Jet Turner doesn’t let his spinal cord injury stop him from getting out into the backcountry and riding the trails. For the past six years he’s been coming to Moab Mania! Off-Road Handcycle Camps to experience the Moab area’s red-rock scenery and desert trails.
Participants, most of whom have had spinal cord injuries, ride three-wheel handcycles, using their arms as opposed to their legs to crank along.
Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) is a Colorado-based nonprofit that creates outdoor activity opportunities for people with disabilities. The organization began hosting the handcycle camps in Moab seven years ago. Staff members guide riders and assist on technical sections of the trails at times.
Turner, of Hailey, Idaho, became disabled after a motorcycle accident when he was 16. Handcycling is fun and a sport he enjoys doing with others, he said. For that reason, he attends as many of the Moab camps as he can. They’re held in the spring and fall each year.
“I’m here (Idaho) in the mountains and trees,” he said. “It’s a whole different world there with the red rock and desert trails. A lot of the trails are technical, and very challenging.”
While in town attending the camp that goes from Sept. 27 through Oct. 2, Turner will join other participants at TASP’s first-ever “expo” at the Moab Farmers Market on Friday, Sept. 29, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West.
Riders and their customized bikes – which accommodate their specific disabilities – will be at the farmers market, along with TASP staff members, to answer questions about the equipment, riding styles and what it is like living with a disability.
“All of our riders, participants, will be there as well as the Crested Butte, Colorado, bike-maker himself,” TASP Program Assistant Derek Nunner said. “We wanted to make it open and approachable to the Moab community.”
Turner said they also want to grow the sport – it’s a small community that handcycles, he said. He bought his own bike from Crested Butte bike-maker Jake O’Connor of ReActive Adaptations five years ago. The two men have become friends and ridden in several events together over the years.
Moab Mania! Off-Road Handcycle participants come from across the country to experience the Moab area’s unique landscapes and ride on its dirt and slickrock trails.
“It’s a unique spot to challenge themselves,” Nunner said. “We scout the trails (beforehand, and) partner with land agencies to get permits.”
On super-technical trails, TASP guides walk so that they can be available to spot riders if necessary. Otherwise guides ride their own typical upright bikes either behind or in front of the handcycle riders. Rides typically last for three to five hours, and cover 3 to 8 miles, Nunner said.
Telluride Adaptive Sports Program offers winter programming in Telluride and rock climbing and rafting during the summer. Its “off-season” is the perfect time to be in Moab, Nunner said.
“It offers such a unique landscape,” Nunner said. “We saw the need and want of our participants.”
“We’re happy to engage the Moab community about adaptive recreation,” he added. “It will be an opening opportunity for questions. Come over and ask anything.”
Adaptive sports camp expo comes to farmers market on Sept. 29
What: Telluride Adaptive Sports Program’s off-road handcycle program and expo
When: Friday, Sept. 29, from 4 to 7 p.m.
Where: Moab Farmers Market, Swanny City Park, 400 N. 100 West
Information: 970-728-5010; www.tellurideadaptivesports.org
For more information, or to read a blog about last year’s handcycling event in Moab, visit: tellurideadaptivesports.org/moab-mania-2016/.