Video: Quadriplegic Freerider Shreds Local Trails in Kraków, Poland

Jan 11, 2021 at 6:14
by gbn-crew  
Views: 7,380    Faves: 19    Comments: 1


Words: Michał Święciński

Until recently, I didn't even realize the importance of progression in my life. Yet, being paralyzed puts a different perspective on many things.

What kept me going for my whole adult life, was that wholesome feeling of fulfilment when you manage to get better, seeing that your work paid off. Learning to ride faster on my bike, never ending learning tricks on a snowboard, to everyday struggle to get back control of my own body. Things change quickly, huh?

handbike freeride

handbike freeride

I realize now, this mindset is both my curse and blessing. It made me go for Crabapple hits back in 2014 when I finally decided to make my biggest dream come true and go to Whistler. I'd been having a trip of a lifetime, and I could not resist putting a cherry on top of my progression by hitting the biggest jumps in the bikepark. I took a few breaths, counted down and dropped in... Two weeks later, I woke up in ICU after a horrible crash. I needed to relearn how to breathe independently, move my hand, and then begin the biggest fight for progression in my life.

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Less than 3 years after my accident, I was riding again on a handcycle. It gave me back the joy of getting rowdy and that well-remembered feeling of satisfaction that comes with unlocking new lines. Then riding those lines even faster and faster to the point when you start to question your bike's ability to handle the next season of progression.

That's where I'm at right now. My bike breaks twice a year, making any long trip or rougher trail too much of a gamble. Progression stopped. Kraków, Poland has plenty to offer, but I've unlocked all local trails accessible on this bike.

I figured out this may be now or never to film them and see if quadriplegic with no finger function can create a proper edit.

Video making is also something I try to get better every year. It is obviously harder to direct being stuck on a handbike with my hands tied (both metaphorically and not), but with a lot of planning, pushing, and enormous help from @ebeb we managed to overcome all obstacles and create something we are proud of.

I'm delighted with the result and visible progression comparing to previous films we've made, so on the contrary to popular opinion, I consider past year... pretty good. I've accomplished my main biking and filming goals. I love how all those two passions compliment each other. I live this whole MTB lifestyle thing, and I just want to continue doing it simply because it makes me happy.

XD

Being paralyzed from my arms down means every off-camber section is like a coin toss for me currently - either I crash or somehow ride through it. As a quad, I don't have working fingers and almost no grip and tricep. Right now, I ride with my hands tied to the bars. I operate all the brakes at once with my elbow.

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I use my bike as a physio machine as much as my psychotherapist - it works like a charm leaving all the evil thoughts in the dirt behind me. I'm looking for the next big step for my rehabilitation. If you'd like to help me push my limits further, you can donate or share my fundraiser with my whole story inside. Mountain biking is for me something more than just a passion. It's a job, it's a lifestyle, a therapy. It is something that allows me to express myself and feel... Ok. Despite everything.

handbike freeride

Thanks to everyone for reading, sharing and donating, can't wait to ride some trails with you!

Yours,

Michael




59 Comments

  • 24 0
 Respect! Majority of my "bike-friends" who are like me around 40 are complaining about being too old to ride, bad weather, not the latest bike, etc... Just excuses for their too comfortable life. Next time I will tell them about you as an inspiration. By the way, I'm from Krakow too, and one day I will return there so I will need someone to ride with!!!
  • 12 0
 pm me anytime you are around and hopefully with new bike I'll be able to show you more trails than my grandpa style cross country, couse there is a lot new great trails built and planned 3
  • 13 1
 Everyone needs a lil more duct tape in their lives, this is awesome!
  • 14 0
 dude my whole life is kept together by duct tape xD thx!
  • 6 0
 Great edit! It is an amazing journey you've been on. Your progression is inspirational. I and perhaps many others would be interested in seeing more. You could even share how you operate the bike and all the technology involved. All of that would be interesting to a lot of people.
  • 4 0
 thx! I tried do that vlog-style talking to the camera but I'm shy and really bad at that xD
  • 2 0
 @gbn-crew: So cool to see an edit from you man! Stay strong and we get this thing together for you.
Let's go community and make Michael's dream come true !
  • 8 0
 Makes me happy that he can go out there, enjoy the woods, wind...it's like a mix of mtb and bobsleigh.
  • 3 0
 @gbn-crew what hand cycle do you currently use?
My wife is paraplegic and could do with something other than a hand cycle attachment for a wheelchair.

