Here at VOLT™, we’ve been fortunate to hear a number of stories of how our electric bikes have made a difference in the lives of our fellow cyclists. Amongst these accounts is that of Wesley, a professor who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014. See how Wesley’s Pulse X has helped him reclaim his independence and adopt a new sense of freedom in getting around.
I was used to leading an extremely busy and active lifestyle up to 2014 when everything changed overnight. I had a sudden illness which then either triggered or accelerated a latent Parkinson’s condition.
As the weeks progressed, this rapidly worsened to the point that I was no longer allowed to drive through extreme fatigue, and I had to retire on the grounds of ill health. Getting around became very difficult as we live in the Peak District, and I became completely reliant on other people (usually my wife) to get me out and about.
Following a recommendation from my GP, we joined a support group for those with Parkinson’s, which was useful in many ways, including being able to participate in activities tailored to those with the condition and regularly share experiences with others affected by Parkinson’s and their careers. Various people help out with the running of the group, including a retired neurology nurse who is also a keen cyclist.
We were discussing my problems regarding getting out and about and the fact that I used to be a keen cyclist a long time ago. He suggested that I may want to look into electric bicycles as he was aware of a few people with Parkinson’s who have nevertheless still been able to cycle. Apparently once they start pedalling their bikes, problems with balance can often (not always) improve, and he explained that the power assistance provided by an electric bike could help with the fatigue situation in my case.
Getting an eBike
A friend duly lent me an electric bike to try out. Sure enough, I found that, while it could be a struggle getting onto the bike, once I was on it and started moving, I was okay.
I did some research into the various types and models of electric bikes available and decided that the VOLT™ Pulse X would be ideal for my purposes, particularly with the longer battery range available on that particular model. The nearest dealer arranged a test ride one afternoon after which the purchase was duly made along with various accessories, including helmet and elbow padding for the various occasions I anticipated falling off!
After my first trip out with my wife following me on a conventional cycle, she found she could easily keep up with me on the flat, but once we came to any hills, the electric bike would leave her behind very quickly. She happily decided to invest in a VOLT™ Kensington so she could ride with me.
We changed our family car for one which could carry my wheelchair and also fit a substantial bike rack for the two electric bikes, and this enabled us to use the bikes further from home.
‘A New Lease of Life’
The Pulse X has given me a new lease of life. I think that only those who have lost their mobility can fully appreciate the pleasure that accompanies powered self-travel. On some days, I do have difficulty getting on the bike, but as long as I only try to use it on my better and average days, I am okay. The luggage facility allows me to safely carry my medications, basic first aid equipment, food and water supplies and a lightweight folding walking stick, so my most basic needs are well catered for.
Getting my freedom back through the electric bicycle experience has been tremendous, and I spend a large amount of time grinning to myself when travelling on my bike. I never use the bike without selecting at least an average amount of electrical assistance; otherwise I would become too fatigued too quickly to get very far at all.
I can however turn the pedals around with no or minimal load as the bike travels along, which gives me an appropriate level of workout as desired. I therefore have absolute control over the amount of effort I need to put in, which guarantees that I will be able to get back to our car at the end of each trip (although finally getting off the bike at the end of a trip can be a different matter entirely!).
Using the Pulse X
I tend to use the bike for two types of activity: short local journeys on quiet roads, such as visits to the GP, and for trips out on the various off-road cycle tracks we have in the Peak District and surrounding area – for example, the Monsal Trail, the Tissington Trail, etc. We tend to avoid busy roads though, given my instability.
Since we started to use our electric bikes, there has been a considerable amount of interest from others attending the Parkinson’s support group. We have gone on very successful short cycle trips with others from the group, and a number of people from the group are planning to come over to our home to borrow our bikes and try them out for themselves with a view to purchasing their own if they find that they can manage to ride them safely as I have done.
While it is inevitable that not everyone with Parkinson’s will be able to cope safely with an electric bike, a number of people so affected undoubtedly will, and if they get half as much pleasure as I have done from the electric bicycle experience, it will be an extremely worthwhile purchase to them.
Have a story of your own to share? Get in touch, and we’ll feature it on our blog.