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Fun in the dirt…Exploring adaptive mountain biking

By Chris Brower, ASF Building and Equipment Supervisor

IMG_3913This past June, Geoff Krill of Eastern Adaptive Sports and I were part of a panel discussion concerning adaptive mountain biking for ski areas at the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) Downhill Bike Park Summit. We shared the panel with Janet Zeller of the USFS and Dave Byrd of NSAA. The summit was held in Windham, home of the only U.S. UCI World Cup Mountain Bike races in recent history. It was a great opportunity for our program to interact with resorts and professionals from all over North America, Europe and places like Australia and New Zealand.

Dave and Janet focused heavily on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and legal issues surrounding summer recreation at ski resorts. Geoff and I spent our time talking about the challenges and possibilities for growing mountain biking within the adaptive sports community and what resorts need to do in order to provide a welcoming and accessible facility.

Geoff, who is a paraplegic, has raced different downhill mountain bikes since the early 90’s and has settled on a custom four wheelKSW16_2129 gravity only mountain bike as his favorite way to rip down the trails. Geoff and I showed off his bikes, as well as a few from ASF, and let folks ask questions about them during the entire summit. We took some time to check out the terrain around the lodge before venturing up to the chairlift to introduce ourselves and the unique bikes to the lift attendants.

On our first run we went slowly to check out all of the features and talk about how to ride the diverse terrain on the different adaptive bikes that we might use to accommodate riders and their unique needs. After finally getting all of the logistics out of the way, it was time for us to let loose and have some fun! It was a blast to see Geoff and his four wheel bike attack the terrain features KSW16_2132and ride to the equipment’s potential. He can rail the berms and launch off the jumps just like the other skilled riders on more traditional looking rigs. In essence, riding is fun for anyone who wants to feel the exhilaration of flowing with the terrain, no matter what kind of vehicle they need to help accommodate their progression.

Whether on snow or dirt, riding with someone who is having fun and enjoying the outdoors is so rewarding. I hope our panelKSW16_2139 discussion helped to spread the word about including terrain and facilities for unique and adaptive riders. I am certain that having Geoff on the chairlift and conquering the bike park raised awareness and respect for those who want to share that experience in a less traditional piece of equipment. We at the ASF are fortunate to have the help and cooperation of Windham Mountain Resort in order to facilitate these kinds of activities all year long.

Windham Mountain Resort was a gracious host and NSAA put together a stellar group of panelists and keynote speakers. I learned a wealth of new information and networked with some of the industry’s leading professionals. In many sessions the discussion and dialogue spilled into the hallways, to the lunch table and ultimately out onto the hill. I look forward to being able to participate in more of these types of events as a means to enhance our programing at the Adaptive Sports Foundation and for my personal, professional development.

Photos by Ken Watson Photography.