My New Wheels

By Devin Riley

Having lost the ability to hike and access remote places at a young age, it is hard to describe how much having an adaptive mountain bike means to me. Is it a bike or my “hiking wheels”? For most people with mobility issues, wheels are a way of life. They are not burden. They are empowering tools to move about our lives and participate in society. But they have limitations and most cannot take us far from the beaten (paved) path. My new wheels are different.

It’s been less than a year since my wife and I picked up these new wheels. A Hammerhead handcycle from Reactive Adaptations in Crested Butte, Colorado. In that short time, this bike has changed my life for the better. It has opened up my world, increasing the possibilities of what I can do. It has given me the opportunities and ability to access amazing places and adventures, chances for solitude, and a way to expand my community.
In the past ten months, I have explored places I never thought I would be able to get to on my own, under my own power, both locally and around the west.

I’ve explored local mountain bike trails in Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra with my wife and on my own. I’ve taken trips to participate in events in Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Participating in these events and being part of the great community of adaptive mountain bikers has enriched my life by creating and strengthening friendships through these shared experiences.

This one piece of equipment brings me into a world I have not known since I was a kid. It’s brought back the joy of riding bikes with friends.

Devin Riley

I think it is fitting that the first two days of riding my new bike was in Telluride, home of the GoHawkeye Foundation, who helped me with a grant for the bike. I have been to Telluride a number of times over the years. To get to ride up the Black Bear pass switchbacks just outside of town was amazing and something I will never forget.

In addition, the ability to get out on my own and experience solitude in nature away from the beaten path, away from sidewalks, roads and cars, has improved not only my physical health, but it has also been vital for my mental health. This has been especially important during the pandemic. I can still get out and explore locally. Getting exercise and opening up my horizons has helped me stay sane during shelter-in-place.

Having an adaptive mountain bike makes me look at the world around me differently. Instead of limitations, I see opportunities. I look at the mountains and hills searching for trails I can take. Yogi Berra once said, “when you get to a fork in the road, take it.” Now I see a fork in the road – a trail – and no longer wonder what might be around the corner… I take it, and find out.

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