Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Great Lakes Independence Ride 2012

Words and photos by Mike Eliasohn

The sixth annual Great Lakes Independence Ride, otherwise known as IRIDE (www.independenceride.org), started Aug. 2 in St. Joseph and ended four days and 240 miles later in Ann Arbor.
The ride is a project of the Center for Independent Living in Ann Arbor,  "a nonprofit organization dedicated to the success of children, youth and adults with disabilities at home, at school, at work and in the community," to quote from its website (www.annarborcil.org).
Glen Ashlock, the center's director of sports and recreation and a ride participant, said 52 riders pedaled  the entire distance, while another 10 to 12 rode at least one day. About eight riders were on hand cycles and two or three with visual impairments rode on the back of tandems.  The longest single day stretch was 63 miles.
The ride also was a fund raiser for the Disability Network/Michigan and the Centers for Independent Living in the state.
Prior to the start of the ride on Aug. 2 in St. Joseph, Jim Nieters (on ground) works on the Invacare Top End Force R handcycle of Bryan Wilkinson (in wheelchair) of Howell.  The Invacare Top End Force 2 handcycle of Brad Baumann of Zeeland is in the foreground. Jim was a rider and mechanic on IRIDE.

A closeup of the Invacare Top End Excelerator XLT Pro ridden by Tom Hoatlin of South Lyon. It has 27 speeds. Notice the upside down deraileurs for the triple chainrings and 9-speed cassette and two brakes on the front wheel.
This Invacare Force R, ridden by Bryan Wilkinson, also has 27 speeds, and a disk brake on the front wheel. No rear brakes.
Departing from the offices of the Area Agency on Aging and Disability Network/Southwest Michigan, these two handcycle riders show very different riding positions.  Above is Tom Hoatlin and below is Brad Baumann. Glen Ashlock said the riding position is determined partially by rider preference and partially by disability. For instance, the upright position enables the rider to use his or her trunk muscles more.

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