Ian is a lover of the outdoors. He likes to spend as much time outside as possible enjoying nature, bird watching and experiencing the seasons change all around him. Ian’s life drastically changed in 2008 when he was in a bicycle crash that resulted in a spinal cord injury. At 26, Ian found himself paralyzed from the neck down and completely lost.
“I loved to be outside and to ride my bike everywhere,” said Ian. “One day I was riding my bike home from campus and got going pretty fast down a big hill. I didn’t realize there was sand on the path and I lost control of my bike. I went head first into a tree.”
Ian described the first year after his injury as a very dark time. “I was on a ventilator for the first year following my accident,” said Ian. “I had been such an extrovert before my accident and I found myself, at 26, with all of these plans and dreams, losing my body and having to think about what I wanted to do now and where I wanted my life to go.”
In the year following his accident, Ian was determined to redefine himself. “I realized that I needed to get back to what I was doing before my accident and enjoy the things I loved once again,” said Ian. “It had to be done in a different way but I needed to get back out there.”
Ian had moved from California, where he was attending school, back home with his parents in Washington after his accident. “There are so many beautiful trails and scenic areas in Washington. The Olympic Discovery Trail was right near my parent’s house, so I started going for a ride down that trail every day,” said Ian. “Being outside helped me get out of my funk and I enjoyed watching the birds migrating and the seasons changing.”
A reliable cell phone and friends and family close by allows Ian to ride an average of 12 miles a day. “Last year I put 4,700 miles on my chair,” said Ian. “I rode through lots of rain and snow but rode 668 consecutive days on the trail.”
In 2016, Ian decided to raise the stakes and began planning a ride across the state of Washington. Ian’s Ride, a non-profit, was founded that same year. “I was starting to run out of trails and places to ride,” said Ian. “I needed a new challenge so decided to ride 340 miles across Washington. It was awesome. We stopped at breweries every night and grannies waved at me from their porches as I passed. It was a great way to re-love my love of cycling.”
Ian’s Ride has allowed Ian to help educate others on outdoor accessibility, and he has talked with the governor about the trails in Washington and how to make them more accessible.
This year, Ian decided to challenge himself once again and embarked on a 13 day, 500 mile ride from Idaho back to his home in Washington. “I used my primary chair and had a back-up chair for the ride, just in case,” said Ian. “The worst part was coming down from the cascades, which was 40 miles downhill. It took all day and we only had a narrow shoulder to ride on. It was so cold I had to stop and sit in my van to warm up.” Ian added, “Because I use a sip and puff to drive my chair, it was even more of a challenge to make it down the cascades that day. In order to slow my chair I need to use a long, slow breath. Well a quick low breath happens to be the left action so I was trying to hold back 600 pounds, between myself and my chair, from losing control going down the mountain while swerving into the traffic on my left. It was a long day.”
The highlight of his ride? “The day after the cascades was my favorite. The worst was behind us and it was flat and quiet,” said Ian. “The roads were pretty empty that day so I could ride side-by-side with my team and friends and just laugh and talk about the horrors from the day before.”
While Ian enjoys pushing himself to ride further and longer, he wanted others to find what they enjoy and peruse that, whatever it may be. “My chair has allowed me to pursue the interests I had before I was injured. The service technicians at Numotion are always there to help me too. I have their cell phone numbers and we are friends on Facebook,” said Ian. “Bottom line – Get outside and go chase what you love. Don’t let your limitations define what you do.”