The family trike
Cool man!’ The three teenage boys hanging out on the beach with their surf boards were impressed. Our shiny red Christiania cargo trike always gets a reaction from people. Children enthusiastically draw their parents’ attention as we cycle past. Adults generally give us a big smile. Sometimes we get confused stares, or they call out, requesting a lift or asking to buy an ice-cream. I am now becoming oblivious to most reactions: I look ahead, a smile on my face, chatting to my little boy as he sits up in front of me.
Life changed a year ago when I became a mum. From being a confident world traveller, suddenly getting out of the house became difficult. The smallest of everyday tasks were real missions. Every day I learned, adapted and became more confident, but I missed many aspects of my old life. My Raleigh hybrid and Boardman road bike were scarcely used.
“Electric assistance helps me climb hills, pull out of junctions quickly, and ride further”
Vicky Myers, Cycling UK member
We have had the trike for seven months now. Being able to cycle with my son has really helped me regain my joie de vivre. We tried out several types of cargo bike with Kids and Family Cycles, a local company with a comprehensive selection of every type of child-carrying device you can imagine. We decided on a traditional Christiania cargo trike but with electric assistance, as it had plenty of storage space, and was visually appealing. After two test rides, the decision was made and the trike ordered.
My anticipation grew during the weeks it took to be delivered from Denmark. Having been on a cycle touring holiday in France when I was four months pregnant, I was itching to get back on the road. I also couldn’t wait to leave the car and buggy at home. I dreamed of cycling around the Purbecks, the New Forest, and possibly even taking the trike on the ferry to France.
Once the trike arrived, it was in use almost every day. I found it comfortable and easy to ride. Initially, I worried about the fragility of my nine-month-old cargo, so we took things slowly. My main concern was his head flopping around when he slept in the infant seat, so we simply adapted the trike by putting his old car seat in the bottom of the bike box so he could sleep lying down.
We soon journeyed further afield. We visited local parks, went shopping, cycled into Boscombe, then on to Bournemouth and eventually out into the New Forest. The box is huge and can carry virtually anything: up to four children, the buggy, lots of shopping, and also grown-ups weighing under 100kg. Everyone loves it so we call it ‘the happy bike’.
It was worth investing in electric assistance as it helps me climb hills, pull out of junctions quickly, and travel further. As my fitness has returned, I often turn the power off to get a good workout. The only downside of the trike is that I cannot put it in my car or take it on the train.
My son is 15 months old now and we are looking forward to the longer days and warmer weather. The happy bike will soon be exploring further – maybe even cycle touring in France.
This was first published in the April / May 2015 edition of Cycling UK's Cycle magazine.