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Adaptive bikes keep dedicated rider in the saddle

SemiNative

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Linda Tripp is “still out there - living,” despite her limitations.
  • Linda Tripp is “still out there living,” despite her limitations.
Linda Tripp got her first mountain bike in 1987. Riding was a way for her to bond with her family, but being on her bike was more than just a pastime; it was a passion. She would ride trails four or five days a week.

That passion was derailed when she had her second neck surgery in 2010. “I had my neck fused twice,” says Tripp, now 70. The second surgery left the better part of her cervical spine fused with rods inserted — and that’s when doctors told her it was just too dangerous for her to ride her bike or ski, her other passion.

“A fall could cause me to be a quadriplegic,” she says. “My family vetoed the idea of me riding.”

On a family trip to Crested Butte a couple years later, she recalls her family was out riding and she was struggling. But when her son saw someone on a recumbent tricycle on that 2012 trip, he had an idea to get his mom biking again.

He knew Allen Beauchamp through the cycling community and went to see him at CycleDifferent, where Beauchamp worked at the time. Beauchamp, who holds many bike-related titles in town, including Adaptive Cycling Specialist for the city of Colorado Springs, fitted her with a trike that had three 20-inch wheels with little knobby tires. It was enough to have her on the road and some trails again, but not mountain biking.

Beauchamp recalls that the day a trike with fat tires was released he received a note from Tripp saying, “I need one.” She ordered it without ever sitting in one, but that fat-tire trike gave her the ability to be on the trails again.

And now she’s riding it three or four days a week, including a weekly trip from her home in Cheyenne Cañon to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

“I’m still living my life fully,” she says. “I just have to adjust what the fullness means.”

A little over three years ago, the retired elementary school teacher was forced to adjust again when she received an ALS diagnosis. Luckily, her ALS is progressing slowly — something she says her two doctors in Denver attribute in part to her active lifestyle. In addition to mountain biking, Tripp plays golf regularly. And thanks to adaptive skiing, she’s even been able to be on the slopes with her grandkids.

“I’m finding when I’m on my trike I do feel that empowerment,” she says. “I’m still doing something I truly love. I’m just doing it a little differently.”

About 18 months ago, Tripp added a battery assist to her trike. It adds a little oomph when she needs it. She also relies on friends to help her load her trike into her vehicle to get out to the trails. She calls them Sherpas, and they often go riding with her. They scout the trails to make sure she can make it through, and sometimes if it’s too steep, they’ll carry the trike up the incline and then help Tripp up to her bike.

Though Beauchamp says the trikes are far more stable, which is what allows Tripp to enjoy riding again, she has tipped hers over. “She’s a foot-to-the-floor type of lady,” says Beauchamp.

“I have rolled them four times,” she says. “The kids just shake their heads, and the people at AngleTech (CycleDifferent), say ‘Bring it in, we’ll fix it up again.’”

Her daughter got a new bike recently and went on a ride with Tripp. “She only whined three times,” says Tripp with a laugh. Her daughter admitted she needs to get in shape to be able to keep up with her 70-year-old mother.

“When I get on my trike, I go to my happy place. I don’t think of the issues I have, I’m just out there riding,” Tripp says. “I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, I want people to know I’m still out there living.”

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