Friday, November 29, 2013

Stare me down!

I just love the stares I get from people. I mean, I don't really, but I think that now they're staring more because of the chair and I like that.

Today (on Black Friday of course), we went to the famous Rice's Market to do some crazed shopping. It is an outdoor flea market with some paved roads with big cracks and other areas with big stones. Apart from the droves of people choking the lanes, rolling over the uneven, and sometimes rocky terrain, was cake. It makes going out in the world so much easier. This chair (the Trekinetic K2) is like getting new legs.

I also love any downhill grades. This chair rolls so freely. It's fun to just let the chair go. Because of the great tracking the chair has, all I have to do is tweak the drum brake handles to slow my decent or guide the chair left or right.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I could be resentful for riding my bicycle into a car in 1986, but if you think about it, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't have a beautiful family, a nice house and many wonderful friends. Granted, life has been tough the past few years and my abilities have declined a little, but life is tough for everyone in different levels every day. You never know what someone is going thankful for what you have, no matter what!

I am thankful for my journey thus far. It has been an amazing ride and I plan on riding on for a good long time. I am thankful for my loving and caring wife. I love her so much and have loved her so these 19 years! I am thankful for my two wonderful boys who amaze me, make me smile continuously, and make me so proud. I am thankful for my wonderful parents who raised me right throughout the years and gave me such a wonderful existence. I am thankful for my extended family and that I get to see them frequently. I am thankful for Facebook and the internet being there for me to connect/reconnect with family and friends near and far. I am thankful for the beautiful, friendly, peaceful area I live in. While I grew up in Long Island and love it with all my heart, it has become over-crowded and too much to bear on a daily basis. I am thankful for the ability to make many friends and other people smile on a daily basis with my status updates and funny photos. I am thankful for all the different things that I experience on a daily basis, whether it be food, watches, beer, t-shirts, music, people, etc.

I am thankful to have found an amazing wheelchair (the Trekinetic K-2) that allows me to experience all that I used to experience when I was more mobile. It really is a joy to have and use.

Thank you all for being in my life, reading this, and have a thankful day!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Trekinetic: Reinventing the wheelchair

Here is a really good article about the birth of the Trekinetic K-2 wheelchair (and the GT-3 shown here and in the article) and how it became what it is today. The GT-3 is basically the K2, but geared for primarily city use. Because of the big wheels in the front, however, it still gives you the ability to go over just about anything. Also, the independent drum/disc brakes give you such amazing control steering/braking.

Even though this article was written in 2008, it still rings very true. You can find it here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Maybe it's my uncanny resemblance to Mark Zupan, with my long goatee and all. Maybe it's my bad-ass, unique wheelchair. Maybe it was just the EMS sales associate trying to put his only knowledge of the active handicapped individual to good use. He said, "do you play Murderball?"
I said, "no, I use this amazing chair to go for hikes in the woods. Why else would I be shopping at Eastern Mountain Sports?" Needless to say, I went there to purchase a new Murderball outfit. I like the lightweight clothing and their amazing wicking ability. :P

Seriously, though...just because someone is disabled and in some wild looking chair, don't assume what the person does with the chair. It's not like all sports car drivers cars ever see a race track, or all SUV drivers drive off-road.

I could play Murderball. I am a quadriplegic/tetraplegic, so yeah I could. And I think, however, that if Murderball came out when I was in my late teens...I'd be all over that court. Sadly, quad rugby didn't get its start until a little later. Ah well...maybe I'll get a late start.

Can't you tell the resemblance? It's uncanny!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why front wheel drive is better

"When you propel a traditional rear propelled wheelchair, you are effectively pushing only against your body weight. If you push hard enough, you might lift yourself out of the chair. That limits how effectively you can push. Trekinetic realized that doesn't quite happen with front wheel propulsion, because the reaction to pushing is resisted and supported by the backrest.

