Saturday, May 28, 2011

Adaptive Recreation Fair in Boston June 4th!

Now is the time and THIS IS THE EVENT to discover adaptive recreation opportunities in the Boston area and beyond! Come to Artesani Park along the Charles River on Saturday, June 4 from 10am - 3pm and enjoy a day in the park! Test ride all kinds of adaptive bicycles for adults and kids. Stroll the green, meet adaptive recreation providers and see their equipment on display! Take a short hike in a mountain wheelchair or with a sighted guide! There are myriad possibilities for summer fun to be found here, so don't miss out! This is your chance to do one-stop shopping, meet friendly people and make new connections!

Participating organizations include:

Ability Plus
All Out Adventures
Blue Frog Party
CapeAble Adventures
Community Boating
DCR Universal Access Program
New England Disabled Sports
Northeast Passage
Outdoor Recreation of Hopkinton
Piers Park Sailing
Spaulding Rehab
Stavros Outdoor Access
U.S. Paralympics
Waypoint Adventures

Equipment on display will include the Hippocampe, Trail Rider, a wheelchair accessible camping tent, a beach wheelchair, and a sailboat. Check the sidebar here for links to the organizations above.

Facepainting, craft activities, gentle hikes, letterboxing, and a quest offer additional enjoyment for all ages. Light refreshments and water will be available. Bring your own lunch and picnic on site! Bring your bathing suit if you want to cool off in the spray pool!

Artesani Park is located at 1234 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton. Call 617-626-1294 to pre-register. ASL interpreters will be on site. You can read about last year's event here! This is "not just any day in the park"!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Set Sail in Boston!

I paid a visit to Community Boating in Boston on a gray day recently, to check out their brand new dock and catch a glimpse of their Universal Access Program in action. Wow! The new dock is fabulous - broad, spacious, clean, with a comfortable (and to code) grade from the boathouse to the boats. Most amazing of all, there is a designated slip for the adaptive sailboats. New dock, new program, same great price!

Community Boating (CBI) has the ideal location for learning to sail in Boston, right on the Esplanade and the Charles River, where the tide and commercial traffic pose no issue. Kids and people with disabilities are a high priority for this sailing organization now in its 8th decade of operation. So is affordability - membership dues are still $1 for the season - though of course donations are always welcome!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everyone Rides in the Berkshires

A therapist jogs alongside during a test ride on a
recumbent trike along the scenic Cheshire Reservior.
The rain held off for a special event in far western Massachusetts today - the kickoff of the new Everyone Rides program, a community collaborative project which will make a fleet of adaptive bicycles available for people with disabilities to use free of charge on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.

The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is my favorite rail trail in Massachusetts, traveling 11 miles from Adams to Pittsfield, passing along the Cheshire Reservoir at the base of Mt. Greylock. The adaptive bikes were purchased with money raised from an annual inclusive trialthlon event called Farnum's Challenge. Two local disability organizations, Ad Lib and UCP of Berkshire County, along with the Berkshire Bike Path Council , Mass DOT, and DCR, have worked together to obtain the bikes and develop a plan to make them available for independent use.

At today's event, interested riders met with a therapist to be custom fit to the right bike - a process that is required as part of the program. Once you have been properly fit to the right bike (interchangable seating allows for more personalized options), you can call to make a reservation to ride. All inquiries and reservations can be made to Dawn Matthews of UCP at 413-442-1562  ext. 24 or via

The introductory array of new bikes on display today was chosen to help provide access to the trail for a wide variety of users including adults and children. Four adult bikes by AmTryke included a handcycle, a conventional trike, a recumbent trike, and a trike with assistive supports. There were also four trikes for small kids designed to meet various needs and abilities. A Duet wheelchair tandem will also join the fleet soon, allowing for a passive rider to enjoy the front ride while being pedaled by a driver behind. A new building along the rail trail owned by DCR will house the bikes and has space for future additions to the fleet.

