Phil is an avid cyclist and skier who participates in WAS’s year-round programming. Though lessons were put on hold during the spring season, WAS still launched the Equipment Rental Program to provide adaptive bikes for students to use independently. Read about Phil’s experience with his rented adaptive bike as he heads out on the trails in Utah.
During the first part of the pandemic, it was really tough, being shut in for the most part. My mom who lives next door to me, will be 90 years old in August, and I have asthma and high blood pressure, so we are both in the high-risk group. Because of that higher risk, I had been extra careful, not going out anywhere that I might be exposed to the virus.
I was really excited when I found out WAS was going to start a rental program enabling me to keep a handcycle at home and get out and ride! I have some good friends who live nearby, who told me about a trail I could access from my house too! The first two times I went out with them, we rode from my house along the TRAX line from 80th South down to 110th South and back. Those rides ended up being just under nine miles round trip. I didn’t want to overdo it my first few times, so that distance was a good start.
I also have some good friends who live in Draper who started riding with me. They showed me how we could go further down into Draper and get on the Porter Rockwell Trail, then over to the Draper Canal Trail and back up to my house in Midvale. That ride ends up being around 24 or 25 miles depending on any side excursions. Right at the trailhead in Draper for the Porter Rockwell Trail, there is a little barnyard with a zebra, a couple of emus, and some goats. It’s a fun stop for a water break. Then further down the trail, it heads west along the mountain which provides a great view over the entire valley. It doesn’t feel like we have climbed much at that point, but from up there you can see that you have climbed more than expected which helps to give an extra feeling of achievement. That westward stretch also has several small hills, so it’s a good area for training.
I am hoping to ride the 50-mile leg of the Summit Challenge again this year, so my goal for riding is to increase my strength and stamina. So, besides riding along the trails I will be going over to the track at Jordan High School which is right by the trail from where I live. There, on the track, I’ll be able to work on my endurance, as I work on riding longer distances. Plus, I can alternate between different gears to make myself have to work harder as I attempt to increase my stamina.
It has been great to find out I can ride from my house and get out and stay active. The biggest challenge has been finding people to ride with me. I would ride almost every day if I could. The disadvantage of riding from my house, is that being so low, I feel really vulnerable in the areas where I have to cross busy streets or ride in the bike lane with cars whizzing by me. There are also several places along the trail that are not accessible for someone riding a handcycle. So, for those reasons, I haven’t gone out and ridden alone. My hope is that we can reach out to the cities and make those areas along with the trail user friendly by adding cut-outs in the curbs, and taking out, or changing the design of some of the safety barriers by the TRAX stations by the areas where we have to cross the street. There is an area where I have to ride in the bike lane down into the Jordan High School parking lot, then turn around and cross the street over to the bike lane on the other side in order to continue back onto the trail. In another area, to get around a barrier, I have to go into a neighborhood, turn around, and then come back using the bike lane on the street, just because there isn’t a cutout from the sidewalk to the street. I have learned to work around these barriers, and to be honest, most of the time I prefer to ride with someone.
There are times though, when I haven’t had someone to ride with me, and I would have preferred to get out and ride alone. I feel like I still need someone with me to act as a spotter or lookout for traffic in areas where there isn’t a stoplight, help me push the buttons where there is one, and help me navigate some of the other tricky spots.
In the long run, thanks to Wasatch Adaptive Sports and the rental program, I’ll have the opportunity to ride more. I’ll be able to keep gaining confidence, strength, endurance, and independence. Also, as we work together with cities to draw attention to the needs of riders like me with special needs, we will be able to create a greater level of awareness. This will bring about positive changes, which will lead to eliminating more of these existing barriers, creating a higher level of independence for everyone.