Editor’s Note: 49 year old Chet Dyreson of Perris, California has always been involved in motocross–racing high performance motorcycles on off road terrain and going through obstacles that most people never attempt. This week you’ll read a story of a man who has refused to be limited by a tragic accident. Part 4 of a 5 part series.
To my knowledge, no one had ever built a gas powered wheelchair, which cost about $9000. I decided if I made a cross country 4,000 mile road trip in this wheelchair that people would see the value of it and understand that people in wheelchairs could go anywhere. At the same time, I hoped to bring awareness of the need for money for spinal cord research.
One of the big concerns about the gas powered wheelchair has always been how far can you go on 3.5 gallons? When we went on this trip, we rarely got gas. After one gas run, we decided to check the mileage. We averaged 100 miles per gallon. Before the road trip, I’d drive 30 miles to get motorcycle parts. I never used much gas on those trips. Besides its light weight, the low wind resistance in this chair vs. an automobile meant little gas usage as well. My ATV wheelchair also has continuously variable transmission (CVT). In other words, the faster you go, the gear ratio changes automatically, which means less strain on the engine. This transmission is the same type used in snowmobiles and golf carts.
I decided to take my ATV wheelchair to run the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix.The timed race was a 7 mile course with all different types of terrain that lasted about 45 minutes. The race was designed for motorcycles, motocross riders and ATVs. I was surprised when the officials of the race agreed to let me run the course, never having seen an ATV wheelchair before. The wheelchair itself weighed a little bit less than 300 pounds, and I entered in the ATV class. I wanted to have fun and see how I stood up against ATVs. I was the first wheelchair racer ever in this event. On the dirt, the bike would go about 40 to 45 mph, but on my cross country run, I was clocked at 55 mph.
I’m always asked, “How did you get permission to drive your wheelchair on the interstate?” And my answer is that I’ve never asked for permission. The first time I was stopped by the highway patrol was in southern California when an officer pulled me over and said, “I don’t think you should be out here in a wheelchair. Let me go do some research.” He called his office, came back to me in a few minutes and said, “Have a safe trip. I can find nothing that keeps you from being on the highway in a wheelchair.”
Next: Chet Dyreson’s ATV Wheelchair Gives Him Freedom
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com