We were honoured to recently receive this news piece written by one of Access Adventure's very own young clients, Finn Cambridge. We wanted to share this with you.
How a Manly local found himself sending his mountain bike amongst some of the best para mountain bikers in Australia.
Deep in the bush around Manly, you can often find Sebastian van Veenendaal sending his mountain bike alongside a moon rover-esque contraption named the Jeetrike. “My favourite track is definitely Manly Dam, it’s a nice mix of technical elements and flowy sections, plus it’s right around the corner from my house.” A Manly resident, born and bred, Seb is also a big surfing fan, tearing it up on his surfboard on some of the best beaches in Sydney. That’s if he gets the chance. When I sat down with him, Seb remarked that although being an assistive AMTB (adaptive mountain bike) guide is a great job, “time management is definitely the hardest part of this job”. And that’s understandable as adaptive mountain biking is a relatively new sport, with bikes having to be custom made overseas which means demand for a product that is in short supply.
Seb runs a business called Access Adventures, dedicated to enabling people with physical disabilities to get off the couch and into the wild, untamed Australian bush. “We support people with a disability to participate in adapted recreation activities including adapted mountain biking, surfing, camping, kayaking and other adventure activities” . The idea for Access Adventures started simply enough. “I used to race road bikes regularly, and have always loved riding bikes. After connecting with a client who wanted me to be a support rider for them to use their adapted mountain bike (a Jeetrike) I purchased a mountain bike for myself, hit the trails for the first time, and the rest is history. I've been riding now for around 4 years, although I spent a good 5 or more years racing on my road bike…so you could say riding is in my blood!”
“Everyday is different for me”
As mentioned before, services like these are rare, meaning he has to travel all around the state (and in some cases the world) providing adaptive adventure and sports to seasoned pros and ordinary folk alike. Seb has travelled to such places as the U.S, Britain, Brazil and Japan working as the team manager for other sporting teams like the Australian Wheelchair Rugby team. “My role essentially was to ensure that every trip ran smoothly and everyone was able to perform at their best. This meant I looked after all the logistics for the team when away including transport and accommodation, managing game and training schedules and being the main point of contact for all competition correspondence.” This demand also means that unfortunately, Seb has to sometimes prioritise what clients he needs to work with which means people miss out on assistance. “I hate disappointing people, so it is always challenging scheduling my clients throughout the week so I can support as many people as possible”. It’s definitely hard work but Seb loves seeing people do things that were once thought impossible.
One reason Seb loves his job at Access Adventures is because of the diversity of his working life. “No two days are the same, that’s why I love what I do. But to explain a typical day, it generally involves driving my van to my storage facility and loading up with the required adapted equipment for the day. I’ll then head out and meet my first client for the day.” Seb has ridden many tracks in his career as an AMTB guide including the aforementioned Manly Dam and Stromlo, in Canberra.
For Seb, the future of AMTB looks bright. “I can see lots more advancements, particularly around trail design. I can definitely see it also being included in international events, and the Paralympics as well.” With mountain biking becoming a popular sport amongst young people one can only hope that as with other sports, like Wheelchair Basketball, Adaptive Mountain Biking can become more mainstream with many more people hitting the trails with cheaper and better built bikes like the Jeetrike.
Article written by Finn Cambridge.