I cannot ride a two-wheeled bike.
Because I am among the six percent of the world's population that has Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) or Dyspraxia. Some 19 million Americans are living with it. It’s more common than autism and just as common as dyslexia. DCD means my brain doesn't coordinate movements with my body, making common, everyday activities like using stairs, writing, buttoning a blouse and other self-care tasks almost impossible. I wasn't diagnosed until I was 16, which meant I missed out on years of occupational therapy.
But I can – and do – ride a trike. It gives me freedom and the opportunity to become more confident, coordinated, and independent. At first, I felt like people were judging me, with my invisible disability, for riding a trike. I got over that and love the power riding gives me. Now I ride smiling and dancing through the neighborhood on my way to get milk from the grocery store, some frozen yogurt, or to visit a friend. I get compliments on my wheels, not judgmental stares.
Having DCD makes learning patterns and navigating a trail, path, or obstacle course tricky. To prepare for an upcoming horse show for riders with disabilities, my mom lined up cones for me to practice weaving on my trike. I also practice "reverse" and "circle", two words that are I easily confuse. I listen for the directive my mom calls, and after lots of practice, my body listens to my brain. I then turn my trike toward the center of "the arena" and either make a full circle and continue pedaling in the same direction, or go the opposite way, imitating the same movements I'll do on the horse.
Being consistently active helps my brain better communicate with my body and eventually I'll become more coordinated. Bicycling helps improve my motor skills. Trikes are sporty, safe, and serve more purposes than just getting from point A to point B. My trike has helped boost my confidence, allow me to exercise, given me opportunities to socialize, earn ribbons in a horse show, and demonstrate that people like me need access to biking (and triking), too!
Sydney has been riding a trike since she was 13. Here at Schwinn, we were so inspired by her story and how “triking” has played such an important role in her life. We couldn’t help but jump in and do our part.
Sydney, enjoy your new Schwinn ride!