The joy of cycling after an illness with Tomcat Trikes
Deby Chick, who is 56, resides in the rural town of Dorchester. In 2007 Deby was diagnosed with breast cancer and so began an exhausting programme of treatment to beat the disease.
As a result of her cancer spreading she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011 that affected her mobility and as an avid cyclist and hiker Deby found it very hard to accept that she may not be able to do either activity thereafter.
As a result of radio therapy treatment for the tumour, Deby was left with a weakness on one side of her body and vision loss in one eye.
However, despite all the setbacks, Paul Chick MBE, Deby’s determined husband set out to find a suitable three wheel, power assisted trike that would allow Deby to continue to enjoy the outdoors and keep fit, healthy and active.
“I’ll never ride a bike or drive again”
Because of the poor vision that followed on from her eye tumour of three years ago, Deby became very dependent on friends and family to get out and about. Public transport was very limited and not easy to access, furthermore, Deby simply did not have the confidence to go out by herself.
“It really does knock your confidence when you’re unstable on your feet and when you go from being independent to dependent on people to do simple everyday tasks like shopping or visit my friends, Mum & Dad etc, it’s really hard. I thought a trike like my daughter Katie’s would be suitable, but it just wasn’t right for me. It was very frustrating”
The weakness in the right side of Deby’s body meant that she had a limited amount of strength to cycle, so a power assisted trike seemed like a good option to explore and Paul certainly did just that.
“I looked at various trike manufacturers around the UK that could build a power assisted trike for Deby. I wanted to ensure we got value for money and that the trike would be fit for purpose. I used a user requirement matrix to do my research and the Tomcat E-Bullet came out at 98% against my criteria whereas all the other competitors scored in the region of 42%. I believe that no other company has taken such a holistic approach to people who have varying needs. The build quality of the trike is head and shoulders above the rest, and the fact that you can upgrade the trike, if or when your mobility needs change, is a great feature and very reassuring.”
Paul’s technical skills and experience of project management for Dorset police was central to his ability to analyse the different options on offer from the potential suppliers, and he was, himself, the designer of a very successful safety bed for children like Katie.
It was produced for many years in the woodwork shop at the Verne Prison in Portland until Deby’s illness made too great a demand on Paul’s time.
Functionality and Design
Since the Tomcat E-Bullet arrived in Deby’s life she has been able to go on shopping trips independently, visit her mother & father who live 2 miles away on the other side of Dorchester and she has been able to visit the hospice every week, which is a similar distance, without having to rely on family members to take her about.
Deby commented, “The Tomcat E-Bullet has given me the freedom and independence I have been craving since 2011! The comments I receive about the trike have been so positive and it encourages people to talk to me and have a conversation. I can easily pull away on the E-Bullet without having to find too much energy in the first instance, and when I’m riding, it’s is so easy to manoeuvre. Best of all, Paul can transport it at the back of the car with ease. I just love it.”
Future Chick “I am hoping to join a cycling event in Southampton this year – perhaps increase the mileage on the E-Bullet. One thing is for sure that by cycling, my fitness, health and spirits will remain positive.”
Bob Griffin, founder and friend of the Chicks comments: “I first met Paul and Deby Chick at a 1999 regional Angelman’s conference they’d organised in a youth club in Dorchester. Both Katie (their daughter) and our son Tom had Angelman (no ‘s’ on Angelman) syndrome and from that connection came a close friendship that has lasted all those years. When I started producing the Tomcat trike, I was invited to speak at the Angelman conference and I believe it was from that event that I built Katy the first of her two trikes followed by the Bullet we have recently built for Deby.
If you think our friendship made for a quick and easy sale you couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a trained engineer himself, Paul is critical of everything technical and ruthless in his quest for the best deal. He reminds me very much of Griff Rhys Jones, sporting a geeky beard, consulting his clipboard and checking off his requirements against the Vauxhall Zafira, if you remember that ad? Truly the customer from hell! I’m afraid Tomcat was definitely up against the field where Pauls wallet was concerned. Never mind, he made the right choice in the end! (May I add that the picture of Bob drinking from the mug at my house sums up my thoughts regarding his comments!)
Though Deby’s difficulties of poor strength, impaired sight and uncertain balance were quite restrictive and debilitating for her, in fact, these were issues that were quite straight forward for us to resolve.
Yes, it is a very advanced machine in many of its features, such as lightness, access and transportability; but from a physiological point of view, we were dealing with a normally functional adult in the mobility of her limbs – even if her strength and coordination were not so good – so it was relatively easy to manufacture a trike to her requirements.
However from a personal point of view, the rewarding part of this project was to deliver Deby’s trike in person and to see a very dear friend, who has been through so much without a word of complaint, cycling again for the first time in many years – all wrapped up in her winter woollies and smiling from ear to ear. Her thank you was from the heart, as always with our customers, and that means a lot to us all at Tomcat. “
E-Bullet fun facts:
• 6 level “Power Assist” through a 5 speed differential drive. Assistance cuts out at 28kph.
• Disc and Drum Braking all round.
• “Slide and swivel”, cushioned seat, with tilt feature.
• Fully Transportable construction, featuring “Seat Quick Release” from a 2 piece frame with folding handlebars.
• Telescopic adjusting pedals.
• Shopping Basket and removable carrier.
Checkout the Tomcat Bullet
Tomcat Silver Bullet
The Silver Bullet is an outstandingly versatile 5-speed machine that is ideal for shopping and everyday use, but lightweight, fast, and comfortable enough for sports and leisure too.
Its low sitting posture, differential drive, and rear axle disc braking, make it highly stable when cornering fast or braking hard.
Tomcats superb, “Removable Basket and Carrier” comes as optional extra, and the Silver Bullet can be fully accessorised with foot, leg, trunk and head supports.
Electric Power Assist, Carer Control, Carer Braking and Trailer conversion are optionally available.
It’s easily transportable when the “Two Piece” transportable frame is chosen and it is light enough to be stored on a garage wall – Wow!
5 speed hub drive
Drum front wheel and rear axle braking (single Disc)
Incremental (3 pos) adjustment of cranks + incremental adjustment of seat
Cranks using telescopic BB and clamp only with set length chains, Seat relocates on cross tubes
Adjustable between 58” and 74” user height
Park Brake integral to Front Wheel brake conduit
Fixed steering column with adjustable offset stem and downhill handlebars