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Cyclists discover their freedom in Therapeutic Recreation Program's adaptive cycling rides

Photo gallery: Therapeutic Rec Program's adaptive cycling ride
Video: Adaptive Cycling Ride

Jess Stringham sat proudly on the "General Lee," his three-wheeled, hand-pedaled machine, and spoke the truth.

"I live to ride and ride to live," he said.

Stringham named his three-wheeler after the hotrod in his favorite childhood TV show, the "Dukes of Hazard."

His longest ride to date is three miles.

"It was intense, I was worn out," said Stringham, who has cerebral palsy. "I was shaking and I couldn't do anything the rest of the day. But it felt good. It felt really good."

District 11 school teacher Mary Ann Luers lost her left leg to cancer two years ago. Today she walks with the help of a prosthetic that uses microchip technology to sense her movement and automatically step with her.

She had ridden a bicycle before she lost her leg and is determined to ride again.

"I'd like to feel like I'm somewhat back to normal," she said.

Ben Thomas wants to be a wheelchair racer. He plans to race in the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs this year and likes to cross train on a hand-pedaled three-wheeler. He said multiple sclerosis slowly stole the use of his legs.

These are the stories of the cyclists who participate in the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program's adaptive cycling rides.

Bicycling advocates Kelvin Clark and Allen Beauchamp throw the doors open at Angletech Cycles (1483 Garden of the Gods Rd.) for the Therapeutic Rec cyclists.

On Sunday (April 17) about a dozen cyclists with various disabilities took a ride on Angletech's unique recumbent bikes, trikes and hand- pedaled machines.

"We couldn't have our adaptive cycling program without Angletech," said Diane Ridderhoff, program supervisor for Therapeutic Rec.

The rides are open to all. To learn more, check out the Colorado Springs Therapeutic Recreation Program website. Organizers do charge a $9 to do the ride. The fee covers the cost of staffing, transporting equipment, etc.

Ridderhoff said the cyclists make great discoveries on the weekend rides, building endurance, strength and self confidence.  But she said there is more happening for them with every pedal stroke.

"What is really cool is to see them finding their independence," she said.

Pedaling away from the group as it prepared for the ride, Adam Rhoades discovered the independence he'd lost when he sustained a traumatic brain injury in an ATV accident.

"That is as far away as he has been from us since the accident," said his mother, Debby Rhoades. "I can't describe this. I can't say how important this is for us."

Beauchamp helped arrange a visit from a special guest on Sunday. Independent film maker Carl Jameson, who wrote, directed and shot the award winning film "The Bicyclists," took some video of the group ride and conducted interviews with all of the cyclists.

Jameson, of Portland, was in town for the Indie Film Festival. He plans to make a short film - probably three to five minutes - about the Therapeutic Recreation Program and the people who challenge themselves to discover the freedom of cycling. The film will be used to promote the program.
"This is the kind of stuff I like to do," Jameson said. "I like my films to have an effect."

Check out Jameson's website here.

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Awesome story!



Thank you so very much for coming out last weekend to cover this. It was an amazing time and you'll definitely be involved in the post-filming editing process. Carl will work on the first cut and we'll have that available for critique.


Being involved in the Therapeutic Recreation Program has been so absolutely rewarding personally for me. Simple joys enjoyed fully :)






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