Moab Mania gives disabled mountain bikers a chance to get back on the trail
by Laura Haley
contributing writer
Sep 27, 2012 | 3578 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
39 moab mania
Jake O’Connor and other participants ride hand-cycles on a slickrock trail near Moab. O’Connor, who is from from Crested Butte, Colo., is one of the coaches for the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program.
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Moab is no stranger to cycling events. Throughout spring and fall, the area plays host to a wide variety of cycling events of all kinds. But the Moab Mania cycling event is a little different than most.

Moab Mania, scheduled for Sept. 27-Oct. 2, caters to people who have had debilitating spinal injuries, or other injuries that prevent them from being able to ride a traditional bicycle, said Tim McGough, program director for the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP), which sponsors the event. Some of the participants were mountain bikers before they were injured, while others will be trying the sport for the first time.

“Hand cycles are specifically modified three-wheel cycles that are operated by hand,” McGough said.

McGough said that Moab Mania was designed as an offshoot of a ski camp that TASP offered to injured individuals.

“Moab Mania has grown consecutively for the last three years,” he said.

This year, the group will host nine riders from across the U.S.

The 2012 itinerary will be a little different than past years, according to McGough. Generally, the group would do a few days of riding, combined with a one-day float through Westwater Canyon with Splore. However, due to the low water levels this year, TASP was forced to skip the river trip.

Instead, the riders will be treated to several nights of camping, as well as a variety of rides on many of Moab’s well-known trails. McGough said that, in the past, the group has ridden Klondike Bluffs, Gemini Bridges, and the Slickrock Practice Loop.

“It’s really empowering for our guys, and for the mountain biking community to see that it’s not all over after an injury,” McGough said.

For a few of last year’s participants, the event was the first time they’d been camping in a tent since being injured, though most had camped regularly prior to their injuries. McGough said that’s what the program is designed to do.

“A big part of it is getting them back to living the way they lived before,” he said.

Moab Mania is the only camp of its kind offered through any sort of guide service or group, and the benefits are further reaching than just a bike ride, McGough said.

“Some of these guys have never ridden before,” he said. “Most of them have never ridden in any sort of group like this... Accomplishing the ride is second to the camaraderie and sharing the passion.”

McGough said that riders will begin arriving in Moab on Thursday. They will then go out for rides on Friday and Saturday. Sunday will be a day for them to rest their arms and explore town before doing a final day of riding on Monday. Signs will be posted at trailheads to alert other cyclists that the hand-cycles will be out on the trail.

“The way hand-cycles are designed, they’re three feet wide,” McGough said. “That’s generally as wide as most of the trails that we ride on.”

That can cause problems on the trail because the width of the hand-cycles makes it difficult for other cyclists to pass them on the trail – an issue that has arisen during past events, McGough said. As a result, people have ended up riding off the trail, sometimes destroying sensitive cryptobiotic soil in the area.

“If you encounter the group on the trail, please ask the trail guide when an appropriate time to pass would be,” McGough said.

He said that he hopes that with a little bit of common courtesy, the group can help prevent any additional damage to the trails.

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