The only reason it wasn't done before, is that nobody could make a front wheel propelled 3 wheel chair run straight. Trekinetic finally solved this with their innovative rear wheel bias system. Then they found their big wheels at the front idea, had a totally unexpected ability. Namely that the chair could traverse uneven and rough (off-road) surfaces with unheard of ease. Even the power GTE model benefits from this configuration."

 While these are the words of Trekinetic, I agree with what they are saying. It really is amazing having the wheels up front. It makes such a difference with the mechanics of pushing the chair. As I've said before, using the K2 is wonderful and the wheels up front made pushing seem easier, almost effortless in certain instances. Then hopping in my old chair, pushing seemed so foreign and wrong.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Contact me to try this amazing chair!

Here is a pic of the massive rear fork. The chair is so well made...I think these things are indestructible. You can see the fork in the photo below on the three chairs.

I seriously want to take this puppy off road again. Even though I use it all over, it seems to beg for the rough...much like a sports car begging to have the throttle opened up wide.

...and while you can try these puppies out at the Science Museum of London, there are no places to try them out in the States...UNTIL NOW!
Contact me ( if you are in the NY-Philadelphia region (or wish to travel here) to try my awesome Trekinetic K2. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The James Dinn Elevator

Being a wheelchair user in school in southern California was great. Because of all of the tectonic movement, schools were separated into multiple buildings and spread out. All the lockers were outdoors (under overhangs) and this was true for both my middle school and high school. They had more of a college feel to them and with the lack of rain it was a wonderful setup.

Well, all good things must come to an end. My father's time in California drew to a close. We had everything packed up, including a car, and had it all shipped back to NY.

Back on Long Island, my high school was NOT handicapped accessible. All of my classes were moved to the first floor. Well, all except biology classes and art. Biology was in the basement. However, there was a driveway that went around behind the school to the lower level. I was DRIVEN down to those classes. Art was on the second floor. I did not have art in school. The library was also on the second floor. I never "set foot" in there. Luckily, I took private art classes at The Whedon Art Center and the Port Washington Public Library was accessible.

Also, since I was the first wheelchair user (or one of the first), they allocated money to install and elevator. This excited me. I would have my own elevator! No one else would have the need to use it and it was because of me it was being installed…therefore it was mine. It's the little things.

I was there for three years and by the time I graduated, my elevator was not installed. Construction had started, but no dice. I wasn't even contacted for the inaugural ride and I do not see a plaque in it that says "The James Dinn Elevator". Sad.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Strange things...

My father used to work for Grumman/Northrop Grumman. In the mid-eighties he was part of a top secret team to come up with a stealth fighter. He, and a bunch of others, went to California to work with another company and compete against two other companies.

He went to California in April, 1985, when I was in 7th grade. I spent that summer (in between 7th and 8th grades) out there with him and had a blast. It was that summer that I started bike riding long distances with his boss on bike paths similar to the one pictured here.

When that summer was over, I came back east to continue school. Without my father around, and being in a different school (long story to be continued later, maybe), I didn't fare so well in the new surroundings.

In January, 1986, I was pulled out of that school and I moved out to California to live there. I enrolled in middle school out there and did fabulously. In three months time I was on the honor roll. Shortly after that, I had my accident. There was a certain amount of luck being injured just south of Los Angelee because I was near one of the best rehab hospitals in the country, Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center.

Strange things happen...maybe for a reason.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Don't judge a book...

While one might assume that because the Trekinetic K2 (top right) has these bad-ass wheels and really kick-ass profile that it is strictly for off road/down-hill racing, that's not entirely true. This chair is totally rad and built for getting everywhere, but it is also built for everyday use.

This is totally a "don't judge a book by it's cover" scenario. I've definitely come across people that have said, that a newfangled recumbent mountain bike? Or, hey, I have similar wheels on my mountain bike.

Now, interestingly enough, I did get this chair primarily for its outdoor versatility, but I also did get it to replace my twenty-year-old, beat up Quickie (similar model to the yellow chair, top left). I can see that there are similarities to the specific bicycles shown here. There is a specific road bike and a specific mountain bike.

