In 2018 I set off on a new journey with unknown expectations. I planted myself in the middle of the mountain bike (MTB) community. A handful of these community members carefully feed me with enough MTB knowledge that I flourished into a bright and beautiful rider. It took a lot of dedicated work to get where I am today and I still have a lot to learn. I’m excited to continue ripping trails and exploring new terrain.
Cycling is a passion of mine. It’s a mixture of going fast and feeling pain that I enjoy equally. I started out road biking back in 2011. My dad and brother would often join me on cool spring nights. We would ride 10-20 miles a few days a week together. I loved how much they would push me and I have to credit them for this.
My brother would also MTB with friends and at the time I never thought it would be a possibility for me. I continued on the road with my dad for a few years while we still lived close to each other. I fell in love with the community and looking back now I think I just loved being part of a community of like minded, adventurous, healthy people.
Years later I moved into a buddy’s spare room in San Jose California and realized mountain biking was a possibility. This is when I surrounded myself in a similar but new community. One I fell in love with fast. Road biking and mountain biking are so similar in thought but as a new member to the community you learn fast just how different they are. Road bikers ride to drink a cappuccino while mountain bikers ride to drink beer. I’m not going to knock either sport because they all revolve, pun intended, around wheels and pain.
I started researching adaptive mountain bikes and found my match. The only problem was, it cost more than my car. I was 29 years young, didn’t own more than what fit in two duffle bags and struggling to find consistent work. I was a few years divorced and living life on the road. No joke, I basically lived out of my car for a while. I contemplated if a mountain bike was what I really needed during this time of my life. Sometimes the best things to get yourself out of a rut is self love. I started looking into grants and found the amazing non-profit Kelly Brush Foundation who gave out some financial support for people with disabilities who wanted to become more active. The Kelly Brush Foundation soon became family to me.
I got some negativity for receiving the grant and for fundraising for my bike. I can see some folks points but they were judging me from my social media activity. This is a topic for another post but what you see on social media is what the poster wants you to see. Everyone posts the good because who wants to see the bad? I will say that I appreciate all the love I was given during this time of my life. It was so helpful to my mental state especially while I was trying to find myself after my divorce. Not many of you know about this time in my life because I kept it private. There were a dew dark moments that were frightening so all the love from strangers, friends and family shined bright.
When I finally got my MTB I was so stoked. The excitement wasn't only for me. I was ready to use this amazing piece of equipment to show others your circumstances no matter what they are should never hold you back from whats possible. I was eager to learn, help and advance in the sport.
Years ago I ran adaptive sports and recreation programs for a non-profit in Modesto called Society for disABILITIES. During that time I befriended Grant Parker of Exchequer Mountain Bike Park at McClure reservoir in Northern Ca. Grant came to me with an idea to make the park inclusive to all. He had plans to widen trails for adaptive mountain bikes with a dream of hosting camps for the local children’s hospital. Over five years later, I now owned an adaptive mountain bike and was able to help the park figure out what trail conditions need to be like for safe riding. One of my first rides was at Exchequer with Grant and my former roommate who inspired me to get my wheels dirty. Together we rode trail after trail. Most of the trails were single track which were way to narrow for my bike. Being off camber sent the bike flipping multiple times. Every crash was a learning experience that brought the park closer to the inclusivity we desire.
I won't go on about how I’m only using the bike for others because I’m not. I selfishly want to go fast, compete against others, and experience nature that I cant on my wheelchair. I signed up for my first race and killed it. The Sea Otter Classic is a multi day bike festival. There is an expo and many categories to race in. This year I raced downhill and loved it. I had a gnarly crash during my first practice run but ended up getting second out of the adaptive riders. Unfortunately, Mountain biking doesn’t have an adaptive class at these events like road biking does so we race with our age category. Us adaptive riders compare times later.
Check out my race run for yourself. If you’ve been thinking about trying something new maybe mountain biking is for you.
I’m already excited for Sea Otter Classic 2020 and all the progress i’m going to gain before then. I’d love to hear some of your favorite trails or places to ride in the comments below. Let me know if you have any questions regarding adaptive mountain biking!