The UNPavement is a movement that was founded by adaptive athlete Jeremy P. McGhee, with the aim to provide better and safer access to nature and wild spaces for adaptive mountain bike riders. Jeremy expresses, on the organization’s website, that he started this mission because, “I feel stuck and disconnected from nature because life in a wheelchair is relegated to the pavement.” He further explained, that with his customized adaptive bike he was able to expand his world and explore those wild spaces. However, it was difficult to find information on trails that he could ride safely and ended up in some precarious situations.
The UNPavement was the solution to this dilemma, documenting trails and reporting on them with a simplified rating system, identification of potential problems that may be encountered, and uncut video for adaptive riders to watch and study. They also work with trail management to improve accessibility, eliminate potential problems and ensuring proper signage is utilized.
The Adaptive Mountain Bike (aMTB) ratings they developed are as follows:
aMTB1 - no support needed
aMTB2 - support recommended
aMTB3 - support needed
We were beyond stoked when we heard that Jeremy was coming out to ride and rate our trails at Lake Leatherwood. He was joined by Uriah Nazareth, with the Trailblazers, and friend Emily Messina.
The first hurdle that was encountered was that Jeremy’s adaptive bike did not fit on any of the Gravity Feed’s bike trailers. It was very important that he be able to enjoy the full experience at LLGP, so Nick quickly came up with a solution. He removed the rear seats from the shuttle van and grabbed a couple of ATV ramps. Jeremy was able to back up into the van and shoot out as he arrived at the top. As you can see in the video, he rather enjoyed this experience.
Our guide, Andrew, led the crew down all of the DH trails and became quite adept at spotting for an adaptive rider when they encountered potential problem areas. You would never of guessed it was his first time.
Most of the start gates off of the north and south hubs proved to be too narrow for Jeremy's bike but he was able to access the trails from below. Here is his take on each of our DH lines:
DH1 - aMTB2 Some help was needed at a tree gate and off camber section but Jeremy felt that it could be easily bypassed by using the nearby access road if necessary.
DH2 - aMTB2 There was a difficult section at the bottom that would require clearance and suspension
DH3 - aMTB2 There were some tricky spots that Jeremy ultimately got through unscathed but not without causing Uriah a lot of stress.
DH4 - aMTB2 An adaptive rider may need help in a few areas of this trail.
DH5 - aMTB2 This trail ended up being one of his favorites. He also stated that clearance and suspension would be needed.
DH6 - aMTB1 No issues at all for adaptive riders.
DH7 - aMTB3 Most of this trail was good as long as you have suspension and clearance. Towards the end it's bit raw and off-camber so Jeremy needed assistance in a few spots.
He's in love!
Since Jeremy's visit, we have been working on ideas on how to further make the trails at LLGP more accessible for all riders and are hoping to implement them soon.
Here is a link for the full video of Jeremy's visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euuEW_spjwo&t=451s
For further information on The UNPavement be sure to visit their website http://https://theunpavement.org/
aMTB ratings are listed on http://Trailforks.com
with more in-depth detail can be found on The UNPavement’s Trail Blog https://theunpavement.org/trails
And as always visit The Gravity Feed page to sign up for DH all day https://thegravityfeed.com/