Want to know how it feels to live with MS? Take a ride on this bike.
Those of us who have MS know that our disease has lots of symptoms. There are the legs that feel like they have 20 pound weights on them…balance that can have you lunging for the grab bar in the shower..feet that trip on the smallest crack. Some of us have some of these symptoms, some of us have others. Sometimes they’re there, sometimes they’re not. MS can be hard to explain to someone who’s healthy, and that’s the point of the MS bike.
This bike has been built to mimic the symptoms of MS. Its gears don’t work the way they should, the frame is unsteady and it takes extra effort to go anywhere. In other words, it’s a lot like me.
The MS bike was the idea of Carole Cooke. Cooke is a Paralympic cycling gold medalist who was diagnosed with MS back in the ’90s. Cooke then worked with a team of neurologists, physical therapists, mechanics and MS patients to design a bike that would imitate the shaky, dragging, unsteady feeling that everyone with MS knows. “You’ll have to be constantly fighting the bike to stay straight,” says Thom Pravda, the mechanic who built the MS bike. “Using particularly heavy parts, it’s going to be pretty fatiguing.”
And it is. Even champion cyclists have a tough go of it when they take it for a ride.