There is a difference, though, in that with wheelchairs, you use them all the time. You sit in them day in, day out; whereas with bicycles you only use them for certain time frames. I mean, yes, there are certain chairs that you might only use for certain situations. For instance, rugby/basketball chairs are too modified to use everywhere or racing chairs are only used for road races.

I must say, hopping in the K2 makes the day much more enjoyable and nothing stands in my way.

(Trek bicycles are only used as representations of all road/mountain bikes and I do not mean to show any allegiance to the brand).

Monday, November 18, 2013

I was such a little punk.

I was such a little punk.

I HAD to get up onto the bike path if it was the last thing I did. I loved that bike path more than anything (apparently).

It was a path that went from Seal Beach (where I lived at the time) all the way up to the San Gabriel mountains...a 61 mile trip, one way. At the north end of this river is the famous "Bridge to Nowhere" where people hike to and bungee off. This path/trail was part of my journey that fateful day in March, 1986. To get to this bike path, you could enter from our apartment complex parking lot. There was a step down, a sandy trough then a steep hill up to the elevated path.

However, this escapade brings us to maybe around June/July of the same year. I asked my father if he could get me up there. I wanted to check it out and I guess relive something of my pre-broken neck times just months before this day. What's a father to do? Deny his son this little harmless trip? No. What does he do? He pushes his son down the step and the front wheels of the chair drop down and get stuck in the sand. His son, with a giant cell phone tower bolted to his head, topples out of the wheelchair and bashes his metal framed head into the ground. I guess getting up onto the bike path was not meant to be.

Fast forward 27+ years: the proper chair to do such a stunt would obviously be the Trekinetic K2. It would have easily transitioned down the drop and then be easily pushed up the hill to the top of the bike path.

(photo on right © Gary Chapman)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

N.Y. Mets

So, here I was, a New Yorker in Dodger country (strange, also, that they were once a N.Y. team) during that epic year for the Mets...1986. I felt so removed from N.Y. and didn't really fit in.

Being just outside of L.A., they didn't show (or want to watch) the Mets on t.v. during the playoffs. So I'd wheel myself around in my wheelchair with a boombox on my lap, listening to the games. Then, some of the games I'd catch if I got a weekend pass. I know I saw one or two of the world series games on t.v. at a party.

It seemed fitting that my father sent me a video today referencing those Mets. It was of Connie, the owner of Finn MacCool's in Port Washington, recapping his experiences with those Mets of 1986. Port was the home to quite a few of the Mets because of the easy ride in on the train. Darryl Strawberry, just lived down the block from my house.

This is one of the reasons I love Finn's so much.

Here is that video. Enjoy!

Friday, November 15, 2013


I have the best friends in the world. There, I said it. Sure, I have over "1,000" friends on Facebook, but seriously, they are awesome.

Some of these friends go to the next level, however. This is the story of one particular friend...

When deciding upon the Trekinetic, I realized I'd have to pay $800 for shipping. Mike, of Trekinetic fame, (seen standing with my chair) suggested flying over to pick up the chair or if I knew someone who would be in the London area around the end of June/beginning of July, I could have them retrieve the chair.

I haven't flown in like forever, and if I did fly there, what would I do with my old chair (which I'd have to travel with...). Not to mention the expenses of travel, room and board. I decided to not fly to London and retrieve my chair.

The other opportunity was to call in a major favor. My friend, Sarah, was going to Ireland and England during that time because her daughter was competing in the world championship Irish step dancing competition. I asked, no, pleaded on my knees to see if she would go out of her way and stop by the company and gather my new wheelchair and brelly (umbrella for people on this side of the pond). She originally said no, her itinerary was already booked solid. I bribed her with some decent IPAs and she eventually said yes. Actually she almost had to plead with me because i didn't want to put her out...she is the best.

