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Palatine Street Fest: Riding for therapy

Stroke victim navigates Cycle Fest on special bicycle

Linda Melder and her friend, Kathleen Reisler were among the first riders to sign up Saturday morning for CycleFest – one of the featured events at the Palatine Downtown Street Fest.

For most, the 10 or 20-mile two-wheeled jaunt around Palatine was a chance to grab some physical fitness on a quiet weekend morning. But for Melder it was another session of physical therapy, six years after a stroke impaire the left side of her body.

“I always loved to bike,” she said, “and after I had my stroke, to be able to bike again was amazing.”

Melder credited her ability to ride following the stroke to a custom designed, German made recumbent bicycle.

Estimated to cost about $4,500 fully outfitted, the grey colored bike is designed so the rider sits with their feet facing the front; on Melder’s bike the controls, brakes, gear shifters and handle bars are at the rider’s right side and the bike features a more comfortable seat than a conventional bike.

“It’s a German bike,” Melder said. “It’s an engineering wonder.”

 “Mine is outfitted so I can do everything (shifting gears, braking) with my right hand,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It’s a great bike.”

The nice thing about a recumbent is that all your power comes from your legs,” said Reisler. “Also its more comfortable.”

As an added touch, Melder has a portable water container with a short hose and a mouth piece hanging from the seat.

Melder was saddled up and ready to go when it came time for the 45 riders to head out in two groups through Palatine’s streets and bike paths.

The group included Ron Reeve, who planned to ride 20 miles with his wife, Becky.

“It's average. We rode last week out in Freeport and we rode about 45 miles. We try to get out as often as we can,” the Palatine resident said.

He said they enjoy the fun and fitness biking provides.

“I’ve got a bad back, so its harder to do things,” he said. “I used to a bunch of walking and jogging. Now its just easier to do as much biking as I can.”

Michael Smith, 14, a freshman at , said the ride was his second and gives him a chance to correct all the things he did wrong last year, which he said included; “not bringing a water bottle, not drinking before the ride, not getting a helmet til the morning before,” he said. “Last year I did all the wrong things. This year, I am trying to correct myself.”

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