Reaching out: Former CW columnist seeking disabled rider’s resource

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Like a lot of lifetime riders who nearly buy the farm while riding or racing, and who emerge from hospitals and rehab centers disabled in some physical way, as soon as I was fit enough to figure out how to climb aboard something with handlebars, I wanted to do it. In my case, the best fit for my disability so far has been the Can-Am Spyder, and I'm currently doing a long-term test of the 2010 RT-S for CW.

Turns out, to nobody’s surprise, the Spyder is a conversation starter. Every time I stop long enough to take off my helmet, and sometimes even when I just stop for gas, somebody comes up and wants to ask questions about the thing. Seems like about half of the people who do that are folks (men and women, young and old) who need a ride to deal with a disability of some kind—failing knees, diabetes, amputation (and too many of that category have been fellow veterans, but guys from the Southwest Asia theater), and other ailments, including just wearing out the bod.

I know why they make a beeline to talk to a Spyder rider whose machine wears a blue disabled placard; information about what to buy or build to help is pretty scarce. The U.K. has a disabled-riders association, but it seems that here in the good ol' USA, there isn't one, or at least not one I can find for nationwide problem-solving for once and future riders. So I asked the guys in charge at One Cycle__ World Plaza: Why not start one ourselves here at CW?

It’s a touchy issue, this, because motorcyclists generally don’t like to think too deeply about the innate dangers of what we do on the street, off-road or on the racetrack. But we all know that we’re far more exposed than people in airbagged wheeled boxes. You don’t have to be a head-banger rocketbike street-racing stunter to wind up in the ER, and we all know that, or at least we should.

That's why I propose that CW dedicate a small piece of its webmaster's time and server space to a forum dedicated to disabled riders, where we can trade information about what's happened to us, and how we might have been able to get back on the bikes again, no matter how many wheels the bike might have. What I'm most interested in is contacts with people who have hardware fixes for us; the brilliant engineering from whatever source, be it back-garden tinkerer to major manufacturer that puts riders back Out There.

If the response is big enough, and the solutions serious enough, I have it on good authority that somebody in or attached to CW might do an evaluation, and that it might be a guy like me, who, despite being 62 and minus left-leg function, has been addicted to motorcycling since 1963 and still is. Dude, where's my ride?

—Steve Thompson, former CW Editor-at-Large and Editorial Director of Cycle Guide