Cerebral palsy sufferer gets
around on a recumbent bike
By: Miriam Moeller
"ISHPEMING, Mich. (AP) — Learning to ride and race a recumbent bike has
made a world of difference in Ishpeming resident Todd Kauppinen's life.
Kauppinen has cerebral palsy. Walking has always been difficult for him because
the lifelong condition caused his feet and legs to deform. And he was never able
to ride a two-wheeled bicycle because his condition impairs his balance. As a
child he endured many bloody knees and skinned elbows trying out bikes.
"It was frustrating not being able to do things that other kids took for
granted," he said.
When he became an adult and started a family, he wondered if he would ever be
able to take his 4-year-old son Ty and wife Heidi for a family bike ride.
So, two years ago, Kauppinen bought a recumbent bike — a bike with three wheels
and a very comfortable, tall seat that supports his back. "I got on the bike and
you could tell that it would work better than anything that we tried before," he
At first he could barely get around the block because it was difficult to turn
corners, and it was strenuous to go uphill because the recumbent bike — also
known as a trike — doesn't easily generate the momentum that regular bikes can
produce. In addition, the recumbent bike weighs 50 pounds — significantly more
than the 20 to 30 pounds of an ordinary road bike.
But Kauppinen, 39, didn't give up.
"With a lot of perseverance and hard work he accomplished his goal," Heidi said.
And part of that goal was to participate in Marquette's Superior Bike Fest road
race in June. In 2005, he raced the 25-mile course in 3 hours and 22 minutes.
This year, he participated in the 40-mile road race and finished in a little
more than 4 hours. "I have a great fan base," he said. "That helps a lot."