learning to ride with multiple sclerosis
My girlfriend has MS. She's got some balance issues (stairs are apparently a little more difficult, and she needs to see where she's going) but otherwise, if she doesn't tell you she's got it you probably wouldn't notice. I'd love to go riding with her, and I think the feeling's rubbing off on her as well but at the same time I'm scared about what could happen with an upright bike given her conditions. I've suggested giving trikes a shot but she seems to insist that she ride a diamond frame bike.
Any suggestions on how to get her up and running? What about alternatives like riding tandem instead?
If she doesn't want a trike, and has decent enough balance, why not try for an affordable comfort frame bike(for instance, a Trek Shift/Navigator). If she finds that she needs something else, you have a bike that would have a good re-sale value. I don't have MS, but I have a visual issue that 1)REQUIRES a upright riding style so I can see around me, and 2) messes with my balance. I ride a Dahon Boardwalk(gotta get it up and down apartment stairs on a regular basis), but at my LBS we usually recommend the Shift/Navigator for casual, around town riding. Worst case scenario, I know you can get training wheels for adult sized bikes as well.
Try visiting a bike shop that sells tandems, and you test ride a tandem (they will have you ride on back, then on front). Being in the front seat on a tandem takes more arm strength than most cyclists realize. If she unbalances, you will need to recover the balance on the bike.
My husband and I have 2 tandems. Whatever direction your relationship is going, a tandem will move the relationship there faster.
I think your girlfriend could ask the MS society office in your state for some advice. The office in my area (North Carolina) has a League Cycling Instructor volunteer. There may be someone in the office who could advise about how to evaluate your balance, and what sort of bike they recommend.
There's a thread about cycling with MS with some good info in it:
I don't personally have MS, but I am dealing with another condition that affects the cervical spine similarly. In addition to the good info in that thread, I'll add one of my own experiences that may apply: If your girlfriend experiences Lhermitte's Sign -- a shooting electrical sensation from the neck common among those with MS -- a road bike may not be the most comfortable thing to ride. Leaning forward and holding your head up causes the rider to keep their neck bent, which can bring on that shooting sensation. Something that puts the rider in a more upright posture would likely be more comfortable.
Thanks for the suggestions! If an upright bike's the best bet, I may just go ahead and start off by fixing up her old bike -- typical rusted & poorly stored cheap mtn bike (last I checked, it was mostly rust and ill-adjusted brakes) but should do the job. I like the suggestion on the other thread for an e-bike; one of the local shops has a few in stock, and it'll be a great excuse for me to try them out as well.
You might also think about getting her a recumbent bike.
Originally Posted by muu
I was suggesting we go and try some, but she does not like the idea of being that close to the pavement. A cruiser-style trike w/ 3 speeds may be the best I could get if a mtn bike doesn't pan out.
muu i don't know if this is common to most people with MS, but the person I know uses a thickly padded seat because of nerve problems/the electrical shooting sensation. It helps a lot. When I say 'thickly padded' I mean it seems thick to me, as I'm used to a racing-wannabe saddle. Anyway that was the best upgrade he made to his bike for helping.
Also a lot of people with MS are highly sensitive to sunlight, polarized sunglasses have been necessary for him. The most important thing might be to understand the effects of heat on MS, in most people it greatly exacerbates symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms (cognitive ones like confusion) may not seem obvious at first.