More than 80 people visited Ae Forest, north of Dumfries, on September 12 for the Ae All Abilities Day to demo everything from four-wheel downhill mountain bikes to powered carriages.
According to organisers, the first event of its kind designed to encourage disabled and non-disabled riders to get out on the 7stanes trails has been hailed a huge success.
“We are passionate about opening up the 7stanes trails to as many different groups of people as possible and that includes those with disabilities,” said Colin Williamson of Forestry Commission Scotland. “As we’ve seen today, all people can come to Ae Forest and, if they have the right equipment, can go out on the trails and enjoy themselves.”
Ae Forest is among the first in the UK to have a downhill track suitable for disabled – as well as non-disabled – riders. On Saturday, members of the Rough Riderz, a club for four-wheel mountain bikes, performed demonstration runs on the trails.
Those feeling brave were even given the chance to try out one of the four-wheel bikes, although there was plenty of interest for those who were not after such an adrenalin-fuelled experience.
There were demonstrations on flatter parts of the trail by Da Vinci Mobility, which offers hand powered cycles, Molten Rock, which offers Bomas four-wheel mountain bikes, Rugged Hire, which has Fieldmaster powered carriages and The Care Shop, which offers traditional powered invalid carriages.
“We are working towards making other 7stanes trails open for people of all abilities and will announce these when they are complete,” Williamson added. “We have also taken on board what people with disabilities have told us today about subtle changes needed for these trails.
“The day’s been fantastic and the feedback we’ve received has been very positive. We may well hold a similar day again in the future.”
One of the visitors, wheelchair user Bob Martin from Sunderland Tyne and Wear, said: “It’s been a very enlightening day. I didn’t realise there were so many options for all abilities and disabilities, from extreme to recreational cycling. I tried the Boma hand cycle and field master and found them to be really useful and this gave more options on the different terrains.
“The staff were also very helpful and knowledgeable which made us feel really good.”
For more information, visit www.7stanes.gov.uk.