While I was writing about adaptive cycling for people with disabilities two weeks ago, I remembered the adaptive adventures of my friend Ellee Thalheimer — yep, the one who’s writing the book on bike touring in Oregon.
Back in 2007, Ellee was leading a group of women on a bike tour across Texas and had a run-in with a well-camouflaged stormwater drain as she rode for a short stretch on the sidewalk of a fast and shoulderless two lane road in El Paso. The resulting spill cracked her helmet and broke her wrist in three places.
Never one to be stopped by such minor pitfalls, Ellee took her bike straight to a local shop and worked with them to fit it up with aerobars so she could steer, brake, and shift all with her left hand. Then she got a cast and a ride four hours north to catch back up with her tour.
My friend’s wrist healed and she’s back to fearlessly putting in long, mountainous miles with a shifter and brake on each side of her bike. But her story is a good parable of the way infrastructure can create disability when it is built without human-powered mobility in mind.
We don’t have to do it this way, America. Just saying.
[Photos provided by Ellee Thalheimer.]