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Mountain Biking

This Guy Was Paralysed After An Accident On A Trail – Now He’s Riding 300 Miles To Make Them Wheelchair Friendly

Ian Mackay's campaign is seriously inspiring....

Eight years ago, Ian Mackay was on a normal bike ride back from class, when his life changed forever.

Cycling back from a class at the University of California, he wiped out on a trail and hit a tree. Suffering a spinal chord injury, he broke his neck, instantly paralysing himself from the neck down.

Now, Mackay is travelling 300 miles by wheelchair on an 11-day journey that began in Victoria, British Columbia, and will carry him to Portland, Oregon, to raise awareness about the need to create accessible countryside trails.

“The first year was brutal,” says Mackay.

“I spoke little because I was uncomfortable with the speaking valve required to talk with a ventilator. I watched way too much TV and was basically mopey.”

As his injuries became more manageable however, Mackay’s love of the outdoors and exploring returned and he began to focus on getting back outside, but found that the trails he once spent all his time in, were no longer accessible to him in his wheelchair.

“I thought being able to get out and explore nature was over when I became quadriplegic,” says Mackay.

“But once I could move on my own and regained some independence, I began exploring some of the bike paths and nature trails around my house.”

“I’ll often have to jump on the highway where I live — which I don’t recommend for anyone else to do — and I have to ride on the side of the freeway and try to make sure I don’t drift into traffic,” says Mackay.

“Highways aren’t designed for wheelchairs to be on.”

Teaming up with Washington Bikes, Ian’s ride has the simple aim to go for a long ride, visit some nice breweries and do some good along the way.

“I think improving these trails so that everyone can use them is mutually beneficial for society,” says Mackay.

“Beyond encouraging more people to cycle and getting traffic off the road, I think it’s just psychologically better for people to be able get somewhere completely on their own.”

Mackay is currently 6 days into his ride, you can support his cause here. 

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