Volunteering for Break the Boundary Adaptive MTB Adventure Camp
By Anna Sasson
I reconnected with Andrew this year when I returned to Perth after living abroad in British Columbia. During my time in Canada, I started to get into Mountain Biking and so I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the Break the Boundary team of volunteers and facilitate the Adaptive MTB Adventure Camp in Albany.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to expect from a 3-day, Adaptive MTB Adventure Camp, but Break the Boundary had everything covered and delivered an outstanding event.
We were based at Camp Quaranup, which is beautifully hidden near the tip of the Vancouver Peninsula opposite Albany city, Western Australia. I was in awe of the tranquil settings that we had found ourselves in, and the lovely dormitory-style accommodation that the grounds had.
Upon arrival on the Friday morning, the Camp Quaranup team showed us the terrain that we would use to design an adaptive mountain bike trail perfect for the novice off-road hand cyclist. When the participants, together with their companions arrived, Andrew and his two experienced support riders, Rich and Kelly, helped fit the participants in the hand cycles, showing them how to transition in and out of the hand cycles to determine what setup would most suit the individual.
Day 1 of Training – Saturday
After a well catered breakfast, the participants were shown how to secure themselves into the seat and how to pedal, change gears, turn and break. A few minor modifications had to be made to make the participants as comfortable as possible.
Observing the different methods each participant had to use to enter and secure themselves into their hand cycle accentuated and allowed me to appreciate the subtle personal preferences that all riders have. Andrew’s personal experiences and encouraging attitude bridged the gap between the participants entering the hand cycles as novices, to transforming into very excited, confident and capable off-road, adaptive mountain bikers!
One participant quickly started to test his own personal boundaries by increasing his speed at each descent, not long after he got ‘the gist’ of pedaling, turning and breaking. No turn was too big for him; and seeing that look of surprise, excitement and playfulness in his face made me realise how this 3-day Adaptive MTB Adventure Camp changes lives. In that moment he was free, he was alive, and he was in full, unassisted control of his destiny.
On the second day, the team pedaled up a trail that sprawled along the Vancouver Peninsula coastline. It was the participant’s first taste of natural trails. The encouragement, the determination, and the support that everyone provided each other made pedaling through sandy ditches and over rocks that more achievable.
We were all rewarded with the vast panoramic views of the WA coastline crawling out into Frenchman Bay. This shared achievement was perfectly summarised by one participant saying ‘I would not have gotten the chance to see this without the hand cycle’; and that’s what I love about biking. Bikes enable everyone to go and see places that you may not be able to access on foot. Andrew and Break the Boundary are creating the doorway for people with physical and neurological disabilities to access the freedoms and adventures on their doorstep.
The day was finished off to with an off-site visit to The Gap. The photos speak for themselves.
Day 2 of Training – Sunday
On the third day of the camp, the team graduated from make-shift obstacles on grass to a small off-road downhill trail with obstacles such as log rollovers and various debris. All participants quickly learnt when to break, when to lean and when to let go. I couldn’t help but get so stoked at how fast these guys were ripping down the trails!
We made a quick trip down to the jetty, played a bit of handcycle-cricket and climbed back up the grueling hill. It wasn’t long before everyone made the final touches to their car packing and left in time to get home by dark.
I thank Break the Boundary for giving me the opportunity to support this emerging supportive community, and I hope that word spreads that Break the Boundary is here in West Australia, ready to assist those with disabilities to get out there on a bike and ride!