For all the rain we had this spring, somehow every single scheduled date for the Adaptive Biking program in the Blackstone Valley brought, if not bright sunny skies, at least a reprieve from the near constant rain we have experienced of late. The last date, held in Blackstone, brought clear skies, and a festive mood.
Before we knew it, popsicles were part of the event–summer must be around the corner!
We had repeat riders, back from another chance to enjoy the freedom offered on the multiple varieties of adaptive bikes available.
Some of our riders are simply older and less able to balance safely on two wheels. Some transferred from wheelchairs into hand-crank trikes. Others needed a support person to handle the balancing, pedaling, and steering. And others had challenges that were less obvious. All were welcomed, and many participants (and volunteers) enjoyed ice cream bars or popsicles before they set out for their rides.
Throughout the day, the conversation centered on this being the last event for now. But woven through the conversation was the question, “How do we make this happen again?” One possibility is that civic clubs may want to sponsor an event in the future.
Another idea floated was that All Out Adventures has adaptive bikes they sell, but people in this area have a hard time traveling to their shop in Hadley, MA. Perhaps they could bring bikes for sale out to the Blackstone Valley, where people could try out the bikes on the bikeway in Blackstone, to help them see what type of bike might work best for them. No plans were finalized, but stay tuned, and get on the Blackstone Heritage Corridor’s mailing list so you will be the first to know when future events are available.
We had not only repeat participants. We also had repeat volunteers, many of whom attended multiple events in the series. With each week, the volunteers (sometimes known as “groupies”) have grown to know each other better, have learned more about common interests, and are building friendships.
And did we mention that the lady slippers are blooming? While I sailed down the bikeway on the Sun Tandem with Suzanne Buchanan, Volunteer Coordinator for the Heritage Corridor, captaining the bike, the flashy pink of blooming lady slippers caught my eye. “Stop!” I called, and hurried over to capture my first sighting of lady slippers in the season.
When I checked with riders at the Millville refreshment stop, at least one rider, Larry, had noticed. This was Larry’s second ride. When he got back to where we started, he thanked everyone, and said he would be back whenever we had another event.
Tina Pedersen, Ms. Wheelchair Rhode Island, returned for another visit with her motorized scooter, and climbed aboard a handcrank single trike. She powered off down the trail. Her light and laughter and determination inspired us all.
Rather than hurry to clean up at the end of the day, we lingered, Suzanne grabbed the Sun tandem and invited me to get one more ride in with her. When we returned we stretched out the inevitable good byes.
Few know or can appreciate the amount of behind the scenes planning required to make events such as these so successful. Kudos to those who first imagined that we would get the support to make the program successful.
To the volunteers from many directions who rallied to help out in whatever way they could. And to those who figured out that biking really can be for everyone, with a little help from friends. Till next time!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.