Thursday, July 31, 2014

On the world stage - what's planned for the World Parks Congress

The Health and Wellbeing stream - click on the picture to
read more about the stream
As recounted in an earlier post the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is holding their ten-yearly congress in November in Sydney. Big plans are afoot for the TrailRider.

On Thursday November 13th the Opening Plenary breaks into Panels. The Adventurers’ Panel on 13 November, will feature me (on stage, in a TrailRider) alongside Jessica Watson, Sibusiso Vilane and Lewis Pugh talking about personal exploration and achievement in face of adversity. The panel will be moderated by Paul Rose from National Geographic.

On the Friday a TrailRider will be demonstrated to the Press in a local park and then on Saturday and Sunday a park will "Pop Up" at the Congress - complete with a TrailRider and beach wheel chair.

Congress will break into eight streams and Parks Victoria (along with the US Parks Service) are organising the Health and Wellbeing stream. Conference papers will be presented in sessions and I, in a TrailRider will be chairing the Diverse Parks Diverse Communities session.

In some senses this is all familiar territory for me. As an ex-academic I have chaired sessions before - but never from a TrailRider! The exciting thing is that delegates from all over the world will see the TrailRider, perhaps for the first time, and most importantly see how TrailRiders are being incorporated into parks and making them more and more accessible.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On the main street in Daylesford

A passer-by has a try. Rodney Brooke at the back
Two posts ago I reflected on what was needed in the way of a SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) for a Shire based TrailRider.

On Saturday morning, in the midst of the shopping rush, Fiona Porter and Karen McAloon set up a table with leaflets and posters hailing the Daylesford TrailRider, and a sign-up sheet. 

Their goal was to gather expressions of interest from potential, local volunteers. They would enrol in the Hepburn Health volunteer program and learn to be sherpas.

Another shopper/sherpa. The table and a bit of Fiona
Porter at the side
My two ex-colleagues, Glenn Stevens and Phil Smith (Dr Phil!) from Ballarat Uni came up and together with Rodney Brooke we cruised Vincent Street amongst the shoppers. 

Those that got interested would have a go and see how easy it can be on a smooth path and up and down a kerb or two.

Trying, more or less always led to signing the sheet and then there were some who simply signed. A fruitful start to the Daylesford SVP.

Ballarat definitely comes next.

Thanks to Glenn for the photos, which explains his absence from them and I think Phil is lurking in the second photo.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

More thoughts about La Joëlette

La Joelette high in the Alps
I have to confess she's been on my mind since my recent post and that interest has been heightened since getting a price. At current exchange rates one would cost about $4200  which would probably be around $5000 in Australia. That's cheaper, but not dramatically so, than the $7000 for a TrailRider. 

How do they compare? The test really, as I and the comments agreed, would be a side-by-side test. Either Australia or Canada imports a Joelette or France imports a TrailRider. I tried interesting Ferriol Marat in a stand at the ten-yearly World Parks Congress but their focus, and budget, is focussed on Europe at the moment.

To look at them side by side the main impression is of the higher seating position in the Joëlette which, from their point of view, promotes conviviality between rider and sherpas and for me speaks of a harder transfer from a wheelchair along with more balancing effort from the sherpas. Needs to be tested.

The Joëlette has suspension, a plus and the larger diameter wheel will make certain obstacles easier. The fatter tyre on the TrailRider simply is the suspension. Which is more comfortable? Needs to be tested.

The longer, larger TrailRider has more leverage opportunities for a sherpa team but means it sometimes has an awkwardly large turning circle.

My back of the envelope comparison suggests that the Joëlette might be a cheaper, better solution for places with easier trails but really the jury is out. If I had $5000 to spare I would buy one - just to find out.

If you are a Facie, here is another chance to Like the Joëlette page:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SVP (Sherpa Volunteer Program) in Daylesford?

It is well understood now that getting a TrailRider chair is just the beginning. Many potential riders will be intimidated by the chair and the prospect of organising sherpas to guide them.

Hepburn Health TrailRider committee meeting to plan a
 sherpa volunteer program - Fiona, Karen, Merle and Julie
Apologies to the two that were left out at the sides!
The key to this is to tap the immense goodwill of people who love the bush and, even more, love the idea of sharing that with those who are unable to get out there.

Anything involving volunteers needs a basic level of "nuts and bolts" type organisation - police checks, liability, basic volunteer ethics - to name a few and many organisations, including Parks Victoria, have this in place already. This was the background to the Halls Gap SVP launch.

The "Shire Chairs" that are not in Parks can take the same approach. Today a meeting of the Hepburn Health Services TrailRider committee set in place plans for a SVP built upon the existing volunteer program. Of course there will be sherpa-specific training coming up but this Saturday morning we will take to the busy main street, riding the TrailRider and gathering expressions of interest from potential volunteers. Watch this space!

Ballarat and Canberra are in our sights as the next two locations.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What is the French for TrailRider? La Joëlette

La Jolette as seen in Brittany
A dear friend is travelling in France and came across this in a in a tourist office in Redon, Brittany. 

Checkout the Ferriol-Matrat website to find out more - translate the page as needed.

 How much do they cost? I've asked them.

How does this compare with the TrailRider? Hard to tell from the photos but we should stage a side-by-side comparison shouldn't we?

Thank you Geraldine.
If you are a Facie, Like the Joëlette page:
La Jolette on the Ferriol-Matrat website