Hi there! Rachel here, I'd like to kick off this blog with a somewhat personal story about why we are expanding CycleAbility and what we hope to do. Bear in mind that we will be experiencing some growing pains over the next year, but I want to share with you my intentions for Cycleability and hope that you will be a part of it.
Let's Start From the Beginning
CycleAbility was started 3 years ago by the Palmer family to help their son Elijah learn to ride a two-wheeled mountain bike so he could ride with his high-school mountain bike team. They partnered with iCanShine, a non-profit with specialized bikes that teach balance and coordination while discouraging dependence on training-wheels or other adapted support. These bikes allow riders to transition from the trainer bikes to two-wheels quickly and with nearly a 90% success rate.
During CycleAbility's first year, I was working for the high-school mountain bike league that Elijah wanted to race in and I volunteered to help during the first camp. That week of camp became one of the most memorable experiences of my life and since then, each year, bike camp week is my favorite week of the year and consistently changes my life for the better.
We see this with so many of our volunteers, they come in to do something meaningful for a special-needs rider, and both the rider and the volunteer walk (or ride) away with a life-changing experiences.
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela:
"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead."
Which leads to the first reason that we are expanding CycleAbility: because learning to ride a bike is a life-improving experience, but also that helping someone learn can be even more life-changing. It's a Win-Win! And these experiences deserve full-time dedication.
Cycling is for Everyone
Secondly, we've discovered that there is a void in the opportunities offered for normative riding and adaptive sports. Many special needs riders don't need adaptive equipment, and are forced into it because they fall into the non-normative category. This is counter-productive because while learning to ride even an adaptive bike is freeing, it also puts limitations on the riders that they don't need.
Further, many kids who would fall into the normative category (meaning not diagnosed with a special need or disability) struggle with learning to ride a bike. Their parents try and try without success. This can be emotionally challenging for both the rider and their parents.
This gap between adaptive cycling and normative cycling is likely quite expansive and we want to build a bridge that is inclusive of all abilities. To do this we will support both adaptive programs like the National Abilities Center and Wasatch Adaptive Sports as well as normative programs like NICA, while helping to fill in where those programs don't focus.
We've also found that many families with kids just learning to ride can be strapped for cash and can't necessarily afford cycling equipment or opportunities like bike camp. Therefore, we will be structuring our programs to help fund our special needs efforts. The profits from our normative private lessons will be used to offer financial aid and equipment to non-normative riders and families including those with special needs or who are in minority populations.
Go Beyond the Bike
Finally, we want to create a collection of online resources, tips and tricks, and inspiration for cyclists of all abilities through our blog. Most cycling blogs are intended for advanced-level audiences and discuss things like the gram difference in derailleurs, what PSI do you race, and use words that need a translator.
Over time, we will be populating our blog with content that is relevant to riders of all abilities. Just like learning to ride a bike, it will take some time, some failures, and constant motion, but we will get there!
Help Us Out!
You can help by sharing your CycleAbility story and suggestions with us. Tell us what you want more of, what isn't relevant, and how we can help you and your family get out and ride.
Mark Twain once wrote "the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."
This is our why.