, needed a heart transplant, but I was too ill to have a transplant. I was in the hospital, and they put the LVAD in, which saved my life.

Through some really excellent post-hospital physio care and then through joining up with the Cranks, I’ve been able to reestablish a decent level of physical fitness and strength. I’ve been able to do things that I thought I’d never be able to do, like walking up on high ground and hills. All of that had seemed gone forever, but electric bikes have brought all of that back within my reach and more. The idea that I would do a three-day coast-to-coast bike ride, which was always one of my ambitions before I got ill—I thought I’d never be able to achieve that. But thanks to e-bikes, we’ve done it. We’ve done it more than once, and we keep on looking for new challenges and enjoying the ride as well as the view.

I met these guys last year, leapt on an electric bike, and had a go. I thought, “Oh, this is for me.” Then the opportunity of borrowing the Volt bike for a few months came up, and I jumped at it. I met Bob and went for a cycle. Some of it was a bit steep, but most of it was great. I’ve been cycling it around slightly flatter places than this around New York, and that’s really been great. I’ve very much enjoyed having the VOLT e-bike for the last few months.

eBikes included in this video:

VOLT Pulse hybrid e-bike

VOLT Burlington step through e-bike

VOLT Metro LS folding electric bike