Tuesday, December 11, 2012

No TrailRider (yet) in Tasmania

Sadly the grant application for the purchase of a chair in Mt Field park near Hobart was not successful.

Has anyone got ideas about other sources of funds?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

International Day of People with Disability

Minister Ryan Smith leads the charge
December 3rd saw events around the world - one in particular brought the Victoria State Environment Minister to Albert Park in Melbourne to make announcements and be initiated as a Sherpa.

Visit the Travability Blog to read more about this event.

Friday, November 30, 2012

All Terrain wheelchair - $200

Maybe you don't want to go up a mountain track. Maybe you just want to get to work a kilometer down a dirt road? 
This TED (Technology, Education and Design) video shows an MIT engineer describing a chair that is designed and built for the third world -  the Leveraged Freedom Chair, a cheap lever-powered wheelchair whose design and development put the user first.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TrailRider Trailwalker

The Oxfam Trailwalker challenge is billed as the world's toughest team challenge - teams of four cover 100 Km in 48 hours - through wild Victorian places.

There will be two TrailRider teams registered for the walk in April 2013. Seven of the eight registered will be sherpas and the eighth will be the rider - someone who loves the bush but is no longer well enough to get out there. Any volunteers?

Sponsorship will raise money for Oxfam and the press coverage will highlight the growing role of the TrailRider in Victoria.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What about other all-terrain chairs?

There are many all-terrain wheelchairs around and they fall into two broad categories - those that are self propelled and those that are not.

A self propelled chair will have at least three wheels and some type of mechanism to enable the rider to work the wheels with more force than a normal  chair. Some are electric and one even has tracks like a tank.

What lies behind all of these solutions is that there are multiple points of contact with the ground and therefore the probability of getting into a jam where one wheel prevents the movement of another. This is the reason that wheelbarrows have one wheel. 

The rider is "independent" - but in name only. They absolutely rely on helpers to get them unjammed.

The TrailRider is unique (as far as I know) in having a single wheeled approach to the jamming problem. The one wheel is almost impossible to jam. The very clear downside is that the rider is quite absolutely dependent on the helpers. No helpers means no riding. But that was really the case with multiple wheels.

There is also a psychological aspect to all this. The TrailRider is terrible if the rider cannot reach the mental place of trusting the sherpas. Even sitting still in one place needs the sherpas to heave the chair onto its kickstand. With multiple wheels the rider is fundamentally stable - the sherpas can wander off at almost any time.

As with most of life it's roundabouts and swings...

Friday, October 19, 2012

The true meaning of "Sherpa"

This was taken in 2007 when the TrailRider went to Everest Base Camp. The  chair being carried is Pippa Blake's. This is how she got around camp each night.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bushwalking... Bushriding

Bushwalking Victoria, who are the umbrella organisation for all the bushwalkers and their clubs in Victoria, have a new website where they give details about all the great walks in this State.

The walks are graded and categorised and now there is a new category - TrailRider..

As reviews accumulate of TrailRider use on tracks around Victoria the public can add their grading for each particular walk.

At this stage one walk has been TR graded.

Bushwalking Viictoria are also urging their members to become involved as volunteer sherpas as the President's newsletter invites.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Otways

The Otways are a particularly beautiful part of Victoria where beaches and forests blend and wilderness trails abound. Just the sort of area where a TrailRider or two would be useful.

Cumberland Falls in the Great
Otways National Park

Because this park has no Parks Victoria Visitor Centre the TrailRider would have to be housed somewhere else and this brings the idea of the community based TrailRider to the fore. Negotiations towards this are well under way.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Nerve Centre

The Nerve Centre is the MS Society headquarters in Blackburn, Melbourne. The MS Society for Victoria, NSW and the ACT is headquartered there.

An entire large modern building
devoted to MS

I was invited to present there and through teleconference, at the quarterly staff update and naturally enough the TrailRider and Wild Places figured strongly. Very significant to reaching out beyond Victoria.

Lysterfield TrailRider/Wild Places launch

Lysterfield Park in Melbourne saw the official launch of another Parks Victoria Trail Rider and the Wild Places DVD.

Brad Battin and John Kenwright
show off the chair
The event was opened by Brad Battin, State member for Gembrook.

The chair is available from the TrailMix cafe at the park.

Several exciting ideas came to the fore:

  • A volunteer sherpa program of some kind was discussed. A way that riders who did not have the right kind of family or friends could still go out there
  • The Oxfam walk - in a TrailRider in 2013. Brad even offered to push!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Welcome to the TrailRider Tales blog.

Here you will find news and discussion about the progress of the TrailRider in Australia. So far there are five in Victoria.

Not sure what a TrailRider is? Check out the "Introducing the TrailRider" page here for some background.

Happy TrailRiding!