Making a difference in the community: The Adaptive Cycling Group

By Scoop Skupien

“I’m gonna run you over!” Savannah warned me.

She said that more than once, although she did so with a giant smile on her face. Maybe her excitement was because she was cranking a downhill, or maybe it was the thrill of riding her bike with friends in a park next to a river on a sunny day, but no matter how pumped she was, I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to run me over.

After all, I could see that her mother had a firm grip on her bike’s guide bar. I just kept on cheering for her and the rest of the kids who might have been riding a bike in a park for the first time in their lives.

It was a really cool thing to see. But I wasn’t the only one cheering. There was a lot of hooting and hollering. Which is what riding bikes is all about, right?

What is the Adaptive Cycling Group?
“My vision for this program is to give children and families an organized group that is fun, inclusive, and social – and most importantly, helps get everyone outdoors together on bikes,” said Jason Mehler, the program’s founder.

“We’re blessed with a wonderful cycling community in the Asheville area and I feel like this group broadens that community,” said Mehler. “Riding a bike is the greatest feeling in the world. And sharing that with people with disabilities is a wonderful thing to experience.”

And let’s not forget the key to it all: The helmet.

On hand to ensure safety, Vickie Killough of SafeKids was there to make sure every rider had a helmet. As a kid from the 70s who only saw people wear helmets after an injury, it was inspiring to see Safe Kids’ proactive commitment to safety.

“When I was a kid,” I said to Vickie, “you only wore a helmet after something bad happened, not before.”

She laughed and agreed.

Beyond helmets: Maintenance
My favorite moment was when a mother showed up and was apologetic for being late. Her daughter’s bike was in need of repair, but her mom thought she showed up too late for that kind of thing. Meanwhile, her daughter wanted to join the group of riders spinning around the park.

Luckily, Asheville Street and Dirt’s own mechanic-extraordinaire Gabe Bradly was on the scene. He had her bike up and running in no time.

Sound like fun? The Adaptive Cycling Group meets at the east end of Carrier Park (near the dog park) for the next three Sundays from 2:00 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Whether you’re a child, parent, or volunteer, we hope to see you there. And don't worry, no one is going to run you over!