Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring is here! That means biking again!

It's starting to warm up here in North Carolina. We regularly get temperatures of 50 degrees, though generally it's much colder in the mornings and evenings. The flowers, sensing the change in season, are beginning to bud and flower. The trees have yet to notice it seems but they will be soon to follow.

This is the perfect weather for biking, which I love to do at least once a week. My sister, the musically talented Helen Exner, performed at benefit concerts to raise money for any adaptive equipment I might need. That money went toward a new handbike, the best form of adaptive biking for someone in my situation.

It has a hand crank that acts as both handlebars and brakes. I'm able to get the exercise I need and the speed I crave all in one. I found out about this through Steve Ackerman, a paraplegic who not only races handbikes but sells them out of his home in Fort Collins, CO. Though he may not be near you, chances are he can ship one to you. You can contact Steve Ackerman at

My bike looks like this only painted red instead of green.

Having this cycle has opened up a whole new world to me, one I had almost forgotten existed. For most of college I didn't have a car, getting around by bike instead. I spent countless hours crossing the city to and fro. After my injury I was put on a stim-bike, a machine that combines motor powered movement with electrical stimulation. There has been research suggesting that this type of "Activity Based Rehab" increases function return in some patients. When I was put on the bike I turned on my ipod and daydreamed about biking across town on my way to class, work, or volunteering.

The stim-bike looked very similar to this machine here, though without the arm portion.

Those images haunted me for a long time, with their simplicity, beauty, and the fact that they were beyond my reach for good (or so I thought). When I was finally able to travel the road on my handbike all of that changed; I was fast, I was invincible, I was the MAN! I reconnected with a part of myself that I thought was gone forever.

Though the initial enthusiasm has worn off, I still get excited when it's warm enough to bike. I can bike the trails near my house, seeing parts of the woods previously unexplored. I can get my nature freak on! Whatever it is that you most like to do, chances are it can be adapted for people with various disabilities. Take charge of your life and do what makes you happy!

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