by: Will Clingenpeel
Editor's Note: GRIT is proud to bring you original content written by our Trailblazers. Will grew up immersed in nature in rural Vermont. A Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis 5 years ago didn't dampen his sense of adventure or slow him down. Will continues to push his limits, even if it requires adaptive equipment. He enjoys helping others realize they never have to give up activities they love!
At the beginning of the month I received a machine that would test and inspire me, and little did I know just how much! With excitement, and a bit of help from a friend, I tore into the giant box. I carefully laid out all the parts, and with no trouble assembled the chair, which I lovingly have dubbed "The Green Machine."
My first ride was a gravel driveway, and right away I knew this thing had some power to it. I was a bit over confident and promptly did my first backflip! Humbled by this maneuver I chose a lawn with some rolling hills. Spent the better part of that afternoon practicing turning, and smooth moving. After a few hours of playing I decided to rest for the day and plot my first true outing in the Freedom Chair!
The next day was a beautiful day so I decided to check the first trail off my long list of places I wanted to visit again. I was an adept hiker and know many areas of the woods like the back of my hand! First stop: a beautiful little trail known simply as the West river Trail. It is partly an old railway that was converted into a trail for hiking. I was overjoyed to be back in the forest I love so dearly. The terrain was fairly level and forgiving. It was awesome! I went with a partner and had no trouble keeping up at a walking speed. I ended up turning this first ride into a 3 mile adventure, and was rewarded with some wild mushrooms, saw 2 red tailed haws, and was able to get a much needed dose of fresh woodland air!
After such a successful first day out on the trails, I made sure to get out every single day for the next two weeks exploring any and all places I could get into! Gravel roads dirt drives, and cobblestone walks.
The next week I did the Ball Mountain Dam, and was humbled by the speed I tried to keep and getting accustomed to pavement. In my excitement I was pushing a little to hard and overdoing it. It reminded me again of my new found mantra to Freedom Chair success: "Low and Slow." So, I again found a teammate for my next adventure to Gale Meadows. It features an old fishing pond surrounded by deep dark pines and rooted, rocky trails; all of which I was able to traverse with joy and a bit of humility.
After my time in Southern Vermont, I returned to Burlington. My first cruise through the city was a learning experience. The pitch of the sidewalks and paved areas was a challenge, but the attention I got rolling through downtown made the ride well worth it! Many people stopped me and asked about this wild contraption I was on, and that surely inspired me that this chair and I are gonna make a great team! Burlington has an amazing bike path that goes beyond the length of the city, and its been a great spot for me to pace myself and have access to several off road adventures. One of my favorite rides was on the Whiterocks Trails just north of the beach! I went with a friend and her little one and had an awesome day: another 3 mile adventure for the books!
Daily I have put at least 1.5 miles on this thing and had some great videos and picture building up, but on one of these treks my camera went MIA! Although I have to say it has paled in comparison to the fun and freedom I have been experiencing, and a new camera will come my way again!
The most recent trails I have ridden were at the Ethan Allen Homestead in North Burlington. It is a network of trails that wind along the Winooski river, through wooded and farmed areas. I have just begun to re-explore here as these trails are a winding network. I am practicing taking the 2 mile extension of the bike path to these trails, and still having the steam to do my 3 miles there!
I have to say that folks heads turn daily while I'm riding around in my "Green Machine." It is exciting to tell them about how I got it, and the great opportunities this company is creating for so many people!
This next month I am eager to make the most of the cooling weather and start a list of places to get my wheels on in the Vermont area! I plan on focusing on Central and Southern Vermont, and I'm eager to get a better routine with video maps and photographs to help folks see just how open the world can be again with the GRIT chair!
Thank you GRIT for this opportunity! The following months will be epic, and I am so excited to share them with all!