More than 100 miles of mountain biking trails around Central Oregon are now available for adaptive riding. The Central Oregon Trails Alliance (COTA) says it was possible because of a grant from an anonymous donor.
For traditional riders, the trails won’t have any noticeable changes. However, even a minor adjustment to a single feature can transform the experience for an adaptive rider.
Like many seasoned mountain bikers, Skye Chaney gets into the weeds when talking about his ride. To him, it’s tinkered to perfection. But his personalized setup likely looks a bit different than yours with fully electric acceleration and an extra wheel.
Chaney is an adaptive rider, and thanks to the improvements, finding his new favorite trail is now much more accessible.
“I moved to bend for that reason that I can ride again,” he said. “Having that movement for our adapted riders, our handicapped folks, to be able to access these trails — that’s huge.”
COTA assessed more than 100 miles of biking trails, improving access and adjusting features to lighten the burden on adaptive riders.
“We have some local adaptive riders, and we knew that most of the trails were actually quite suitable for adaptive riding,” COTA Executive Director Emmy Andrews said. “We just really needed to document that information and kind of get it out to the world. A lot of these trails make a really terrific riding experience just the way they are.”
Only 10 to 15 features throughout Central Oregon were changed to improve accessibility — areas that were deemed impassable for those riding adaptive bikes.
“What we are looking for when we go out and provide programing is specific features are things that interact differently with adaptive mountain bikes than they would with a traditional mountain bike,” Oregon Adaptive Sports (OAS) Executive Director Pat Addobbo said.
OAS helped COTA complete the assessments earlier this year.
“Really narrow trees, really inconsistent rock gardens,” Addobbo said. “There might be 10 feet of a trail that renders 10 miles useless because of an adaptive mountain bike getting to a place where they simply cannot get through or get by.”
Andrews says the trails are for everyone and believes it’s the association’s duty to make them enjoyable for all riders.
“Just the awareness that like, when you’re out on the trails, you might see members of the adaptive community and just introducing people to what that is, because the bikes do look a little different,” she said.
Chaney says he hopes the community interacts with adaptive riders the same as anyone else you encounter on the trails.
“We’re out here doing the same thing that everybody else is who’s riding the trails and we’re enjoying the forests and enjoying that freedom,” he said. “We can fit on the trails, so just treat it like anybody else.”
The manual labor was only a fraction of the work. Suggested routes and videos for specific trail features can be found on COTA’s website.
Andrews added they are still seeking additional feedback from adaptive riders to continue improving trail access.