After a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis, This Cyclist Found Freedom on a Recumbent Trike

·3 min read
Photo credit: Courtesy Lucia Saitta
Photo credit: Courtesy Lucia Saitta


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Name: Lucia Saitta
Age: 60
Hometown: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Occupation: Paralegal
Time Cycling: About 10 years
Reason for Cycling: I wanted to stay a step ahead of my multiple sclerosis—I was not ready to give up or give in!

It has been almost 15 years since my multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. Honestly, that was a dark day for me. For about a year, I became withdrawn and depressed. My neurologist at that time told me that I would be in a wheelchair and unable to walk within 10 years. I knew I had to change the trajectory of my life. So I decided to turn my “pity party” into a goal to beat MS!

I started to volunteer at various cycling events that raised funds to find a cure for my condition. Through that, I was approached by a friend, Roland Hoffman, who asked if I would like to ride tandem with him. At that time, I felt too weak to ride a bike, so I was hesitant to try—but eventually, I did.

At the beginning, Roland would take me on his tandem around my block so I would feel comfortable on a bike. Eventually, we rode several Bike MS: Bay to Bay bike tours for multiple sclerosis research. I became comfortable and motivated to ride more. We continued to ride together until I purchased a recumbent trike of my own. This allowed me the freedom to ride solo.

Flash forward to last month, when I attempted my first Ironman—the Ironman 70.3 Coeur d’Alene triathlon in Idaho—on a recumbent trike with the help of my coach, Diego Olivieri, and the Coeur d’Alene (CDA) Triathlon Team. The CDA Tri Team accepted me onto their team, yet never treated me any differently than any other cyclist. Although I didn’t finish the race, I was very proud of myself and felt like a true competitor.

While training for the triathlon, I was cycling four times per week, ranging from one to four hours per day. I am continuing to improve. I am grateful to Roland Hoffman, Diego Olivieri, and the CDA Tri Team for their support, guidance, and friendship.

Cycling has given me my freedom back. I proudly cycle through town and in races on my recumbent trike and with my tandem partner. It has allowed me to share my experiences with other MS warriors and spread the word that MS is not a death sentence, but a disability that can be conquered.

Cycling is my tool to fight MS, to live a healthier lifestyle, and to show my community that a disability does not limit who you are! The first time I was called an “athlete” gave me goosebumps. I want other cyclists to know that persons with disabilities (obvious or otherwise) just want to be treated like everyone else, and given the opportunity to push their own bodies to the limits. Cycling has given me that opportunity. I am all smiles as I continue to fight MS.

These tips have made my cycling journey a success:

1. Never give up

I continue to fight to beat MS, and that means never giving up.

2. Find community

Join a cycling club or tri team for inspiration and motivation—or become inspiration to others on your team or club.

3. Never stop moving

Keep moving, because once you stop moving, you stop living!

Lucia’s Must-Have Gear

Bend It Cycling Recumbent Jersey: Because I ride a recumbent, I need my cycling jersey pockets in the front.

Hammer Nutrition: Hammer gels work to fuel me for rides, and they have great customer service.

Skippy P.B. Bites: Cyclists are always hungry and these help fill me up.

We want to hear how cycling changed you! Send your story and submit your photos to us via this web form. We’ll pick one each week to highlight on the site.

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