While in London, she hired a car and went to the shop/factory. She met the one and only, Mike Spindle, creator of the wonder-beast! She then forced her daughter to wheel herself through the airport so that the chair would be put in the airplane's hold for free instead of me paying a shipping fee. Although, because the chair is so AWESOME, Hannah had a blast! Everyone kept asking Sarah and Hannah about the chair and thought it was so cool, from security to other passengers, to the customs people, even!
And they wheeled it empty most of the time (through the airport) and people wondered where the person for it was!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ooh baby, it's magic!

Now, as an able-bodied individual, you might think...what's all the it just has knobby tires and they're in front instead of the back. Big whoop!

I'll tell ya, it is a big whoop. This summer at Surprise Lake Camp, I found everything to be so much easier. It really set my mind at ease. Dirt roads are the main paths everywhere and this year my older son was on the other side of the lake. Previously, I would walk places with a cane or a big stick. But really would time my walking so I wouldn't really need to move that much. I would also try to bum rides from the few people who drove around in the golf carts. Needless to say, I would rarely get to the other side of the lake if I didn't have this chair.

It is almost magical. I kid...there's no magic involved, but it is a really cool chair. Having those big knobby tires up front really keep this thing moving. Down hills, across fields and rooty/rocky terrain and through the woods to grandmother's house we go... Also, with the wheels being further in front, there is a lot longer that your hands can be pushing. This helps a lot when pushing up hill. I was amazed at the difference it made.

There is also an issue that you run into when using normal/standard wheelchairs of tipping over while going up hill. You have to lean forward and you're always fighting to keep from tipping. Not having to worry about tipping is huge. While you do adjust the angle of the seat to be more upright, it doesn't change your purchase on the wheels and it actually makes going up hill easier.

This here's a photo of Heidi in Western Australia. I can't tell if she's taunting the water or has just wheeled herself across this stream...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tennis, anyone?

In my teenage years, I found a love for tennis. I found a tennis pro in Oceanside, N.Y. who taught others in wheelchairs and went for lessons. I also used my time in gym class to focus on tennis skills.
It was neat to not have to do any of the normal stuff in gym (well, in a chair, one couldn't really do all the normal stuff). I actually looked forward to gym.

Tennis in a wheelchair is great. It is one of the few sports you can play against able-bodied people. As a quad (quadriplegic), I am allowed two bounces to return the ball, other than that, all the other rules are the same.

With all of these lessons and practice, I became quite good (imagine that!). What was I to do with all this skill? Well, it turns out that there were quite a few tennis tourneys around locally and nationally. I entered and traveled to different places around the US for tournaments. I played in Flushing, NY, at the US Open site which was really cool. I even met Ed Koch there one year. I also played in a tournament near New Haven, CT, which is where I was first given the nick-name "Walking-Talking Quad". Another multi-day tournament brought me out to the west coast to Costa Mesa, CA.

Pictured here, I am in my first chair (prior to the yellow rigid chair I still have now and just recently replaced with the K2). It was a sporty fold up style chair. I had a metal bar added to the push handles in back to give it some rigidity. It did not however come with enough batteries to power these pants which appear to be brighter than the tennis ball!

Song to accompany today's blog post:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Let it snow, let it snow!

I'll tell you this...I am a snow bunny. I love snow. I love how it makes everything look the same. You can have a crappy looking yard with stuff strewn everywhere, but with a blanket of snow it'll look just like your neighbor's well-manicured, insanely-green-all-winter lawn.

There have definitely been some instances where I feel like I haven't been able to participate because of the snow on the ground. I can't wait to get in my chair and go places and do things this winter! Just having the peace of mind and just being able to do will make everything all the much better!

Over the years using the old style wheelchair, I have definitely just become used to the face that there are just certain things I couldn't do. Whether this be going out in the snow, going for hikes, watching soccer/lacrosse games on the field, I would just pass and hear about the games second hand.

