100 miles, 24 hours or less, 5 paracyclists, 1 support vehicle
and a 0.1% chance of floods
Either we are the paradoxical underdogs of the millennium or we are better off scratching lotto tickets than advocating for ability inclusion in the cycling industry. Every once in a thousand years, Moab -- one of today's mountain bike meccas -- is flooded so badly, the infamous 100-mile 'road' in Canyonlands National Park is deemed impassable. But luckily for us, the trailblazing adventure ahead is lead with an adaptive mindset, ready for anything, especially the opportunity for puns: is the White Rim Trail impassible or impossible?
If it's impossible, I know how to handle that.
My name is Josie Fouts, and as congenital amputee born with only my right hand, I have lived an 'impossible' life being continuously told I cannot do what others can do with two hands, and yet persistently prove that indeed I can accomplish more than possible when I focus on the abilities and body parts I do have!
Photo of Sean T Randolph by: Matt Didisheim for the National Ability Center
If it's impassible, I know I'm prepared for that too. Being an advocate for accessibility in the outdoor industry, I am living proof that when we first prioritize those who have the greatest needs, we create a path anyone can follow! For example, imagine a building that has valuable resources inside (like shelter or warmth) but a snow storm buried the entrance. To allow the majority of people access the resources inside, should we first shovel the stairs, or should we first shovel the ramp? Opting for the latter seems more unlikely with an ablest lens, but really it's more accessible or... handy. Plus it is physically less work (ie: only shoveling the ramp so everyone can enter VS shoveling the stairs and then the ramp).
As an adaptive athlete of color, I see a lot more sustainable solutions in today's issues -- social inequality, climate change, business lulls -- and thus, bring a unique perspective to our perception of life. Everything requires balance so the other end of the spectrum I'm blinded from is being paralyzed by the unknown. Growing up in a country half way across the world from where my genetics are known to thrive, you could say I was born for adventuring into the unknown!
I know unknown like the back of my hand.
Obviously there is no handbook or straightforward path to life, especially advocacy work, so how do I learn how to overcome unknown barriers in the unpredictable future? My answer (and life's purpose) can be summed up in two meticulous words: MOUNTAIN PARACYCLING. Riding on rugged terrain means shifting my usual "point out every rock" roadie mindset otherwise I'll get nowhere fast. If the rock is physically outside of my clearance needs, it's not worth my energy. Instead I'll only overcome the boulders (or barriers) that are worth my time and effort getting over or around. Off the bike, this mindset still benefits me while I pick and choose my battles.
That is why I am trailblazing to single-handedly save the world with mountain paracycling!
Tread Setters is a film project that highlights 5 paracyclists riding the White Rim Trail while balancing the mental, emotional and social aspects of advocacy. To relate to a larger audience, a bit of copy-and-pasting needed to occur so we promoted it as a para-FKT. Before the filming, no Fastest Known Time (or FKT) database distinguished a Paracycling category. We changed that (see cyclingFKT.com)! To our knowledge, we are not the first paracyclists to complete the route, yet none of these other successful trips have been officially recognized by the gatekeepers to records. That's not equality and it's even further from equity. So this is sort of the 'First Known Time' (for the majority of the human population aka non-para) and the first means it is automatically the fastest.
More importantly, Tread Setters is launching paracyclists into the mountain bike scene with an accurate image. Accuracy is critical in advocacy so others following along are metaphysically connected with the movement, especially the adaptive community who needs the gritty details to replicate the process. If you are looking to either get into mountain biking, or help an adaptive athlete, below is an extensive objective list with subjective comments.
Enjoy you gear heads.