Van Raam produces uniquely special needs bicycles and specializes in tricycles, scooterbikes, wheelchair bikes, tandem bikes, double rider bikes, and low step trough bikes (also known as comfortbikes). Each model is also available as an electric bike (Pedelec).
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In 2008 I turned over with my bike and broke my knee. I underwent surgery during which the surgeons inserted at metal plate with ten screws into my lower leg. I had to stay in bed for 3 months because I wasn’t allowed to put pressure on my leg. I had to use a knee CPM (continuous passive motion) machine 7 hours a day to learn to bend my leg again and had to practice a lot. I walked on crutches for 6 months after the accidents and it took me a year to fully recover.
I said: I’m never going ride a bike again. But I loved doing it. My husband bought me a carrier tricycle. I dared to ride a bike again, but I had difficulty pedaling because the carrier tricycle was heavy and I was scared of the turns because I could still topple over. Six months later – I was sick and tired of this bicycle – I got back on my old bike and I was no longer scared. We sold the carrier tricycle.
In the summer of 2016 we bought a lightweight city bike without pedal support because I thought I was too young for that (57 years). In November 2016 I came close to a collision with a car and turned over with my bicycle again. This time it was my other knee; it was completely shattered. Two more surgeries followed along with a lot of pain. Another two months in bed, again the knee CPM machine. I had to walk with crutches again for 2 months and I went through another 1,5 years of convalescing. I would never again be able to kneel, squat, run or bend my knees more than 100 degrees
For two months straight I cried in my bed because I would never be able to ride a bicycle again. I loved bicycling: to my work, for groceries in town. On the weekends we loved long rides: 50 kilometers, or 30 kilometers on a summer evening.
I had recently said: “Nothing makes me happier than long bike rides. Through the meadows, past the farms, rides through unfamiliar city neighborhoods... All that would be past? I was devastated. It meant that my whole life (and that of my husband) was going to change. I would always have to ride that dull car, while I loved being outside.
Until one day my husband came home from the in-home care store with a Van Raam Brochure. The in-home care store had the Easy Rider tricycle from the brochure. When I saw the photograph of a woman riding the Easy Rider outside, I cried. I would be able to go on bike rides again! I still wasn’t able to bend my knees and walked on crutches, but we went to the in-home care store. I tried the Easy Rider but wasn’t enthusiastic because what I saw was a bicycle for “invalids”. I, the sport enthusiast, did not see myself like that.
We made an appointment at Van Raam in Varsseveld. We were helped by Nico who had a tricycle with a crank shortener readily available for me to try. The crank shortener is needed for people who, like me, can’t bend their knees properly, because it allows for a smaller turning circle. I tried the Easy Rider and the Balance. Riding the Balance went well. I loved riding a two-wheel bicycle, but my fear of falling kept my awake at night. I didn’t dare to do it. I was scared to ride the Easy Rider too and I struggled with the pedal support. I cried the entire ride back home (2 hours) because these bikes were nothing like what I was used to. The Easy Rider made me feel handicapped, but I really didn’t dare to ride a two-wheel bicycle.
I was barely able to walk with all that metal in my legs. What if I fall? What will I break then? Will I be able to walk at all? After a few weeks of overthinking, I ordered the Easy Rider, but not gladly. In the mean time I was able to, against all odds, bend my knees 130 degrees so I could do without the crank shortener. I needed the delivery time to get used to the idea, but I didn’t look forward to it. We went to get it on June 1st and I rode it home without using the pedal support as the supplier had told me. It was tough and I didn’t enjoy it at all, so I cried again.
I went for a ride with my husband every day. My physiotherapist told me to always use the pedal support. I didn’t like that we differed in height. I didn’t like that we weren’t always able to ride side by side. I tried bicycling very carefully and was scared to fall in turns or on ramps. Even on slightly sloped brick roads I was scared to fall. I felt super handicapped and constantly thought people were watching me. And everyone was so terribly nice to me. I felt like crying every time I rode my bicycle. This was so different from riding a regular bicycle.
My husband no longer enjoyed bicycling with me. I would only ride on paved roads because I was scared to fall. I said: If I still don’t like it a year from now, we will sell it.
We went on a holiday and on our way back home I thought: “Now I have to ride that bike again.” That’s when I flipped the switch and I thought to myself: “Now you’re going to enjoy bicycling and stop complaining. At least you’re able to ride a bike.” This wasn’t fun for me or my husband. I’ll stop being so afraid because there’s no way I’ll fall. That was the moment I decided to have fun with it.
I started very slowly and told my husband: “Give me time. I need to overcome my fears and regain my confidence.”
I rode my bicycle as often as possible: to my work every day, rides in town. I no longer cared that people were watching me. I thought: “They better get used to it. This is me from now on.” I even started riding on brick roads and said to myself: “There is no way I’m going to fall.”
I started bicycling faster and faster, but would slow down in turns and when going downhill. My husband and I enjoy going on long rides again. I enjoy the sun, the wind and the surroundings. It’s lovely to bike through the meadows. I bought a wicker basket for on the back of my tricycle. I’m actually happy that I didn’t buy the Balance, because I think I wouldn’t have been able to overcome my fears on that one. Now I am no longer afraid to fall.
Now I enjoy riding my tricycle. I am very happy I persevered. It’s just such an amazing bike. The seating is very comfortable and I enjoy the electrical pedal support despite still feeling too young for it (now 58 years old). Bicycling has become a relaxing activity to me. I ride my bicycle for fun and am no longer scared. I even went for a ride when it was freezing outside.
I hope my (long) story will win people over to buy the Easy Rider tricycle and start enjoying bicycling again. I hope to grow very old and take many long rides with my husband on the Easy Rider. We even think about going on a bike holiday.
I am very thankful that Van Raam marketed this tricycle because otherwise bicycling would have no longer been possible for me.
Saskia van Sprundel - the NetherlandsType: Easy rider
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