In this Rider Spotlight, GRIT talks with Tim about the road that led him to GRIT, and how his experience with his GRIT Freedom Chair has been. Tim, thank you so much for taking the time to chat, and for keeping those levers pumping!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was diagnosed with MS in 2002. I was able to physically do anything I wanted until about 2016 when I started having issues with my walking and balance. It was then a progression of losing the ability to do things I loved doing, like mountain biking, hunting, fishing, and active outdoor activities! I still would hunt and fish; just not the way and amount I had. I’ve been married twenty-eight years to my wife, Courtney, and have three kids.
“I was happy that I was mobile, but hated being stuck on paved paths and getting no exercise.”
When you were looking for an all-terrain wheelchair, what goals did you have? What features were most important to you?
I honestly did not know about the existence of all-terrain wheelchairs. I had a motorized scooter. It was a love/hate relationship. I was happy that I was mobile, but hated being stuck on paved paths and getting no exercise. I would be going for a walk with my wife and dogs and I got nothing out of it, but tagging along. Plus, I couldn’t go everywhere, like trails.
I had been looking for a more sturdy scooter and my wife came across GRIT in her attempts to find something more suitable. I was so caught off guard with the existence of GRIT Freedom Chair, I didn’t know what was important to me until I realized a whole new world was out there.
Can you tell us a bit about your very first ride in your GRIT Freedom Chair?
Slow! I played around in the driveway and yard. Of course nothing was flat. Was really wondering how I was going to deal with left to right and right to left slant. Went two miles about an hour later. It was really slow. Got stuck multiple times. Was wondering what I got myself into.
“We have gone hiking in Nevada. Hiking to waterfalls in Northern WI. A lot of my kids soccer games both high school and college. I take it to every doctor and PT appointment. Hunting & fishing.”
Nowadays, what does a typical Freedom Chair outing look like for you?
Two to three miles probably 5 times a week. Typically with my wife and our two dogs. We have a black top bike and walking trail about a ¼ mile from the house. Leads to a pond where I take my dog swimming. Also, we have gone hiking in Nevada. Hiking to waterfalls in Northern WI. A lot of my kids soccer games both high school and college. I take it to every doctor and PT appointment. Hunting & fishing.
How has your experience with the GRIT team been?
GREAT! Extremely responsive and helpful. Everyone has great knowledge of the the chair. I have broken some parts or had issues and they are always there and ready to help!
What makes the GRIT Freedom Chair a useful way to stay active?
I used to mountain bike and that all stopped when I broke my ankle and my MS made it too difficult and dangerous! I then got a mobility scooter which was functional but physically did nothing for me. The GRIT chair really is only limited by the person. I became athletic again and in better shape. Its usefulness is really only limited by what you’re willing and not willing to try. You will find things you can’t do, but doing what you can is better than nothing. Mind you, I don’t push it downhill. Once or twice barely stopping and flipping it at 18mph wasn’t fun!
“I became athletic again and in better shape. Its usefulness is really only limited by what you’re willing and not willing to try.”
If you could go back to the day you got your chair, and give your “new rider self” advice about the GRIT Freedom Chair, what would it be?
It gets easier fast. Keep at it.
What does maintenance and upkeep look like? What do you do to take care of your chair and how often do you do it?
Tire pressure and fill weekly. More in colder weather. I check and feel my chains every time I get on. Definitely stretch one more than the other. I will switch sides every now and then. Maybe every six months. I should really keep track of how much adjustment before switching. Oil chains probably monthly. The worst is the crud I pick up on the back of my truck. Especially in winter. Sand, salt, and snow. When I got a lot of salt on it I scrubbed down really thoroughly and took chains off soak & scrub.
What has been your single most memorable experience in your GRIT Freedom Chair?
Probably two things: First time going for a real ride. Just feeling alive again and physically being in control of my movements again! Second, snapping the back off of my chair. Using the hand bars and zip ties to hold back on and having to go REALLY SLOW just handling wheels to get back!
Interested in Being Featured in a GRIT Rider Spotlight?
Your GRIT story is guaranteed to be a good one and we want to hear it! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us you’d like to be in a rider spotlight. We’ll then set up a time to talk or send you some questions via email. We can’t wait to connect!