Good luck with the fundraiser - you also look like you shred harder than me even with a hand cycle!
  • 4 0
 sorry to hear about you wife man, at the moment im using sport-on xcr, but there is very similar, full suspensioned lasher ath. nothing beats bowhead though, its different league in terms of technology and design
  • 2 0
 @gbn-crew: Thanks for the info.
Have you got an electric drive on the back?
  • 2 0
 @tuhuramtb: yes I do and highly recommend that. I mean drive is on front, in the back is just the battery
  • 6 0
 No suspension?? Dude rides hella fast on that thing!
  • 9 1
 thats why i'm raising funds fo proper mtb handbike! gofund.me/edad7bb8
  • 1 0
 @gbn-crew: I would contact a welder near you, see what price you can get, and go for something with two wheels in the front and a leaning linkage system as well as suspension. Good luck!
  • 2 0
 @brokemywristbyfallingoffmybike: there is tons of problems with that, main being homemade bike will require endless adjustments and repairs and i cant do them on my own, whereas this ones riding ability is checked and proven after years of development
  • 1 0
 @gbn-crew: Oh that does make sense, btw I love the tires on your bike.
  • 2 0
 I believe many of us use biking to leave our evils in the dirt behind us. I see a lot of initiatives happening to increase opportunities for adaptive riding and it makes me appreciate the inclusive nature of mountain bikers. It’s really inspiring to see people shred, regardless of the type of bike they’re riding! Sweet edit.
  • 2 0
 Amazing to see you out on your bike. I hope the rapid development of AI, as well as metrical and general technology will bring a lot of the freedoms most take for granted every day. We all go out on our bikes, boards, skis etc knowing there is a risk. Most of us come back with a few cuts, some with broken bones and a small few loose the ability to fully use parts of our bodies. I agree that progress and development is such an important part of life. I remember watching an amazing YouTube video of Tony Robbins talking about how to recalibrate your life following a life changing event. From what I have seen we are on the edge of a huge technological boom. There is good reason for hope and optimise for the amazing unknown that lies ahead of us all.
  • 1 0
 "Right now, I ride with my hands tied to the bars. I operate all the brakes at once with my elbow."

That's some serious effort, good on you!

I used to teach handicap skiing, mostly worked with folks in sit skis; this was pre-monoskis, it's a tough way to get down the hill, but well worth the effort.
  • 4 0
 Pic #4: Happiest dude on earth!
  • 3 0
 that was my first ride after accident and happiest moment in past 6 years for sure Smile
  • 3 0
 This is so awesome! Huge respect for getting out there and getting after it dude.
  • 2 0
 Cool content, more interesting than the average edit posted to PB. Well worth chipping in towards your new Bowhead! Those look pretty sick!!
  • 1 0
 thanks man!
  • 2 0
 Crushed T6 & T7 about 20 years ago... Glad that my only long-term damage is being an inch shorter. I pitched in. Hope you can get that sweet rig.
  • 1 0
 with some help i surely will and cant wait!
  • 2 0
 Some inspiration for disabled people can be found also here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKo12MmFA7s&ab_channel=FullfaceProductions
  • 4 0
 totally awesome!
  • 2 0
 Beautiful to see! Stoked for him to get outside and to find joy in the outdoors again!
  • 3 0
 Hell yea man. Limitations are all relative. Thank you for inspiring me!!!!
  • 1 0
 thanks for kind words!
  • 3 0
 Let’s get the geo on that rig. HTA def f*cks
  • 3 0
 mad kudos - that's pretty badass !
  • 2 0
 I'd ride with you any time! Best of luck on the fundraiser! PS - I think a trail dog is in order!
  • 1 0
 thanks! when i'm able to take care of a dog i surely get one Smile
  • 2 0
 So rad!! I watched with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye!! Never give up and never stop sharing!!
  • 2 0
 thanks, to be honest there were lots of times i nearly gave up but there is always one more goal to acomplish and some hope left to keep myself going
  • 1 0
 Keep at it sir!!
  • 1 0
 I guess All Them Witches deserves credit for the outstanding music in this video. Btw we met at Enduro Trails I believe in 2018!
  • 2 0
 Imagine Knights poland trails
  • 2 0
 Awesome video! A lot of respect for your riding skills
  • 1 0
 That smile tho!! SALUTE' \M/
  • 1 0
 Wpierdol is going to be my brand of choice for my next MTB goggles Big Grin
  • 1 0
 U go boy rip it up????????????????????????????
  • 1 0
 From Krosno?
  • 2 0
 korczyna to be exact
  • 1 0
 Sick AF
  • 1 0
 Ride on, Michal!
  • 2 0
 Donated
  • 1 0
 @stuartpenney: thank you man!
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