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Determination on wheels

By Buckshot

Howdy! Grab a chair an’ a beer! Well, my ol’ grandpappy used ta say, “Ya can have justice, or ya can have the law, but ya can’t have ’em both at once.” Looks like he was smarter than we figured… Anyway, life goes on, an’ Reggie an’ I are livin’ proof of that.

I’ve been doin’ some serious thinkin’ here (yeah, I know, but I do try somethin’ new now an’ then), an’ I think there’s a need for modifications to make riding more accessible to handicapped riders. Everywhere we go, people ask Reggie about her trike, how she rides it with her handicap, and where they can get information on it for their handicapped friends an’ family who really want to ride, or to start ridin’ again. Most of ya already know that she’s totally numb on her left side from above the navel all the way down, an’ that makes her left leg useless, an’ her balance bad, cause she can’t feel one side of her butt. I can still feel both sides of it, but that’s a different story. I had ta laugh the first time she tried ta ride it, because she stopped in the middle of our little two lane country road an’ tried ta put her feet down. She couldn’t put her left foot down because she can’t move it, an’ she couldn’t figure out how ta turn the trike around without leaning. I had ta run down there an’ tell her that she had ta actually steer it like she would a snowmobile. Once she got the idea, she was scootin’ around like she’d been ridin’ it for years!

I had ta do a lot of design an’ fab work to get her confidence up again, an’ get her out on the road.

I know there are shops out there that do those kinds of modifications, but they’re usually in a big city far away from where the need is for country folks. That’s why I’ve decided that retirement is just a bit too dull for an ol’ road dog like me, so I’m kick startin’ my shop, Madtown Customs, here in Madera, California, with a labor rate of $45 an hour for handicapped riders!

I’ve been buildin’ a few “old school” chops, but not takin’ it very seriously till now. Yeah, I’m still gonna do that, an’ I’ll build complete bikes with the ’70s look, but I’m also takin’ in a few select jobs here an’ there. I enjoy customizin’ bikes like I’ve been doin’ for my friends, an’ I’m going to start dressin’ up a few bikes a month for folks who want ta come by an’ grab a chair an’ a beer. I really think that more handicapped riders need ta get back in the wind, too, an’ maybe I can help ’em out. Did ya see the exposed chain drives on that wheelchair chopper the Teutuls built on TV? Over the years, I’ve shelled more chains than a monkey has peanuts, an’ I can tell ya, it’d be a bitch ridin’ that thing if it cut yer arms off too! Now, wheelchair trikes are in the minority, because most folks who stop ridin’ do it because of balance problems, or problems with one or both legs. They need a bike designed an’ built just for them, at a price they can afford.

I had ta design an’ fab a cable-operated shifter for Reggie so she can shift an’ brake with her right foot. I thought it might be a problem, but within an hour, she was bangin’ gears like a pro! Determination plays a big part in any recovery, whether it’s recoverin’ your health, or your will ta live. She’ll never get rid of the pain she’s in, but when she’s ridin’ she can smile in spite of it!

Harley-Davidson has jumped on the trike bandwagon, an’ that’s a great thing! But even the factory jobs sometimes need to be fitted to the needs of the rider.

Another option is a sidehack. I’ve seen ’em where you can lock down a wheelchair an’ control the bike from there, an’ that could work well for some riders. I’m going to start working on my own design, and maybe sometime late this year, I’ll have that option going.

If you want to get a closer look at Reggie’s trike, she’s puttin’ it in the Arlen Ness show in San Mateo later this month. Pardon the rock chips an’ scratches, but she rides the hell out of it, an’ that’s what happens. I’m touchin’ it up a bit, but between now an’ the show it’s bound ta collect some more “owies,” ’cause it’s no trailer queen!

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