Exploring Colorado, USA thanks to his Mountain Trike off road wheelchair

Bryan Keene, while on an outing at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, demonstrates how he can alternate the motion of the levers to push his Mountain Trike forward. The Mountain Trike is an adaptive cycling machine for people with disabilities. (Jessica Benes / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Bryan Keene had always enjoyed the outdoors.

When he moved to Greeley in July 2001, he was eager to explore the hiking trails around Northern Colorado.

However, he didn’t get the chance right away because he was in a vehicle accident in November that same year and became paralyzed from the chest down.

“I didn’t get to explore much of Colorado until 2014,” he said, which is when he received a Mountain Trike made in the United Kingdom that finally allowed him to get on unpaved, rugged paths and actually traverse them rather than get stuck in his traditional wheelchair.

Keene said he went looking for offroad wheelchairs and found the Mountain Trike in a YouTube video.

Spokes N’ Motion in Denver is the only U.S. distributor of the trike and has been for only about a year and a half.

“I contacted the Denver distributor and set up a demo in 2013,” he said. “Within five minutes, I said out loud, ‘This will drastically change my life.'”

However, the bike cost about $7,500 and was cost prohibitive. He mentioned it on Facebook and told other adaptive sports groups in Colorado about the trike. Members of the Northern Colorado Cowboy Church in Lucerne where he goes to church decided to start a fundraiser in secret. They raised the funds to buy the trike for him.

He said the church was doing a series of sermons called “Got It for You” and were buying gifts for people in need.

“They were going out and buying gifts for people to show that you can pour out love to people that don’t have to be just deserving people, you can show it to anyone,” Keene said.

The members of the church felt that everyone should be able to experience nature, that it’s not just a luxury.

Keene figured that it was a luxury that only able-bodied people could afford to do. He figured it was something that wasn’t in his power to change.

Until they presented that Mountain Trike to him in May 2014.

Keene had been in a wheelchair for many years and hadn’t been doing much exercise before coming across the Mountain Trike. He couldn’t use a recumbent because it laid down too far, and he couldn’t use a machine that required him to use his abs.

The Mountain Trike has a “beveled back rest” that he said “really sucks him in and keeps him in place so he doesn’t fall over.” Other offroad manual trikes he found for disabled people were heavy and large and required a pickup truck.

He can fold down his Mountain Trike to fit in his car, and cruise with it right into a restaurant, since it looks similar to a wheelchair.

“This enables people with higher levels of injury to participate in these activities,” Keene said. “I just couldn’t get on those other adaptable equipment.”

He said he was passionate about the trike even though he wasn’t an owner at the time because he saw how quickly it could change his life and thought there must be many disabled people around that could take advantage of this.

“I haven’t seen anything else out there that can cater to higher injuries,” he said.

He loves going out on the trails at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space.

“With a normal wheelchair, you just can’t do any of those trails,” he said. “This allows me to go through mud, sand, water, all that stuff that typically a normal user won’t want to go through.”

He pushes two levers to guide the trike forward, which means his hands never have to touch the tires or the mud and snow they might accumulate.

“It is quite a workout, at first I could only maybe do two miles in this thing. Now I’m up to seven or so miles,” he said.

He added that it’s a great conversation piece, since people always want to know how he’s out on the trails in a wheelchair.

The Mountain Trike allowed him to go from experiencing about 5 to 10 percent of the world to 40 to 50 percent.

Keene worked as a 911 dispatcher for Rocky Mountain National Park from 2002 to 2007 and was never able to explore those trails until now.

“Since I’ve had the Mountain Trike I’ve been able to go out on these trails in Rocky and explore what I only envisioned before what people described,” he said.

Before, the only views he got were what he could see from a car, which wasn’t the same at all.

The feeling I get when I’m a couple miles in on a trail; that euphoric feeling. Almost every time I look around and feel so blessed I’m here,” he said.

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