Handcyclists and adaptive mountain bikers converge on Keystone
Summit Daily News
KEYSTONE ” Summit County’s Handcycle and Adaptive Mountain Bike Festival returned to Keystone this weekend as a second annual event.
As a tribute to the growing popularity of handcycling and adaptive mountain biking in Colorado, the number of participants at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center event was nearly twice what it was last year.
“We got about 20 people out for one or both of the days,” said Joe Kusumoto, program supervisor of the Keystone Adaptive Center (a program of the BOEC). “We saw a lot more mountain bikers, it was encouraging.”
Road and mountain bikers registered for the event then parted ways outside Keystone’s Mountain House on Saturday morning. Mountain bikers headed to the Summit Chair at River Run while road bikers took to the bike paths. Participants were allowed to try both mediums over the course of the weekend and bikes of several types were available for use.
“A big part of this is about folks getting out and riding together,” Kusumoto said. “And another part is the equipment. Bikes are not easily accessible to everyone because they’re fairly expensive.”
“I have my own handcycle, but I wanted to try mountain biking,” Geoff Knechtel explained as part of his reasoning for traveling to Summit from Colorado Springs for the festival. “It can be like $10,000 for a downhill rig.”
Beth Newsom, another handcycle owner from the Front Range, spoke to her motivation for attending the event.
“Handcycling down in Denver is pretty much impossible during the summer because it’s so hot,” said Newsom, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly 14 years ago. “I also feel isolated a lot of times down there. Up here, it’s so nice to have other people you can to talk to, where you don’t feel different and alone ” riding with them is really important.”
Newsom, who has been handcycling for about three years recalled the hardest parts about learning how to ride for the first time.
“The main thing is that you have to lean in order to keep control and in order to turn,” she said. “And you have to learn how to go from using your hand to cycle to using the brakes, which are on a lower part of the bike. … It wasn’t that hard, it was just different ” you just have to think about it.”
One of the many volunteers on hand for Saturday’s instructional and guided rides was Sarah Will, a two-time Paralympic gold medalist and former women’s world champion in disabled skiing.
Will is the executive director of AXS Vail Valley, a nonprofit corporation that encourages the growth of recreation programs and services for physically disabled Vail Valley residents and visitors.
“We don’t run programs like the BOEC, we try to improve services and expand what already exists,” said Will, who loaned a mountain bike to the festival on AXS’ behalf.
“We just got a couple of handcycles that we want to give to a local bike store so they’re available for people who come up to the High Country. They can ride either with the BOEC or in Vail area.”
The BOEC will offer handcycling and adaptive mountain biking lessons throughout the summer. For more info, call (970) 453-6422.
Adaptive Adventures of Evergreen and Adaptive Sports Center of Crested Butte also contributed bikes to the festival.
Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634 or at email@example.com.
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