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BACK ROADS BILL: Three wheels to freedom

This week Bill introduces us to triking and how it is a springtime rebirth solution to accessibility

It is time to get your bicycle out of the shed. This year my bike looks a little different.

It is a cycling machine with a difference.


You can remember riding a tricycle, maybe it had multicoloured plastic streamers on the hand grips, and then we graduated to the bicycle, it is one of those rites of passage. Oh yes with the classic, retro metal ring bell, with a lever, on the handlebars.

When two wheels are not an option the next transition is to three for stability.

When you go looking for inspiration you will find Chris Miller.

He resides in Revelstoke and is an active triker and advocate for the community. On nearby Mount Macpherson, they built a new trail called Miller Time (his namesake) which was built to be completely inclusive and allow all riders to enjoy the landscape.

A stroke in January 2014 forced him to find new ways to enjoy his passion. He now rides a variety of trikes to get around. His ability to move forward following a life-changing incident is inspiring.

“I suffered a brain stem stroke. Along with many physical disabilities, I have lost my sense of balance. I cannot walk, so naturally, I roll. Pedalling my trike has given me a huge part of my life back.”

Chris was an electrician and is now an educational assistant. He is a very social person which was evident in our conversation. Chris has a nine-year-old daughter, Regan, who’s taken after his love of mountain biking.

“I wouldn’t be here if I thought, ‘Poor me, I can’t do this,’” he said. “There’s so much I can do. The more you do, the more opportunities you’re given to do other things.”

Chris says, ”I grew up biking, it has been a lifelong passion. I have mountain biked and raced all around most of the interior of British Columbia. He rides all year round and is a trail builder.

He has a solid philosophy. “Pedalling to me is meditative, the clockwise, orbital motion of pedalling propels you forward, the direction of growth. I cannot thank ICE Trikes enough for facilitating that growth. They make extremely high-quality, very dependable trikes.

“For me, these are my ‘freedom machines,’ that have enabled me to access countless locations which would otherwise be unreachable. When you have a life-changing injury, you must think of what you still have, not about what you will miss. In order to keep moving forward, we must adapt.”

People often ask Chris what it is like to ride a trike. “Put some pedals on your most comfortable lawn chair and pedal it wherever you like.”

South Pole

Some people choose trikes for unique reasons.

On Dec. 27, 2013, Maria Leijerstam became the first person to cycle from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. Her journey commenced from near McMurdo Station on the Ross Ice Shelf and accessed the Polar Plateau via the Leverett Glacier. Maria also established the human-powered speed record of 10 days, 14 hours, and 56 minutes.

She was contacted. Maria explained that she fought against every obstacle leading up to completing this monumental event.

She had a lot of questions before this trek. “How was I going to fund this mission” Would this ordinary woman be fit and strong enough to fulfill her dream, especially with strong male competition from around the world?”

“And, what was the best cycle for the job?”

“Stability, weight-carrying capability and aerodynamics were all super important to the success of the expedition, hence a trike was the perfect cycle for the job!

“My book and documentary can be found here and White Ice Cycle.


There are bike shops in our communities but they don’t tend to sell trikes, and there are not many trike-specific stores.

After searching Hamilton Trikes was located. Cora Muis is the proprietor and an advocate.

How did she get interested in trikes? “After my kids were done with elementary and secondary schools, I was casting around for other things to do besides the volunteering I had done at their schools and other places.

“At the same time, I completed a guided ride along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River to the QC border(Canadian side) and had come home with numb hands and other wounds. The numb hands stayed around for a long time and I can't ride a diamond frame for longer than 5-10km before they are giving me grief. So I got a semi-recumbent bike which took all the weight off my hands. Solved that problem. I also thought that I could start doing bike servicing, so I went to Winterbourne Bike Institute for their eleven-day program. Realizing that recumbents were poorly represented anywhere in Ontario shops, I decided to carry some of those in my shop.

She said, “It quickly became apparent that recumbent trikes were the next thing in the recumbent bike industry. Now two-wheeled recumbents are less than 5 per cent of my sales, and trikes dominate. Another niche I have is wheelchair bikes and other bikes that can be used to take other abled folks out for a ride.

Who are her customers?

“My first trike sale was a revelation to me. Stan called me - he was borderline diabetic, overweight and had major foot issues so he could not walk more than ten feet or so, among other things... He needed to find a way to exercise and regain some health ASAP.

“So I fitted him with a heavy-duty model a Trident Trike's Titan, to be specific. It checked all the boxes for what he needed. He could take it to his summer residence in a trailer park. He could get outside and cruise his neighbourhood independently, visit with neighbours, and be a part of the community, instead of stuck at home in his chair. A game changer for him on so many levels.

“A game changer for myself, as well, when I realized how impactful that can be for someone. Independence, community, exercise and health. All big deals, when you lose them.”

She is always learning through customers about new things that can affect your balance and take you off your traditional two-wheeler. “The big ones like ABI, MS, Stroke, PTSD, other injuries that affect balance, neuro diseases, osteoarthritis, knee surgery recuperation, shoulder, neck, back and prostrate injuries.”

E-bikes are becoming popular. “Trikes are a game changer, well the next game changer is e-assist. E-assist can aid a person in recovering from injuries, or help them stay riding after disability, age, or that one nasty hill would otherwise stop them from getting outside and on their bike/trike. They can ride further and still be confident that they will make it back home.” Sage advice from Cora.

For more information on buying trikes, search for retailers in your area. Try a used one for good measure.

Final thoughts

One thing you quickly learn is that trikes have a limited turning radius because of the configuration of the front two wheels. You become Fred Flintstone and use his shuffling feet technique from the “Flintmobile” in order to complete tight turns (Yabba Dabba Doo).

These “bikes” are easy to ride, your legs turn the cranks like all the previous iterations you have been on. It is body-friendly. Fat tire models allow you to go off-road.

Trikes are expensive enough and you won’t find them at retail chain stores.

It is the price of liberation on the back roads. (And yes, I have a classic retro bell – no streamers yet!)

Bill Steer

About the Author: Bill Steer

Back Roads Bill Steer is an avid outdoorsman and is founder of the Canadian Ecology Centre
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