After my injury in 2011 from a mountain bike accident, I was fearful I would never mountain bike again but I certainly wanted to get back on the trails. A few of my friends had the idea to strap me into a Terra Trek off-road manual chair and push/pull me through the Orange Trail at the Lynn Fells Reservation. I was super nervous about it, not being in control and being out of my comfort zone. But it was amazing, emotional, and liberating and it wasn't enough. I went home that day and scoured the internet for an adapted bike that would allow me to ride the technical trails that I knew and loved.
Enter my Boma7, a 4-wheeled off-road bike with the cockpit and controls of a standard power wheelchair.
In my research, I learned that there are many different options for adapted equipment to get wheelchair users back into the woods. No matter your function, there's something for you.
Here are things you should consider before purchasing adaptive bike equipment:
1. Your Body- Any equipment that you choose, whether it be for sports or for everyday use, you should consider the function that you have and any health risks that could affect the setup and enjoyment of your equipment. Do you need special seating? Do you have enough strength to use it? How easy is it to transfer from your primary chair?
2. Cost- As we all know, equipment for the disabled is not cheap. My bike was in the $20,000 range and I would not have been able to afford it without fundraising and grant money. There are various grants out there like the Kelly Brush Foundation and High Fives Foundation that offer grants for adaptive sports equipment. It's also a good idea to look into having a fundraiser, whether it be GoFundMeor a private fundraiser. I raised the majority of my money through GoFundMe.
3. Transportation- How will you transport your new equipment? Many of the available adaptive off-road wheelchairs and bicycles are quite sizable and require a decent amount of space in a vehicle to get it from one place to another. Luckily, I live close enough to two state parks that I'm able to ride from my house, and when I want to go further I need to use my father's truck to get my bike from A to B.
4. Is it right for you?- Almost all of the equipment that's available these days is not available in a retail brick and mortar store. There's only one store in New England, Bike-On in Rhode Island, that has a large selection of adapted bicycles and equipment. If you're looking for something that is more rare, it's nearly impossible to try it out. So it's extremely important to gather as much information from the manufacturer as possible. There are also three local events each year where vendors from all over come with bikes and chairs to let you experience them off road: Our Chapter's Hike & Bike (September), the Knobby Tire Ride and Roll (October), and the Abilities Expo at the Boston Convention Center (September). Some manufacturers may even connect you with a current owner that would be willing to let you try the equipment out. If you would like to try my Boma7 feel free to contact me, I'd love for you to experience it.
All of these things will ensure that you find the right piece of equipment that will suit your needs. No matter what your needs are, there is something out there for you. When I got my bike I felt whole again and I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try out different pieces of equipment. You won't regret it!