“Hey, those are electric bikes,” I blurted
out to myself.
Pat Donahue and Jet Turner are a
couple of middle-aged mountain bikers
who happen to be quadriplegics. Pat
is the wild and crazy one; Jet the more
circumspect of the two. The ride was
being led by Mose Duchano, who is
the recreation program coordinator at
Higher Ground, along with his trusty trail
partner, Toby, a 110-pound hound dog.
From where we got ready, the trailhead
beckoned just a few feet away and
looked to climb steadily.
As I watched Pat and Jet struggle
to get their handcycles up the dou-
ble-track trail, I was quickly reminded of
how much able-bodied people take for
granted in life. The start of the ride was
easy-breezy—for me; not so much so
for Pat and Jet. And despite having to
make repeated stops, they never com-
plained or whined about trying to make
it over a series of obstacles. For these
two go-getters, it was obvious that they
were having the time of their lives.
One thing I noticed was that despite
both Pat and Jet being quadraplegics,
they were riding two distinctly different
types of bikes. Both were made by
ReActive Adaptations in Crested Butte,
Colorado, but each design was based
on a unique seating position with com-
pletely different pedaling and steering.
Jet was riding the Bomber, which has
a lean-forward position, while a truly
ingenious, secondary, linkage-operated
steering system is built into a chest pad
that he operates by leaning from side
to side while he pedals. Pat’s bike was
called the Nuke, and it uses a more
traditional recumbent seating position.
Both bikes roll on 24-inch wheels shod
with burly knobby tires.
Because of the effect of his paraly-
sis on his body, Pat in particular would
have fits of hard breathing every time
he stopped. Initially, I was taken aback
at the sight and sound of him in seem-
ing distress. Of course, once he finally
caught his breath, Pat would be the first
one to offer a wisecrack about it.
Pat Dougherty was injured racing
motocross back in 2003. After he was
hurt, he started to ride a road bike
around his hometown of Boise, Idaho,
but he quickly realized that the real
opportunity for fun lay in the nearby
mountain range where he once rode his
motorcycle. “I had already been active
with Higher Ground and their winter
ski program, and although I had a road
bike that I had been riding, I’d always
be riding past these off-road areas and
be thinking how cool it would be to
ride up there. Once I started looking
into it, I found out about these off-road
handcycles and realized that was what I
Sun Valley, Idaho provides perfect playground
for outdoor enthusiasts of every stripe.