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Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

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Old 05-16-12, 04:50 PM   #1
esther-L
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Can a leg amputee learn to do the efficient start on a bike?

I took a leap of faith and signed up for League Cycling Instructor class. I knew that I would have some trouble with the Emergency Stop drill, and have been practicing that.

The instructor sent the list of bike handling drills that he will grade us on, and he included the mounting/dismounting start/stop drill. I was not expecting this. This is where the cyclist starts with one foot on pedal at around 10-11 o'clock, and pushes down on that pedal while getting up onto the saddle and pedaling. You get thru an intersection faster this way. Here is a link describing the technique here, with a short video http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html .

I have a problem. I cannot do this. I don't know whether it is possible for an amputee to build the right muscle strength to do this. I actually tried learning to do this with the non-prosthetic foot on pedal - got a nice amount of road rash on first try.

Has anyone here mastered this starting technique, and how did you do this? Do you put the prosthetic foot on pedal to stand onto the saddle, or the flesh foot?

I use clipless pedals, and my habit for nearly 10 years has been to clip in prosthetic foot and do the "shuffle mount". I have not been successful at strengthening the hip flexors enough to pedal standing up.

Thanks for any input!
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Old 05-17-12, 07:05 PM   #2
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This is how I mount my bike every time, although I do have one foot, just not the other. I pretty much have to leave my left (prosthetic) foot clipped in for short stops, and I would imagine that if the test required me to clip in @ 11 and take off quickly I would have problem with it as well. Typically I will clip in at around 4: and then pull the pedal back up to 11 and take off while lifting/clipping in with the foot (right) I can feel.

The way that I learned to stand and pedal..and mind you I still cannot climb regularly while standing...was to put the pros. foot in back and flesh in front and teach myself to come over the top. After you get that, the hard part is learning how to come through the bottom of the stroke, or at least for me. In my case it sort of involves using the handlebars as a reference and stabilizing tool with my arms and just a whole lot of faith that the pros. will not unclip somehow. It is a bit scary, you have to do it enough to de-sensitise yourself to the worry about it.
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Old 05-18-12, 09:59 AM   #3
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Hmm. I would talk to the instructor.

I suspect that you aren't the first and it's possible they either have a technique or a reasonable accommodation.
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Old 05-18-12, 10:17 AM   #4
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Amputation below the knee? If so then yes it can be done, even if it is both legs. I met a double amputee (again bleow the knee) who could do just about everythnig a good recreational cyclist could at the ride before the LA Marathon the very first time there was one.

BUT I'm also sure he put a LOT of work into getting to that level.
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Old 05-20-12, 08:15 PM   #5
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The LCI instructor did not have a problem with my starting method. He was cool, since I could explain what the correct method is. I did better on the instant turn and the quick stop for the exam than I did practicing it during the past 3 weeks. I am a new LCI! Nobody in our class is fully qualified yet - we have to co-teach with an experienced LCI 2 times before we are fully qualified solo instructors.

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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Hmm. I would talk to the instructor.

I suspect that you aren't the first and it's possible they either have a technique or a reasonable accommodation.
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Old 05-20-12, 08:33 PM   #6
esther-L
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My prosthetic foot has only unclipped unexpectedly about 12 times during the ~8 years that I've been using clipless pedals. The cause has usually been a need to replace cleat on shoe.

I don't have the muscle strength to move my prosthetic foot thru the top of the pedal stroke. I know the hip flexor is part of the muscle that needs strengthening, but I don't know whether that is the only muscle that's too weak.
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Old 05-21-12, 08:20 AM   #7
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Hi esther-L,

I have been a rbk for a year and a half and was also not due to diabetes. Having ridden very little before surgery I found that cycling was great rehab for me. Just as much as everyone is different leg amputees on bikes are waaaaay different even with other amputees. Having said this I will share what I have found, and continue to find, what works best for me.
With clip less pedals I start with my prosthetic leg-pedal at the bottom of stroke. 6 o’clock. I then push off with my left leg to get started. When stopping at a sign or light i unclip my leg, stop, leave my prosthetic leg clipped but move it to the 3 o’clock position so I can get the proper push off.
I have also been very frustrated at not being able to stand up and pedal up hills. I recently figured it out by putting my bike in my trainer and experimenting there as I am not wild about "kissing" the pavement while learning something new. Having worked with this several months I realized that my left leg has to actually start pulling my right leg over. I have a no-power dead spot when my prosthetic leg is about 9 to 10 o’clock. I also had to shift my weight forward over the handlebars. All this was very awkward to say the least but locked into the cradle of my trainer i had no fear of falling. I asked countless medical professionals that know the human body intricately and no one could explain why I could not stand to pedal, some even watched me on my trainer and they all had no answer. The benifit of standing is that it gives me some relief to the pivot point of my hips where i experience some discomfort during a 40+ mile ride.
My hope and prayer for you is that would continue to progress and continue to be an encouragement to others.

Sounds like punkat does the same thing

God Bless

Brent

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Old 05-21-12, 10:08 PM   #8
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Yes, honestly I have found it to be much more efficient to remain seated while climbing. When I stand it requires much more energy and concentration to pull my leg over and maintain a steady cadence. Mostly, I just stand when I need to stretch and get blood flowing. My ability to unclip the prosthetic while riding is very limited, and a quick turning test to that side would present a real challenge to me.
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Old 05-23-12, 08:00 PM   #9
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If by "quick turning test" you mean the instant turn maneuver, that should be no problem. That does not require stopping, so there is no need to unclip.

I went to a physical therapist about pain close to the knee on the non-prosthetic side. I learned that my glute muscles are wimpy in both legs, especially on prosthetic side. Perhaps the exercises and strengthening to get rid of knee pain will improve my biking!

I'll ask tomorrow whether I'm doing the exercises correctly - the stick figure page showing me what to do leaves me room to make mistakes.

40+ years after left B/K amputation leaves a lot of opportunity for muscles to atrophy!
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Old 01-10-13, 06:11 PM   #10
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Hi, I just discovered this forum. Great to be here.

If I were taking that class, I'd just have to fail that part of the test and deal with it. I pretty much have only one way of starting, and that's to put my left pedal all the way down, and put my prosthetic foot on it, and then push off with my right foot until I gain enough speed to coast while assuming a pedaling position and getting started pedaling.

I have virtually no leg strength on the left side, and poor strength on the right. if I lived in anything other than very flat terrain, I wouldn't pedal at all (well, maybe one of those hand-pedal gizmos). I was born with PFFD, which caused my left stump (that's what my generation was brought up calling it) to have almost no muscle... just a thin bone with a little flesh on it. I get around okay, but cannot do anything involving left leg strength.


Dismounting for me means always coming down on my right foot. If for some reason I have to lean to the left when the bike stops (I avoid it, but it happens), I will almost certainly fall to the ground. It comes with the territory.

I just went to see a prothetist yesterday about building me some new standing rigging. He told me there's an electronic knee that keeps people from falling, but it has to be disabled (no pun intended) in order to ride a bike.

But you've inspired me to at least try starting different ways. If the weather ever improves, that is.
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Old 03-31-13, 03:44 PM   #11
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Jefuchs, I tried to pm you but can't since I'm a newbie...
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