Sunday, November 26, 2017

2014 flashback - for my new friend

Blogs (and Facebook) conceal the past. We all focus on the crest of the wave and seldom look back. Today I did - getting to know the man in Vancouver who oversaw the design project that gave us the TrailRider as we know it. 

One of Wade's working drawings of the Black Diamond

The TrailRider that we know and love is actually the third model produced after Sam Sullivan had the original idea. This third design is called the Black Diamond If you look at the Kilimanjaro story you will see an earlier version.

A few months ago I heard, out of the blue, from Wade Lander who designed the Black Diamond version of the TrailRider.

He told the story:  
I first encountered the Trailrider in 1999, while at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, studying Industrial Design. A student in another year had chosen to redesign it as part of an assignment and had brought in an example for study. After looking it over, I was impressed by the concept but wasn't too impressed by the design. I distinctly remember thinking though that it would be a interesting project to redesign.

  Forward to 2004;  My interest in designing assistive devices led me to volunteering with the Tetra Society, which is one of the organizations within the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation. Through Tetra I was reacquainted with the TrailRider and its parent organization BCMOS. At this time David Ostro of the Disability Foundation was finishing off a technology grant application with the Canadian Government (IRAP) to fund a redesign of the TrailRider.
  By the spring of 2005, the grant had been approved and I signed aboard as the designer with David as project manager. As of this time, the Trailrider had already undergone two revisions with mixed results. The IRAP grant stipulated that a fairly large amount of research needed to be completed to identify the shortcomings of the existing design and to create a design brief for the new version. Something that hadn't been done with the two earlier attempts.
  The next few weeks over the summer, I spent most of my weekends conducting research. Which meant, in practice, racking up the miles as a sherpa, pushing and pulling a TrailRider up and down dozens of trails to find out what worked and what didn’t work and what people liked and disliked about the design.
  While the majority of what I was doing was of a practical nature, I got to experience first hand what the TrailRider meant to the hikers who rode in it. I participated in one hike to take a man to the beach where he injured himself almost 30 years before. We travelled along the beach at low tide below the bluffs that surround the western edge of Vancouver to the place in question. Though the beach was only a few hundred meters from the nearest road, it would have remained inaccessible without the Trailrider. This experience moved me and made me realize that the TrailRider was more just a simple product,  It had a significant impact on people lives.
  The actual design work began in earnest in September of 2005 and I teamed up with Toby Schillinger who had built the previous version of the TrailRider. The previous designs had been well made, but were seriously flawed in regards to the ergonomics of the hikers and the sherpas, so a lot of my effort focused on improving those areas. The design work went smoothly as it essentially involved coming up with a design that met all the criteria laid out in the research phase and that could be built efficiently in the small quantities required.
This could be a picture of Wade conducting action research
on the Black Diamond design - but isn't. It is the 2006 access
  The first of the new TrailRider Black Diamonds were ready in August 2006, just in time for the annual Access Challenge Hike; A three day backpacking trip to Tetrahedron Provincial Park on the Sunshine coast, just north of Vancouver. The TrailRiders almost weren't ready; I had to help out to complete them the day before by sewing the various seatbelt straps, staying up till three in the morning and then preparing for the multi day hike ahead. Other than a preproduction prototype that had been quickly whisked away to a buyer a few months before, the new design had seen almost no testing and the six that were going had been assembled only hours before. The team that I was hiking with (friends I had met through the TrailRider program) had brought almost everything they could think of with the result our TrailRider with its hiker weighed well over 300lbs. The design has a rough weight limit of 250lbs, so that fact, combined with bringing five other hikers into the mountains for three days with an untested design, was a bit stressful. The TrailRiders nonetheless performed flawlessly, and all the hikers and sherpas, though a little beat up, survived the trip.
  Since its introduction, I've been happy to see the numbers of my design and the places they've been to slowly increase; from their baptism on the coast mountains of British Columbia and now on to the continent of Australia. Of all the work I've done, the TrailRider stands out as a favorite, not only as a successful piece of industrial design but as a design that has measurably touched peoples lives.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Parks Victoria win Disabled Tourism award - John Kenwright top of our tree

John Kenwright to the (w)right above
Matthew Jackson CEO, Alysia Brandenburg
 Tourism Manager Partnerships and Experiences to the left
Parks Victoria took the pic - click to visit
If you are new to this blog you may not have heard the name John Kenwright before. John, who has become a good - as in share family celebrations - friend to me and Ros, is the powerhouse behind Parks Victoria (AKA PV) winning this award two nights ago.

For me, the standout quote from Matt Jackson - PV CEO, in that Press Release was “There is an abundance of research which shows getting into nature is good for you" - something dear to my heart.

If you need to be convinced of John's pivotal role try typing his name into the Search box at the right to see a fraction of the story. 

Share with me in Liking Parks Victoria on Facebook

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Jake does it!

Jake is a student at Bega High School and has Cerebral Palsy.

This video, narrated by Jake, tells of his utter delight being out and about on the TrailRider.

It is what Ros and I always dreamt of and what, somehow, we want to turn the NSW and Victoria education sectors on to.

Don't worry that this leads to a Facebook Page - it is Public and you don't have to join!

Please join me in Liking the Bournda Environmental Education Centre on Facebook!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Should I, shouldn't I?

As TrailRider Tales nears 80,000 views (this post will tip the balance) I have been cold-called, for the first time, by an American agency offering me $40 to let a client put a Guest Post here.

I would have right of veto over the topic - I could even propose my own - the money would change hands if I linked to their blog.

What, dear reader, do you think?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Late news of the O'keefe race

As regular readers will realise I have been delving into recent TrailRider history and Cara Smith, Disability Inclusion Officer at Bendigo City and Loddon Shire, has been kind enough to send me some juicy snippets about April's O'keefe Rail Trail Race in which three TrailRiders took part.

The effort by locals Dan O’Bree and Travis Edwards in assisting young Marney Lamb (living with cerebal palsy) in the ‘trail rider’ in  the 42.195 km marathon event was remarkable. Green added, “this displayed great courage and community spirit. This community spirit shone through in other volunteer assisted activities throughout the day.”

Two all abilities teams also participated in the Ekiden Relay providing the opportunity for Jika Knight and Matt Creer to be part of the event.  They were assisted by their families and teammates.

The Bendigo Advertiser also wrote about Jika preparing for the race here and you can Like the Rail Trail on Facebook below if you like (!)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Ability Adventure on ABC Hobart

A few posts ago I wrote about the Ability Adventure on Mount Field, near Hobart in Tasmania. Since then I have been contacted by Cody McCracken, from Wild Pedder, with a recording of his interview on ABC Hobart. 

I have made that into this video.

Like the Wild Pedder Facebook page