Merle Ferber - an inspirational force for access
in the Berkshires.
Merle Ferber, longtime disability rights activist in the Berkshires, received an award today for her role in helping to develop the Farnum's Challenge event and carry forward the vision to create Everyone Rides. "There are so many people out there who want to help us," she told the crowd, "Now we have bikes in our own community we can use to ride our local rail trail. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, and don't forget to wear your bike helmet when you ride!"

This year's Farnum's Challenge will be held on July 24. Each team must have at least one member with a disability. To participate in this popular event and support adaptive cycling, contact Ad Lib Independent Living Center at 413-443-4338 or UCP at 413-442-1562.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Into Cycling!

Adaptive cycling opportunities continue to grow throughout New England! Here's what I know is happening this spring - please add additional information via the comment box!

Northeast Passage has an Introductory Clinic indoors this Saturday, May 7, in Durham, NH. For $20 you can try out several brands and styles with individualized attention and fitting to find out what works best for you. Brands include Top End, Quickie, Hase, Greenspeed, Trailmate, and Freedom Concepts. There is a morning and an afternoon session.  Call Northeast Passage at 603-862-0070 or email to sign up. They will have a similar clinic on Cape Cad May 14 and have organized rides scheduled June 18 and 19 at Acadia National Park in Maine and June 27 on the Windham Rail Trail in New Hampshire.

Also on May 14 in the Berkshires, Bay State Bike Week will kick off with a new opportunity called Everyone Rides on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail in Cheshire, MA from 10am to 12 noon. Sponsored by several organizations including the Berkshire Bike Path Council and local disability groups, Everyone Rides will make several styles of adaptive bicycles available for use throughout the biking season by request with support from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Come on May 14 to be fitted to bikes by a therapist, participate in a group ride and find out more! Contact Dawn Matthews at 413-442-1562 x 24 or email

On May 16, the Asperger's Association of New England, (AANE) is offering at Bike Riding 101 for Parents workshop in Watertown, MA (Boston) from 7-8:30pm. The presentation will help parents break down the complex process of riding a bike into manageable steps for children with Asperger Syndrome and related disabilities. There is a $40 fee for AANE members ($50 for non-members). For more information, including partial scholarships, or to register, call 617-393-3824 or email

Coming up on Saturday June 4 is the DCR Universal Access Program Adaptive Recreation Fair at Artesani Park in Brighton (Boston), MA. Adaptive cycling is the primary recreation activity at this free annual event that runs from 10am - 3pm. Many styles of bikes will be on site and available for short test rides through the park along the Charles River. Call 617-626-1294 or 413-577-3840 to register in advance. All Out Adventures, Northeast Passage, Bike-on, and other cycling programs will be representing their bikes. This fair is a great place to find out about all kinds of recreation opportunities taking place in the greater Boston area and beyond this summer! Read about last year's event here to see what it is all about.

On June 11, from 9am - 12noon, the Sports Association of Gaylord Hospital will host a free Adaptive Cycling Clinic in Cheshire, CT - yet another opportunity to get individualized fitting to a wide selection of bikes. From 12:30 - 2:30pm, there will be Cycling Club Spring Ride along the Farmington Canal Greenway for those who already have their own bike. Bring a lunch if you are coming for both sessions. To participate you must register at 203-284-2772.

If you are shopping for an adaptive bike, check out, based in Rhode Island. Not only do they sell the widest variety of adaptive cycles internationally, they offer an on-line community with listings by state in the U.S. for people who seek handcycle and trike riding companions and connections. Check out the All Out Adventures website for other relevant bikes not available via Bike-on. Handcyclists on the west coast may also want to look into Intrepid Cycles.

Since I've covered all but one New England state so far, I'll end by mentioning the Tandem Cycling Program offered by Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. They haven't yet posted their cycling schedule. Keep an eye on their website and facebook page if you are interested. They have a variety of tandems and offer rides on bike paths in Burlington, Castleton and Stowe in the summer. (And if you think I didn't give Maine good enough coverage here, contact Maine Handicapped Skiing to learn about their adaptive cycling program in Portland.) Happy riding!