Looking for a special needs bicycle (blog post)
Late March Lilian van Zandbrink visited Van Raam together with her mother. Her mother’s freedom of movement has been becoming more and more limited, which is why she went on the look for a special needs bicycle. She tried 3 different bicycles in our showroom and the Easy Rider tricycle was the best fit for her. Lilian wrote a blog post about her experience at Van Raam.
Lilian van Zandbrink’s blog post. She originally posted this article in Dutch on her own website.
Bicyclist at heart: Blog by Lilian van Zandbrink
Looking for a special needs bicycle
We are at Van Raam in Varsseveld; we’re looking for a bicycle for my mother: one with three wheels. Her freedom of movement is becoming more and more limited.
She has ridden countless kilometers on her regular bicycle with 3-4-5 gears. Years after my father’s death she ‘allowed’ herself to ride his electric bicycle. She was 76 years old and her body was slowly starting to deteriorate. She has ridden another 20,000 kilometers on his electric bicycle. With pedal support power assistance she biked daily and through all weather conditions. Due to her physical deterioration she was able to bike less far than what she was used to. She enjoyed every kilometer. “It will not lessen my worries, but it makes me feel lighter,” my mother once said. Bicyclist at heart.
Scared there is no bicycle in the world for her to go oustide on
Now we are at Van Raam with professionals who know what we need. No one would better understand her need for mobility. They greet my mother by her name at the door and keep it simple: “The only thing we want is for you to be at ease on the bicycle."
They took their time for her. The third bicycle is the one: the Easy Rider. There she sits: She is relaxed and is leaned backwards while listening to Jurgen, one of Van Raam’s advisors.
You have to get to know every new product. You have to dare to let go in order to hold on to something new. Jurgen guarded her from overkill. He explained it all to her in 3 / 4 simple steps and kept repeating them in a calm and friendly way. He grabbed her hand so she wouldn’t hurt herself squeezing the steering wheel.
Not only is my mother scared to fall; her biggest fear is that there won’t be a bicycle in the world for her to ride on.Lilian van Zandbrink
Bicyclist on two or three wheels. As long as you are at ease on a bicycle
At the parking lot outside we practice steering, braking, getting on and off the bicycle and keeping her focus straight. I’m wondering what’s the difference between this and the school for racing-cyclists. There is barely a difference.
The way Harmen works with bicyclists isn’t much different from the way Jurgen works with cyclists on a tricycle. He strictly forces my mother to focus, but is simultaneously kind to her. With his endless patience and humor he keeps my mother’s heartbeat on a normal level. Harmen wants to teach someone to enjoy race bicycling (again). Jurgen wants my mother to be at ease on her bicycle again.
This is something the average race-biker, with his expensive equipment, funky outfits, focus in the distance (not to say compulsively) and high speed, could learn from.
What is the difference? Nothing is different about the class itself, conquering ones fears, abolishing old habits, or about the world that unfolds itself to her with every extra meter she perserveres.
My mother is wound tight, her little knuckles are white and her feet keep reaching for the floor anxiously. The name “Easy Rider” is brought up again. The bicycle supports her like a tendril supports a plant. Slowly but surely her confidence grows and she keeps her feet on the pedals.
Jurgen lets her ride through the factory to boost it even more: a little track! Van Raam is wonderful Dutch manufacturer of which everyone from de Achterhoek is very proud. This is appropriate because their products are absolutely wonderful.
All these impressions invite my mother to start bicycling little by little.
Love for bicycling in all its simplicity
This blog is about love for bicycling: that of Van Raam, my mother, the school for race-biking and all the people I’ve met in the past years who ride their bicycle just because they can. This blog is against all physical disabilities. On two or three wheels and with one or two pedals. Because it makes them exceptionally happy.
This is about love for bicycling in all its simplicity: enthralled in your soul because not being able to go out makes you deeply unhappy. A love so big that acceptance of having to ride a tricycle is subordinate to the will to ride a bike. To be independent and mobile, because, Jurgen points out, (reality check) nobody, really nobody rides a tricycle voluntarily. You only do it because you’re being limited in one way or another.
Lilian van Zandbrink on Van Raam
Lilian is very postive about her visit as can be read in her Twitter post (down below).
Translation: @vanraam is such a wonderful company. Their professionals are really good and kind. #deeplyimpressed #tobecontinued
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