How a recumbent e-trike enabled Shelagh to cycle off-road again

Shelagh cycling on a trike with her son who is trying out her recumbent e-trike
Shelagh Goodman, a 48-year-old artist with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, has been inspired to get a recumbent e-trike after attending one of our Big Bike Revival events on the Scottish island of Skye.

Shelagh, who lives in Annishader, North of Portree was a keen cyclist until she was diagnosed with a rare condition that causes nerve damage. For 20 years she didn't ride a bike at all. 

Then she discovered she could ride an adult trike and started going on cycling adventures with her son. However, Shelagh came up against another challenge – she struggled to pedal off-road. 

Shelagh had identified a potential solution in the form of a recumbent e-trike – a three-wheeler with an electrical assist than she could use lying down. However, she faced a long journey to central Scotland if she wanted to try one out.

Our Big Bike Revival event in Kyleakin, Skye enabled her to take a recumbent trike for a spin for the first time – inspiring her to go out and get one of her own. 

“I did loads of cycling as a child growing up in Cornwall,” Shelagh says. “I gave up it my twenties because I was diagnosed and couldn’t use my two-wheeler. Probably for about 20 years I didn’t do any cycling.”  

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a group of conditions that damage the peripheral nerves. Those with CMT may have muscle weakness and numbness in their feet, ankles, legs and hands.

The condition only affects 23,000 people in the UK. “It is considerably rare,” Shelagh adds. “It’s a slowly deteriorating disease. I could stay as I am for the rest of my life or it could alter.” 

Shelagh came along to the Big Bike Revival event because she was keen to test out a recumbent trike – saving her a potential 230-mile journey. “Going to the event was a good opportunity to try recumbent bikes because you would normally need to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow,” she says. “They’re about £6,500, so it’s a big investment. You need to know you can ride it.” 

The Skye and Lochalsh Community Cycle event was organised in association with the Highland Third Sector Interface and involved an all-mobility cycle day with a ride-out, bike checks and taster sessions. E-bikes and adaptive bikes were provided on the day by Highland Cycle Ability Centre, South Skye Cycles and Cycling Without Age

The event was part of the Big Bike Revival – a Cycling UK project which inspires communities to get pedalling. Our locally-based development officers provide one-to-one support for grassroots organisations, helping them to deliver their own cycling activities. This approach has enabled us to work with rural and island communities right across Scotland. 

It’s nice to hear your son saying, ‘you’re awesome’ when you’re cycling.

Shelagh Goodman

Shelagh wanted a recumbent e-trike so she could go on off-road rides with her 10-year-old son, Eòghainn. “The [non-recumbent] trike has limitations because it would tip really easily, and you need to watch every bump if you go off road,” she explains. “It’s frustrating because my son loves woodland tracks and mountain roads.” 

Now that Shelagh has bought an Ice Adventure recumbent e-trike, she can take in the beautiful island scenery without fear of being tipped over while she rides. “We’ve got the old roads on Skye so we can do about seven miles from the house without going on main roads, but I couldn’t do some dips in the road before,” she says. “Now, I can. It’s nice to hear your son saying, ‘you’re awesome’ when you’re cycling.” 

The event also gave Shelagh the opportunity to ride in a group for the first time. “I’ve never ridden with other cyclists and wasn’t really sure what kind of reception I would get, but they showed a lot of enthusiasm,” she adds. “It was nice not to be judged.”