Now, with the Trekinetic K2, I don't have to be left out or stay behind. I have a chair that is like a mountain bike. But I also have a chair that can be used all the time, kind of like a pair of multi-use sneakers. Yes, I can use them on the trail, but hey, I can also use them in the office or at a mall.


Check out this lady trying out her new Trekinetic in the snow!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How it got started...

An overview of Trekinetic...

Trekinetic All Terrain Limited was originally a state of the art engineering company (under a different name) that specialized in the manufacture of components for the Motor Racing and Formula 1 industries. Some of the worlds most iconic road and track vehicles, were originally built on components manufactured in their factory.

Back in 2000, they decided that there must be a way to get this cutting edge technology before a wider audience. But which was the product that could best benefit from such advanced technology?
By chance, they stumbled upon the everyday wheelchair. Alarmingly, it was still based upon an antiquated metal tube chassis design. This technique had been abandoned by most automobile manufacturers in the 1950's, when they switched to unitary construction. Yet wheelchair manufacturers were still employing it. Why hadn’t they moved on?

Six years, 14 running prototypes and thousands of modifications later, the now definitive Trekinetic 3 wheel, manually propelled K-2 was unleashed upon the world in 2006. It was not entirely ready and not everybody was convinced. However, many wanted to know more and within 2 weeks the fledgling Trekinetic website had rocketed from zero to over 13,000 hits. Plus they had their first few orders.

Nowadays, you would be surprised to know, how many people rely on the K-2 for daily transport. From the remotest corners of the globe, to the most exclusive city streets, all their customers share the same open minded approach to life. And with their Trekinetic they are going to get as much out of it as possible.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Brake time.

Well, not a day goes by that I regret getting the Trekinetic K2.

I set out today to hang out in a field and do some fishing at a small lake. I went early and scoped out the land. If I had come here with my old chair, it would've been a hassle to wheelie all the way across the field and to the lakeside.

I had no trouble what-so-ever. I was able to manage the uneven terrain without a lick of trouble. It is such a nice feeling to know that the terrain I encounter in this behemoth will NOT stand in my way!

One of the parts of the chair that I think is awesome is the way the brakes work and got to use them quite a bit today. Zipping down the hill is so much fun. Having the brake handles right on the inside of the wheels make them easy to grab, but they're just enough out of the way you don't get your hands caught on the handles when pushing. This makes flying down a hill better because you can ease on the brakes and slow your decent. Then, when I got to the lakeside, I engaged the brakes so I could fish and not have to worry about readjusting the wheels or worrying about rolling into the water.

These are not your normal disc brakes that you see on mountain bikes or some other wheelchairs. The way they're set up is that if you pull on the lever, the brake pads expand and press on the inside of the wheel hub. They're internal so they're kind of protected from the elements. Also, when you push the levers all the way forward they engage a parking brake mode. Ingenious!

Stop by tomorrow to see what I write. ;)

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm going back to rehab...

Writer bio time
Part II:

Shortly after the second surgery, I was relocated to a rehabilitation hospital in East LA on Cinqo de Mayo. At this hospital in 1955, Dr. Vernon L. Nickel developed the halo vest, a device which is still in use to immobilize the cervical spine following severe neck injury or certain types of surgery.

It was here that I was given an honorary membership in the Blood gang. Being one of the older residents in a pediatric ward of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, I would wheel myself over to newly brought in patients and ask them why they were here. Oh, I have GSWs to the chest. Nice! Another patient had fallen out of a pickup truck crossing the border and was run over by the border patrol. Some fun times.

It was here that I was able to take apart a car engine and put it back together as part of my occupational therapy. I also relearned to walk here. Also, upon discharging a fire extinguisher for fun, I found out that it is a white powdery substance that went everywhere! I had many experiences here, but one of the most fun parts was sneaking into one of the many abandoned wings of the hospital and wheeling around where all the people were kept in their iron lungs.

