Back on the bike: U.P. veterans try adaptive bicycles

News

IRON MOUNTAIN — If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “it’s like riding a bike”, for some veterans in the U.P. it’s not always that easy.

The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center and the U.P. Superior Alliance for Independent Living (SAIL) held an adaptive bike clinic for Upper Peninsula veterans. The goal was not only to introduce the veterans to a variety of bicycle options but also give them a chance to rediscover their freedom.

“These bikes are specialized in the sense that they have different kinds of grips, different kinds of handcycles, different stuff for people that maybe have amputations,” explains Sarah Peurakoski, Executive Director of SAIL. “It’s really a way for people to see the variety that’s out there for people with disabilities.”

For some, this was their first time on a bike in years.

“It’s the best part of my job, you know,” says Boone Kerley, Recreational Therapist at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center. “Yeah, it’s incredible seeing people get on it and to gain that independence and to gain that freedom that they may have lost or just not known that they even had access to.”

“So this will give an opportunity to go biking out on those back roads, get that freedom, get that energy back that they’re used to,” adds Peurakoski.

Like U.S. Army veteran Kay Lynnbrazeau, who says she was originally nervous to attend the clinic.

“I live in the country so this will give me so much more freedom. I’ll be able to go just about anywhere. It’ll be nice,” says Lynnbrazeau.

Kay no longer has the use of her legs, so she tested out a bike that allows riders to pedal with their arms. After spending some time on the bike, Kay says she’s already planning to buy one of her own.

“Oh yes. Oh yes. Right now,” she adds.

When asked if Kay is happy she decided to attend the clinic after all she had this to say…

“My best day so far.”

Proving, the phrase “it’s just like riding a bike”, might not be that far off.

Anyone interested in testing an adaptive bike can contact SAIL at (906)228-5744 or online at www.upsail.org. Veterans can also contact Boone Kerley at the VA Medical Center by calling (906)774-3300 ext. 32792 or email jesse.kerley@va.gov.

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