Sunday, June 29, 2014

Three TrailRiders - BCMOS strut their stuff

Three TrailRiders take a break in Lynn Canyon.
I've been there on my legs!
BCMOS - British Columbia Mobile Opportunities Society - is the home of the TrailRider. They brought them to the world, and keep bringing them to the world. 

They are very aptly named because they keep organising adventures for Vancouver wheelies that captivate the very essence of getting out there. Bringing sherpa volunteers and some lucky riders into the fantastic wonderland that is British Columbia, or more accurately the Lower Mainland.
From the top of Black Tusk, where even a TrailRider could not
go, Garibaldi Lake looks bright turquoise with the glacial runoff

This leads to the rare opportunity, in Australia at least, to snap three chairs together in the beautiful, beside the rushing creek, Lynn Canyon.

Another outing was to Garibaldi Lake which if you've seen Wild Places was the exquisite turquoise lake that I looked down on from one of my last able-bodied hikes.

If you are a Facie, Like the BCMOS page:  

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Black Diamond

One of Wade's working drawings of the Black Diamond
The TrailRider that we know and love is actually the third model produced after Sam Sullivan had the original idea. This third design is called the Black Diamond If you look at the Kilimanjaro story you will see an earlier version.

A few months ago I heard, out of the blue, from Wade Lander who designed the Black Diamond version of the TrailRider.

He told the story:  
I first encountered the Trailrider in 1999, while at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, studying Industrial Design. A student in another year had chosen to redesign it as part of an assignment and had brought in an example for study. After looking it over, I was impressed by the concept but wasn't too impressed by the design. I distinctly remember thinking though that it would be a interesting project to redesign.

  Forward to 2004;  My interest in designing assistive devices led me to volunteering with the Tetra Society, which is one of the organizations within the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation. Through Tetra I was reacquainted with the TrailRider and its parent organization BCMOS. At this time David Ostro of the Disability Foundation was finishing off a technology grant application with the Canadian Government (IRAP) to fund a redesign of the TrailRider.
  By the spring of 2005, the grant had been approved and I signed aboard as the designer with David as project manager. As of this time, the Trailrider had already undergone two revisions with mixed results. The IRAP grant stipulated that a fairly large amount of research needed to be completed to identify the shortcomings of the existing design and to create a design brief for the new version. Something that hadn't been done with the two earlier attempts.
  The next few weeks over the summer, I spent most of my weekends conducting research. Which meant, in practice, racking up the miles as a sherpa, pushing and pulling a TrailRider up and down dozens of trails to find out what worked and what didn’t work and what people liked and disliked about the design.
  While the majority of what I was doing was of a practical nature, I got to experience first hand what the TrailRider meant to the hikers who rode in it. I participated in one hike to take a man to the beach where he injured himself almost 30 years before. We travelled along the beach at low tide below the bluffs that surround the western edge of Vancouver to the place in question. Though the beach was only a few hundred meters from the nearest road, it would have remained inaccessible without the Trailrider. This experience moved me and made me realize that the TrailRider was more just a simple product,  It had a significant impact on people lives.
  The actual design work began in earnest in September of 2005 and I teamed up with Toby Schillinger who had built the previous version of the TrailRider. The previous designs had been well made, but were seriously flawed in regards to the ergonomics of the hikers and the sherpas, so a lot of my effort focused on improving those areas. The design work went smoothly as it essentially involved coming up with a design that met all the criteria laid out in the research phase and that could be built efficiently in the small quantities required.
This could be a picture of Wade conducting action research
on the Black Diamond design - but isn't. It is the 2006 access
  The first of the new TrailRider Black Diamonds were ready in August 2006, just in time for the annual Access Challenge Hike; A three day backpacking trip to Tetrahedron Provincial Park on the Sunshine coast, just north of Vancouver. The TrailRiders almost weren't ready; I had to help out to complete them the day before by sewing the various seatbelt straps, staying up till three in the morning and then preparing for the multi day hike ahead. Other than a preproduction prototype that had been quickly whisked away to a buyer a few months before, the new design had seen almost no testing and the six that were going had been assembled only hours before. The team that I was hiking with (friends I had met through the TrailRider program) had brought almost everything they could think of with the result our TrailRider with its hiker weighed well over 300lbs. The design has a rough weight limit of 250lbs, so that fact, combined with bringing five other hikers into the mountains for three days with an untested design, was a bit stressful. The TrailRiders nonetheless performed flawlessly, and all the hikers and sherpas, though a little beat up, survived the trip.
  Since its introduction, I've been happy to see the numbers of my design and the places they've been to slowly increase; from their baptism on the coast mountains of British Columbia and now on to the continent of Australia. Of all the work I've done, the TrailRider stands out as a favorite, not only as a successful piece of industrial design but as a design that has measurably touched peoples lives.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

For old time's sake

I'm doing something I haven't done before. Recycling an old post. This appeared here in 2012 and came to mind as the origin of the word "sherpa" (of TrailRiders) was discussed in the comments on the last post.

The title was The true meaning of  "Sherpa"

If you follow the link Pippa's movie is well worth a watch.

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.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Therapeutic Recreation Journal

As an ex-academic I have developed a sneaking regard for The Academic Paper. Many thanks to Christina Bullivant at Parks NSW for drawing my attention to Hiking Excursions for Persons with Disabilities: Experiences of Interdependence

This 2009, Canadian paper looks at the actual experience of being a rider and, as the title suggests, explores the interdependence that emerges between the disabled passenger and the hard working sherpas.

I was particularly interested to read the two bits I have put in the picture here about "Not a wheelbarrow" and "Giving up control"

Both of these I know to be an issue worth discussing. The control issue almost stopped me from taking my first ever TrailRider trek in Canada. My fear was precisely this - that I would have to surrender control.

The wheelbarrow issue, especially given that my shorthand verbal picture always refers to the wheelbarrow tyre, is one that troubles some disability advocates who worry that the rider is dehumanised by becoming "baggage" in the TrailRider. The research seems to me to dispel that quite specifically because the experience of being out there outweighs any misgivings.

One page from the paper - the one that really caught my eye. Click to read the paper.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Some more media coverage

Two recent media notes are worthy of a post.

The first was an interview on ABC Local Victoria quite early on the morning of the Queen's birthday. Johnathon Ridnell and I chatted for a while. He has a nifty way with words but the audio quality is not so great
The second was in Daylesford where the Visitor Information Centre has a TrailRider. The problem is though that not enough of the local disabled community knows about it yet and also that there is not yet a pool of volunteer sherpas to enable folk to ride even when they don't have the generous crew of friends and relatives that I am blessed with.

The local Health Centre now has a committee dedicated to these issues and their first initiative is coverage in The Local - a brand new Daylesford local paper. View the page here or click on the photo. Note the phone number 0353216567 for volunteering as a sherpa.
For Facies here's a chance to like The Local's page

Monday, June 2, 2014

HPHP - Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Acronyms. You love them or hate them. I must admit they appeal to me and hence this post. 

The TrailRider story on HPHP Central - click picture to visit
In 2010, when Ros and I took her photos of the Canadian experience to show David Roberts at the Grampians, he immediately made a connection with the brand new "Healthy Parks, Healthy People" program in Parks Victoria.

Now that tagline is on every Parks uniform and it has been launched on the world stage for one of the eight streams in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature!!) To the US Parks Service, who co-host the stream, it has become HP squared.

This is a way of getting round to introducing the hphpcentral website which co-ordinates the lead up to the conference in November.

If you're a Facie here's your chance to spread the love:

Like the HPHP Central Page