I was in this hospital from May 5th to November 17th. Over the July 4th weekend, I stood up for the first time and then they made me stand for long periods of time. I did NOT enjoy them. I would stand strapped into a standing table sweating like crazy wearing a sheepskin vest. Needless to say I walked out of the hospital wearing these sexy beasts.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bio: Part I

Writer bio time:
Well, some of you know me, and some of you do not.

My foray into the world of disability happened on March 26, 1986. At 13, I was an avid bicycle rider in sunny Southern California. I would ride with my buddy, Bernie Yudin, every weekend up and down the coastal bike paths easily doing 30 miles at a clip. This particular fateful Wednesday, I went out on my own. I rode 20 miles and was coming home to where I lived in Seal Beach. I was looking to get my bike registered, as any teenager did (or was told to do) in the 80s to "thwart" theft. Coming out of the fire station (who said they registered bicycles on Saturdays), I hopped on my bike and headed home. I came out from between two parked cars and WHAMMO! I didn't see the VW Golf and ran right into it. The good thing is, I broke her windshield and sunroof. My body, however, was not so lucky.

I blacked out, thankfully, and came to looking up at the bright blue California sky. My whole body felt like I had cement burn everywhere, since I had broken my neck and had no feeling below my shoulders. Luckily, the accident happened right next to the fire department I didn't have long to wait for an ambulance. I was rushed to Los Alamitos Medical Center which is just up the road from Seal Beach.

I went in for surgery almost right away. The surgeon deftly removed my crushed fifth vertebrae to help reduce the swelling. I didn't sever my spinal cord, which in spinal injury terms means I am a C-5 incomplete quadriplegic. If I had severed my spinal cord, I'd be a complete quadriplegic. After the surgery, the doctors/nurses cleaned me up but there was still blood on the table. When I landed on the ground, I had almost torn off my left ear and they had missed that. So now my left ear is a little closer to my head than my right.

Normally, well in 1986, they would do the surgery in two steps. First, remove the shattered bone(s), then a few days later fuse the neck with excess bone from the pelvis. In my case, however, I spiked a fever shortly after and had some pretty awesome hallucinations. They postponed the surgery multiple times and I eventually had the second surgery on April 26. In the meantime, I had this sweet, fancy
metal headpiece bolted to my skull that could pick up alien transmissions.

I did receive many many get well cards and plastered my hospital room's walls. There was barely any open space left. One of my friends sent me tapes of Bill Cosby and George Carlin. I played those tapes endlessly. I also watched hours and hours of tv. I jumped from Happy Days to I Dream of Jeannie to Bewitched. I also dreamed of getting back onto a bike. I had my parents get me a Nishiki bicycle catalog and I had my bike all picked out. I guess it didn't really sink in that I wasn't walking anytime soon.

Stop back later for more ;)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

This one's just like the Reliant Robin...

Not to be exclusive of other options, I stumbled upon this little nugget. It's the FreeWheel attachment that mounts onto your footrest of your wheelchair. I had no idea this thing existed until after I got my Trekinetic K2. I saw an individual using one and thought, "wow, that's kinda neat but, um, yeah no."

It is kind of neat. It's an add-on so, you'd have to have it with you if you had plans to be out in the wild. And you have to attach it, so I'm guessing you'd have to do it when you're not in the chair. So I guess, if you have a chair already and hey, you want to go a little off
the beaten path, this is an option. However, you don't have beefy back wheels and you still have the littler wheels that could get caught on stuff. ...and you're not as stable in the front when turning as Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear demonstrates here.

What's your take on this add-on?

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Part VI - Dynamics

Soon after tooling around in the K2 for a while, I hopped in my old chair to shoot some hoops with one of my boys. It felt so weird. Not having any wheels behind me felt a little disconcerting. Don't get me wrong, I am a whiz at wheelies, but it felt odd.

