One tough mountain biker and racer

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Photo by Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun

The Vancouver Sun published an article on Kelly Smith, a wheelchair athlete who won the wheelchair division at the Vancouver Sun Run 10K this weekend and his story of amazing toughness.

Kelly lost the use of his legs in a climbing accident 18 years ago but another accident just 17 months ago on a mountain bike nearly ended his wheelchair racing dreams as well. On a 7,000 foot downhill run in Hawaii, Kelly strapped his feet onto a downhill mountain bike and all was going well for the first half of the run. Feeling confident Kelly whipped around a turn and crashed, sending him and the bike flying. The crash was enough to fracture 2 bones in his elbow. His response:

I said Look, were not getting medivac-ed out of here. They put a stick and a spare rubber tire around my elbow just to support it. I got back on the bike, rode the rest of the way down, taken to hospital and put in a sling cast. Then we go to a pub the next day and this guy comes up to me and goes Youre the dude! Youre the dude! Im like What are you talking about. Hes like I heard all about you, the crazy paralyzed guy who went mountainbiking down Haleakala Crater, broke his arm, got back on the bike and kept riding. Youre awesome!

To make a long story short, the fractures in his elbow didn’t set properly and he had to wait some time for surgery. To a wheelchair athlete arms are everything – it’s like a sprinter breaking his leg – which makes his victory at the Vancouver Sun Run all the more amazing.

The other cool thing Kelly is promoting is able-bodied athletes competing in wheelchair races which is something I hadn’t heard of before. I’m pretty sure most wheelchair athletes could spank any one who shows up and it’s an awesome way to showcase just how truly amazing these athletes are. One to try on the mountain trike scene? Bring it on.