Max is my 17 year old son with Down Syndrome.
He is a really wonderful and athletic young man. He is a great hiker, cyclist and skier. He also loves music and painting. In the winters he skies with Team San Juan his Special Olympic Ski Team with Telluride Adaptive Sport Program. I work there as a coach and adaptive ski instructor. We have always ridden a tandem together since he was 5 years old.As Max got bigger and heavier it became harder for us to get out and up hills and ride long distances. Faced with not being able to bike together anymore was very sad and overwhelming.

Then in 2015, we got into Ride the Rockies. This was a huge catalyst for change. I knew it would be impossible to be able to ride such long days independently. I still deeply wanted to participate and fulfill the dream of riding across Colorado with my son, despite his disability and my strength limitations of getting 350 plus pounds of tandem and riders up a hill!

The solution was having a pedal assist motor installed on our tandem! I had our original Conquistador de Montanas mountain tandem retrofitted by John Duprey of the E bike CO in Colorado Springs. The results were absolutely amazing. The pedal assist enables us to make it up long hills together and handle the long consecutive days of riding. It was incredibly empowering to still be able to get out and ride.

The first Ride the Rockies we did started in our home town of Fruita. The experience was just spectacular. Max and I both were in heaven to be out there riding with so many happy cyclists. We were able to complete most of the ride with the truly incredible support of RTR staff.
It was not without challenges. Even with pedal assist I found myself pushed physically to my maximum cycling limitations. More than once our battery would die and Max and I were left pedaling our hearts out to make it over some of the highest mountain passes in Colorado. Every year has just gotten better and better though.
Last year we upgraded tandems and retrofitted a much lighter old Santana road bike with better and lighter batteries. Having a lighter bike has allowed us to be much more efficient in our riding and not be so tired.

This year the ride is especially important to us. Max has had some health issues and hasn’t been able to attend school. Life for him has become more challenging. It is more important than ever that he participates in a ride that has become such an important part of his physical and emotional well being. The route looks great and we are excited to explore new territory on our tandem. We can’t wait to see everyone out there!