Marc Romero speaks Wednesday about his prosthesis and his efforts to educate about riding with one in Steamboat Springs. Romero was in town for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. His prosthesis is old, he said, one he'd never use to walk. But he had it refitted, and it now is ideal for cycling.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Marc Romero speaks Wednesday about his prosthesis and his efforts to educate about riding with one in Steamboat Springs. Romero was in town for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. His prosthesis is old, he said, one he'd never use to walk. But he had it refitted, and it now is ideal for cycling.

Adaptive cyclists in Colorado experience power of biking

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— Marc Romero seamlessly transitioned from his walking leg to his riding leg Wednesday afternoon. Participating in his first Bicycle Tour of Colorado, Romero’s complaints didn’t start with the hot weather or the headwinds the tour has encountered and certainly not with his amputated right leg. 

Hopping back on his bike reminded him just how sore his butt was after four days of riding. 

A simple “ugh” reminded him of that not-so-fun feeling that comes along with early-season biking. 

But one walk around the Steamboat Springs High School and Memorial Park — where combatants of the 2012 tour ended after riding from Craig on Wednesday — was a good reminder of the power of biking. 

Romero — who works for his nonprofit, Adaptation Education, and chronicles adaptive athletes with his media company, One Track Production — was riding in the tour for multiple reasons. 

He loves biking but also wanted to make a point that anyone can ride. 

His right riding leg was constructed from an old prosthetic, which he adjusted and worked with until he had it dialed in.  

He said he’s had no problems. 

“If I’ve done 462 miles with my biking leg, you can certainly recreationally bike,” he said. 

Romero, who works with schools and produced the documentary “Heroes of the Slopes,” which offered insight into disabled skiing, said adaptive biking is growing at a rapid pace. 

With developments in prosthetics, it’s starting to become as accessible as skiing and water sports, he said.

“We aren’t picky with what we work on,” said Don O’Connor, who owns Any And All Bikes in Denver. “We’ll work on any and all.”

O’Connor said he probably has sold or worked on more than 1,000 adaptive bikes in the past 10 years. 

But recently, he said, he barely can keep the products on his shelves. In November, he had 48 of his most popular bike. Before he left for this tour, one remained. 

“We work quite a bit with hand cycles, special tandems and adult tricycles,” he said. 

And there isn’t a project too big or unique for O’Connor. Several years ago, he got a call from an adaptive athlete looking for a bike. 

“He said, ‘We might have a problem; I don’t have any arms,’” O’Connor said. “I said, ‘What’s the problem?’”

O’Connor’s work isn’t only with adaptive athletes. 

Scott Hinshaw saw his life change in 2007, when he and fellow Colorado State Patrol Trooper Zach Templeton were assisting a motorist on Interstate 76. A truck lost control and hit both men, killing Templeton and leaving Hinshaw with life-threatening injuries. After countless surgeries and battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, Hinshaw found biking and O’Connor. 

Getting on two wheels helped him recover physically and maybe even more so mentally. 

“Don and biking probably saved my life,” said Hinshaw, who helps run the Flying Wheels Foundation, a group that helps provide financial relief for officers injured in the line of duty. “It did save my life.” 

The 2012 tour takes Thursday off before departing Friday for Walden. The ride is scheduled to finish Saturday in Fort Collins but may be moved to Laramie, Wyo., because of the High Park Fire burning in the Fort Collins area.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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