Thursday, June 18, 2009

U don't need legs to bike

I have two friends who have physical disabilities that prevent them from running, but the Charlotte Observer story below shows how they can still stay in shape.

A $10,000 grant is giving people with physical disabilities an opportunity to experience the thrill of mountain biking.

Cornelius-based The Cycle Path has two off-road hand cycles available for riders to borrow. They are free to use, but Cycle Path owner Mark Sullivan is having a hard time finding riders. He bought the bikes hoping they would provide physical activities for injured veterans. So far, Sullivan hasn't had many takers – veterans or civilians – and he wants to change that.

“We don't want them just hanging there and collecting dust,” he said.

Transamerica Reinsurance Co. provided the grant for Cycle Path to buy the bikes, which cost $5,000 each. The bikes have two wheels in the front and one in the back. The arm-powered cycles can be steered with the rider's chest and hands.

Thanks to the Tarheel Trailblazers mountain bike club, hand cyclists can stay in the Cornelius area to use them. The Trailblazers built a mile-long trail at Jetton Park that is wider than typical trails to accommodate the larger bike. There is also an adaptive trail at Southwest District Park.

Several trails at Lake Norman State Park are also wide enough to accommodate the bikes, said Tom Mathews, past president of the Tarheel Trailblazers.

For more information: The Cycle Path, 20900 N. Main St., Cornelius. 704-896-3331.

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