Returning to a trike has given Simon Jenkins, who suffers from cerebral palsy, a new life after his retirement
For many of us, a tricycle is something that carries us through our early years before we switch to two wheels, but for Simon Jenkins, his trusty tricycle gave him a freedom he could never have on a bike.
Born with cerebral palsy, which weakened his leg muscles, Simon, 55, from Benfleet, Essex, uses a cane to get around and has always been limited in his sport.
“Riding a regular bike was never an option as I couldn’t keep my balance or get over the bar,” he explains. But the discovery that he could ride a specially adapted trike changed everything and allowed him to hit the open road with his buddies. “I used to go everywhere,” he recalls. “I was even able to do a paper round.”
However, when he was old enough to drive, Simon’s tricycle quickly became a fond childhood memory. And as an 18-year-old behind the wheel of his first car, he certainly never imagined that almost four decades later he would rediscover his love for trike driving.
But that’s exactly what happened last summer.
“After my mother died in 2020, I decided to take early retirement,” explains Simon, a former civil servant. “Sitting at a desk all day felt pretty uncomfortable — I was getting back pain because those muscles had to compensate my leg muscles when I walked.”
But since he didn’t have to be in the office every day, Simon had more free time than he would have liked. “I was struggling to adjust to a new routine and when my sister-in-law read about Just Ride Southend she suggested I try to cycle again,” he explains. “Near where I live, the club offers drop-in inclusive bike training for people of all ages and abilities.”
So last June he showed up for a trial lesson and hasn’t looked back. “I couldn’t pedal at first, but the Just Ride helpers didn’t give up,” he says. “It took about four or five sessions to figure out what we needed to do, which was to shorten the cranks and raise the seat. That didn’t seem intuitive because I have short legs, but it made all the difference.
“I also had to find a way to connect my feet to the pedals. I used to wear my school shoes when I was a kid using my tricycle so I ended up asking a shoemaker to heel an old pair of sneakers and it does the job perfectly.”
Now Simon completes a 5km ride on the athletics track at Southend Garon Park Leisure Center every Tuesday.
“It was a great way to meet new local people and it’s brilliant exercise that doesn’t tax my body too much,” he says.
On June 4th, Simon will do a few extra laps when Just Ride Southend hosts its own Big Jubilee Lunch after its regular Saturday morning session.
The Big Lunch, an annual event that brings people together to share food, have fun and get to know each other, is just one of the amazing projects being made possible by National Lottery players who give away over £30million for good every week raising causes.* This year the event will become the Big Jubilee Lunch and is part of the official celebrations for Platinum Jubilee weekend.
“It’s also a great opportunity to get everyone who benefits from Just Ride Southend, along with their friends and family, to toast the achievements of the project and thank all the volunteers,” says Simon.
To find out how amazing your numbers are, visit national-lottery.co.uk/jubilee-celebrations
*Based on figures from April 2020 to March 2021.
Rules and procedures apply. Players must be at least 18 years old.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/getting-on-tricycle-changed-life-27051558 Three and Simple: How a Tricycle Changed a Man's Life