Adaptive Biking Again? Third Time is a Charm in Worcester

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A parade of bikes sets off from the Worcester Visitor Center

Perhaps you have noticed we’ve been talking a lot about adaptive biking when you check in here. For the month of May, it’s been at the top of my “to do” list.  You see, I am not only a National Park Volunteer with the Blackstone Heritage Corridor (VIP), I am also a participant in these adaptive biking events. There is still time to participate in the last two events, but you must register. To register for the remaining rides in May, call 413-584-2052.

Until my husband and I discovered a foot-forward tandem bike I could ride with his support, I was relegated to sitting on the sidelines when biking was on the agenda for others around me. My right leg and foot have little muscle control. My balance is not great. But the day we climbed aboard a rental Sun foot-forward tandem bike, I was able to see where my foot was, was able to (mostly) keep that foot on the pedal, and could sail along right behind my husband as I rode on the back of the tandem. We were hooked, and eventually obtained one of these bikes for ourselves. Joy!

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On another ride with All Out adventures, on the back of a Sun foot-forward tandem

Other folks have offered to take me for rides, but until All Out Adventures brought along their Sun Tandem to an adaptive biking event I was volunteering at, I had not been able to join in on the fun. And oh, these bike rides are nothing if not fun.

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It takes a lot of coordination to get everyone into a bike that fits, that works for them, that will offer a safe and fun experience.

May 2019 has offered five chances for area folks to climb onto adaptive bikes and sail down the bike path. Some events have taken place in Blackstone, others in Worcester.

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Volunteers getting ready to go to work!

This third event (of the five) offered the opportunity for volunteers to hit their stride. We’d done this before, we knew what to expect, and many volunteers have been on board for all or most of the events.

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Although the sun came out, it was a cold day in May–many of us were grateful for extra clothes to keep warm on the trail

And then the unexpected occurred, which we really should have expected. The weather cleared up, after countless days of rain. Hooray! A large school group arrived, with younger participants, filled with energy and all eager to get out and enjoy the bike path. One rider using a hand-crank bike had not quite mastered his brakes and went sailing off into the grass. We slowed down the parade and got him farther back in the pack, with a volunteer to keep him company (after making sure he knew how to use the brakes!). Almost every single bike that was available was out on the trail. Then we got word that one rider had had enough–he was walking back. A staff person grabbed a bike and sailed off to help retrieve the bike that was left over.

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Volunteers doing what needed to get done. This hill was a bit much for riders using the hand crank drive, so volunteers got behind them and helped push them up that last hill.

Everyone eventually got back in one piece, but the staff and volunteers all looked like they’d had a workout.

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Volunteers hanging out at the half-way point of the ride

Then the TV station showed up with a camera. But everyone had just finished, and we received word that the next group had suddenly cancelled. What did we have for the camera? We had heartwarming testimonials from riders who had previously never ridden a bike in their lives because of their physical limitations. We had volunteers who have stood by through many of these events, ready to help, who were suddenly urged to grab a bike and help create a colorful parade of adaptive bikes for the camera.

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Our new unicycle friend, Sean, joined us for the ride with other volunteers

We met a visitor who pedaled his unicycle on the trail. Turns out he’s a long-haul trucker who carries his unicycle wherever he goes. It was his lunch break. He joined us on the parade for the TV camera too. What fun.

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The Blackstone River flows directly next to the bike path

We took in views of the sparkling waters of the Blackstone River, hidden behind the walls of the highway, behind the walls of stores, and railroad tracks. On this day, for all of us who pedaled, or received help pedaling on the bikeway, and for any visitors who make the effort to travel on the bike path, using whatever mode of transportation they can manage, the river is clearly visible.

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Such a glorious river, sparking in the sunshine

The Blackstone River, which has had such an impact on this landscape, on the peoples who have lived here, and those who live here now, continues to flow. Such a simple idea–make available bikes so almost anyone can take in the beauty of the river. And yet, it takes a village to make it happen.

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Proud to share a small part in what these amazing volunteers and staff accomplished

I, for one, am so grateful to not only be part of that village, but to enjoy personally the benefits of events such as this, as well. Happy  trails!

Marjorie

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Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed

2 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

2 responses to “Adaptive Biking Again? Third Time is a Charm in Worcester

    • marjorie561

      We had perfect weather for every single event in this series–simply amazing, esp. considering all the rain we have had…

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