WHEN Hannah Dines was a youngster she would pedal to and from school each day on her beloved trike. Born with cerebral palsy, her trusty three-wheeled steed provided Dines with an incredible sense of freedom and independence.

With a laugh, she remembers how the back end of the frame was always bent and buckled due to her propensity to allow her sister and friends to hop on the back for a cheeky lift.

Back then, Dines would marvel at being able to make the solo journey around the corner. Little did she know it would take her all the way to Rio.

The 23-year-old from Glasgow will compete in the Paralympic T2 time trial on Wednesday followed by the road race on Friday.

Tricycle racing is for athletes with cerebral palsy, neurological conditions or impairment affecting balance which means they are not able to ride a two-wheeled bike.

Dines, who started out in athletics, made the transition to cycling in 2014. Last year marked her breakthrough season, seeing Dines win time trial silver and road race bronze at the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Maniago, Italy.

She went on compete at the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Notwill, Switzerland, and achieved two fourth-place finishes.

Dines is a force of nature. She chatters away with rapid machine gun delivery, sharing funny anecdotes, eye-watering tales about training and playing amateur psychologist. "Watch out, I'll turn it around and analyse you at the end," she teases.

Her goal in Rio is to win a bronze medal. "I love working hard," she says. "Any endurance cyclist is a secret masochist. I'm aiming for the podium. I've had a lot of fourths. I think I'm bronze-ready right now. I don't want it to be easy. I want people to say: 'Oh, she earned that'."

It is only four years since the self-dubbed former "couch potato" took up sport. Then 19, Dines had a summer volunteer job with cerebral palsy charity Bobath Scotland and was helping compile magazine cuttings when a photograph caught her eye.

Initially she thought it was an image of a young boy on a trike like hers. It turned out to be Scottish para-athlete Gavin Drysdale competing in RaceRunning, a sport for disabled people with impaired balance. Athletes use a three-wheeled frame supported by a saddle and body plate.

Dines got in touch with Drysdale's mother Margaret who invited her along to give it a try. By the time Dines returned to Dundee University that autumn, she was being coached by Janice Eaglesham from Glasgow-based Red Star Athletics Club.

Over the next year, Dines set six world records in the RR3 class. Then in October 2013, she received a flyer for a British Cycling para-sport talent ID day in Manchester.

"At first I didn't believe that trike racing was a sport," she says. "I even checked with the organisers because I was wasn't convinced that it wasn't just a fun disability come-and-try day I was attending. They told me: 'Yes, it's real. We have a Paralympic gold medallist on the team …'"

Dines quickly progressed through the ranks. She graduated from the British Cycling talent squad to the academy programme last year and now trains full-time.

Her happy-go-lucky nature is juxtaposed with a fierce competitive streak: Dines is a leader not a follower. "When I was five we played a game called choo-choo train and I was always at the front because people could hold on to the back of my walker," she says. "That has been my whole life."

Even so, Dines admits sport is a path she didn't envisage herself pursuing. "I never watched the Paralympics growing up," she says. "My mum turned it on once and I told her to switch it off.

"I hated watching something that I thought I would never be able to be involved in. Until recently, the athletes with the most severe difficulties weren't the ones you saw on TV."

Dines, who was born 10 weeks premature, has a form of cerebral palsy called spastic triplegia. "My brain is telling my muscles all the time to tighten up," she explains. "It's not as if I have spasms you can visibly see, but I look quite toned because the resting tone of my muscles is really high.

"That pulls on the joints in a bad way and makes them wonky. The bones also grow wonky. On top of that there is a gross motor control insult which affects how you move because there are dead brain cells. It is basically like the brain and muscles are slightly divorced and not communicating well."

She and fellow Scot and Paralympic silver medallist hand-cyclist Karen Darke have forged a firm friendship. The pair regularly room together for races and training camps.

At London 2012, Darke and team-mate Rachel Morris famously held hands to cross the line. While the duo wanted to share bronze, Morris finished marginally ahead to officially take third place.

Dines grins when asked what she would have done in that scenario. "I'm so cut-throat and Karen is so lovely," she says. "She missed out on the bronze and I wouldn't have done it."

As her Paralympic debut nears, Dines plans on shooting for the stars. "I want a picture with Karen holding her gold medal and me holding my bronze," she says. "That is the dream."