Another strange feeling was where the wheels were. The wheel placement on the K2 is far forward.
When you push on the wheels, they're basically in front of the weight so in actuality, you're pulling the weight. Plus you get much more purchase on the wheels. On my old chair, while the wheels are more forward than normal (to make it
a more sportier chair), they are almost directly under the weight and being further back you can't get the same effectiveness when pushing. And that's more of what you're're pushing.

Either they put a lot of thought about the dynamics of pushing/pulling the weight with the way this chair is set up or it was pure accident. To me, it doesn't matter much what they did, because it just works. The chair is comfortable and easy to move.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Part V: It fits!

It fits!

The wheels pop off (well, not at random), the rear wheel assembly collapses and the foot rest retracts. Easy-peasy. This is how it fits in the boot of my Hyundai Veloster. Boot, for those that may not know, is what the Brits refer to as trunk/back compartment of a car. Since I am putting a British wheelchair in it, I must now refer to it properly.

Not that I was worried if it would fit or not, Mike from Trekinetic was able to give me dimensions of the chair in collapsed form.

Once I got up to camp to see my family, I got the chair out, set the back wheel and popped the big wheels on and off I went. My first journey was mostly downhill. What a joy that was. I didn't have to touch the wheels at all. I just kept my fingers on the brake levers and pulled on them gently to keep my speed slow. While it can handle greater speeds, I didn't want to get road rash on my face, especially on my first trip.

This chair is smooth. It was so comfy. I didn't have to ride anywhere in a wheelie. And NOTHING stood in my way.

I was really happy to have the push handle in back. Some of the hills were too steep to handle, so I get up out of the chair and use the chair as a sort of walker as I get it and myself up the hill (or bat my eyes at some cute passers-by). Yes, I can walk, but as the years have progressed, the legs ain't what they used to be. ...and I have been referred to a few times as the "walking-talking quad" (back when I played wheelchair tennis).

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Part IV - The Waiting and Arrvial

Now it was the waiting time. Summer was approaching and I wasn't going to have the K2 until July 7th. I was curious to see how I'd manage the terrain of Surprise Lake Camp with my old chair.

Well, the time came and it was a little treacherous. I knew I'd have to pop a wheelie while going downhill. It was tough. Plus, the old chair has rubber coating on the push-rims because at the time I got the chair, I had lesser hand strength. Burning the skin off my hands was not fun! I also realized, that due to the rocks on the road, I had to ride most of the time in a wheelie. It was difficult. The K2 couldn't come fast enough! I was able to manage for those few weekends, but I knew I'd have a chair in a few weeks that would open up the roads!

I was excited when my friend Sarah departed for the Emerald Isle. It meant that she was coming home with a special gift! I could hardly contain myself. I was very excited. I left camp early on Sunday afternoon to drive to her house.

Seeing it in the back of her car was awesome! She has an SUV so she was able to have it in back fully assembled. In this photo the wheels are at the narrowest setting. The black (with silver in the middle) axle is how you adjust the angle of the wheels. The way the wheels are here is called the "lean" setting. Twisting the axle changes the wheel angle. I immediately twisted the axle to change the wheels to the "mean" setting before taking the chair out.

Then, it was time to take it out for its inaugural spin! I hopped in, easily adjusted the back angle (there's a little lever in back that you depress), and started pushing myself around. While the wheels have push-rims, it is way easier and more effective to grab the wheels and push. I played around with the brakes which definitely took a little getting used to. The chair spins pretty easily as I realized when I pulled to much on one brake. But wow, what a sweet chair! The back wheel, while it is on a caster stays straight mostly. It has a setting so that when your traveling, it stays "locked" in because most of the time you want to go straight. This also is beneficial when you're zipping down a hill. You don't want a wheel behind you going all could cause you to spill. When you need to turn, however, it pops out of that setting and swivels.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Part III: All about the chair

