Roger Withers from Ability to Ride is a man on a mission – to bring adaptive ebike experiences to as many amputees and people with altered abilities as possible – both in Australia and around the world.
As the founder of Ability to Ride and an amputee himself, Roger knows firsthand the life-changing power of helping others to rediscover the freedom and joy of bike riding.
“After becoming an amputee, I struggled with my own physical and mental health, but I was determined to get back on a bike,” says Roger.
“12 months after becoming an amputee I took part in the Sydney to Gong bike ride – the next challenge was to get back to mountain biking. But the pain of riding up steep hills was incredibly limiting. It was after trying my first electric assist mountain bike, a Specialized Turbo Levo from Camden Cycles, that the game completely changed. I could get back on the mountain bike trails and rediscover the freedom of mountain biking,” he says.
“Both organisations can see the huge impact we have helping someone with a disability to ride again; not only do they rediscover the joy of riding a bike, but the social, physical and mental benefits are life changing. It’s really exciting to see how we can expand the program around Australia and internationally. We’ve had amputees in their 70s who thought they’d never ride again, cycling around and shouting with pure delight at the fun of being back on a bike,” says Roger.
Southern Prosthetics and Orthotics in Unanderra is another big supporter of the Ability to Ride program, offering their specialised support to help amputees make adjustments to fully enjoy their ride.
“Often people need adjustments and minor adaptations to be able to be fitted onto a bike safely, so we’re grateful to have the support of the whole team.”
Roger is a qualified mountain bike coach with the Professional Mountain Bike Instructors Association, and is keen to share his skills with more people as interest grows in the programs.
While group rides and tours are temporarily on hold during COVID-19 lockdown, Roger is still offering some services with COVID safe measures, and looks forward to resuming business as usual, which usually includes a number of group rides and tours, open to everyone.
“Our bike rides and coaching aren’t just for amputees, but the rides we host for the wider community help us to raise funds in order to offer amputee ride days which are free of charge,” says Roger.
Ability to Ride Worldwide is working towards becoming registered as an NDIS provider, and has longer term plans of establishing as a charity. In the meantime, thanks to the support of Amputees NSW, Ability to Ride can accept tax deductible donations to its programs, here.