Hand Over Foot

Armed with more gears than a Mack truck, a new generation of disabled athletes cranks onto snow and singletrack

Oct 1, 2000
Outside
Outside Magazine

FRUSTRATED WITH THE OFF-THE-SHELF mobility options available to them, a new generation of disabled athletes (they call each other "supercrips") are taking up torches, welding together chrome-moly tubing—and then bolting the newfangled frames to planetary transmissions, knobby tires, and tractor treads. Their goal: to pick up where the paved loop trail ends.

Take the One-Off all-terrain handcycle—a low-slung mountain bike built by Mike Augspurger, who's crafted custom bikes for the last decade. "It is a bike you wear," says Bob Vogel, 40, a paraplegic hang-glider pilot who has owned a One-Off for nearly two years. "It's opened up a whole new backcountry world." A mere 33 inches wide—and tricked out with Schlumpf Mountain Drive transmissions, plus a titanium handlebar and sternum support—the 35- to 50-pound, $4,500 trike is narrow enough to navigate many singletrack mountain bike trails.

This winter, altitude-inclined supercrips will doubtlessly covet the SnowPod—a miniature tank designed for mountaineering by Peter Rieke, 46, who was paralyzed from the waist down six years ago in a climbing accident on Washington's Index Town Wall. Last June, he cranked his way up 14,410-foot Mount Rainier while strapped into his cat-tracked, yellow-tubed SnowPod, signaling a new high in wilderness access for the disabled. Rieke invested $25,000 and nearly five years welding and bending steel to create the Pod, and his success on Rainier won him a $32,000 grant from the Arthur B. Schultz Foundation to build four more. Weighing in at 65 pounds, the 49-speed vehicle will handily climb a 45-degree slope. Touts the Web site for Rieke's Pod-building company, Mobility Engineering: "Looks cool, chicks dig it."

 

Data

Bridge Day, West Virginia
Hours it will be legal to BASE jump off Fayetteville, West Virginia's New River Gorge Bridge on October 21: 6
Total number of jumpers expected this year: 350
Total jumps last year, approximate: 1,000
Distance from deck to ground, in feet: 876
Time, in seconds, for a free-falling body to travel it: 8
Seconds most jumperswait before pulling ripcord: 4
Seconds seasoned jumpers wait: 4
Spectators on hand: 200,000
Ambulances standing by: 18
Total injuries last year: 6
Those classified as "minor": 5
Average number of canopies that are open at once: 4
Pizzas donated to jumpers by Bridge Day organizers: 75

Filed To: Biking
From Outside Magazine, Oct 2000

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Comments

Not Now

News from the Field

Every day you give your best. Now get ours.

Thank you!