So, let me describe to you what was so great about this chair. First off, it has the push wheels in front.
Ok, it has tiny little wheels in front of that, but they rarely touch the ground, and if you were to bump into an obstacle, they retract. Any way...with the big main wheels up front, nothing stands in your way. Well, except maybe walls. It also has independent disc brakes as an option. That tooled lever on the inside of the wheel (just in front of my hand) has a little nub next to my leg (and there's another one on the other side) is the brake handle. Pulling on those together, give you adjustable braking power. If you push these handles all the way forward so they are parallel to the ground, they engage the parking brake. These are great so you don't rip apart your hands as you try to slow yourself down. In back, is the third largish wheel attached to an adjustable lever and a variable length, lockable shock absorber to give you some extra cushioning and to change your reclinability. If you're traveling on a straightaway or going downhill, it's best to have the seat reclined all the way. For pushing up hill, it's best to have someone push you, err, to have the seat in its upright position. For portability, the big wheels pop off, and the rear wheel assembly collapses against the seat and the footrest retracts. One other easy adjustment is the wheels can be adjusted to angle way out to give you a lot more stability / \ or narrow | | for going through tight squeezes or office spaces.

I contacted Mike at Trekinetic and he was such wonderful help. He answered all of my questions. It was such a joy to chat with an individual who really understands the chair, and he should considering he sells them. He suggested the rear handlebars. These are a great option for people helping you up a hill or actually in my case, it made it easy to push the chair up some of the really steep hills at camp. I was close to ordering, however, I found out that the chairs take 10-12 weeks for building. As the summer was rapidly approaching, I felt that maybe I should settle for a lesser chair that I could get in 4-6 weeks. Then I realized, it wasn't just this summer I was getting the chair for, it was for many years to come!

The next hurdle was the $800 shipping fee. It was a hard number to swallow after everything else. Mike suggested flying over and bringing it back on the plane (as a chair) or having a friend bring it back. I didn't think buying a plane ticket and flying over to London just to bring back the chair was economical. Then *lightbulb* I realized my good friend Sarah was going to be in London when the chair was ready. She and her daughter, who was in Ireland for the World Championships for Irish Step Dancing, were heading over to London for a few days before hopping back across the pond. They agreed to bring it back for me. Winning!

Come back tomorrow for more!

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Part II...Decision time

Part II
Price then came into play, a little bit, since I was paying for this out-of-pocket. One of the two chairs made in the US was in the mid 2Ks, the other 5K...the Trekinetic is 7K+. Seeing that high price, I was a little turned off and continued my research.

Invacare Top End CrossfireI was now leaning more towards the lower end of the spectrum. This chair, the Invacare Top End Crossfire was the most innocuous of the three chairs. It looked most like a regular sports wheelchair. It had knobby back wheels and bigger than normal front wheels. These front wheels, however, seemed smaller than necessary when handling wild(er) terrains. Also, one other "fault" was that it didn't have a braking system.

Lasher Sport BT-ATBWhile these "faults" were somewhat big in the grand scheme of things, I started to shy away from this chair. Looking at the other chair, the Lasher Sport BT-ATB (ATB for All-Terrain Beast), I dug that it had a braking system. It also had much bigger wheels in the front. This is a big plus, because with my old chair and also the Crossfire you would have to pop a wheelie to manage roots or rocks. If you were to encounter these in those chairs, your chair's forward momentum would cease and you would be ejected from your chair. But then looking at the chair as a whole, those larger front wheels add almost a foot past where your legs are. For a dual purpose chair, this would limit its use in a day-to-day setting (working in an
office, shopping, etc.).

With the other two chairs not so great in my mind for what I was looking for, I was leaning toward the Trekinetic. Since the Trekinetic is not available for sale in the US, I realized I had to step up the game on research. I found that there was a Trekinetic user from South Africa who was blogging about her experiences with her chair (her blog is here). We chatted back and forth via her blog and she answered a lot of questions I had had about the day-to-day use. She made the comment that while the chair does cost quite a bit, it's a versatile chair that can handle just about anything you throw at it and will be an investment worth making.

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