Matthew Beall got hooked on mountain biking for the camaraderie. “It wasn’t like in baseball or football, where it’s us against the other team,” he says. “Everybody was for each other.”
That spirit moved Beall to launch Ampt Biking in 2019. Based in Estes Park, Colorado, the organization convenes limb-different riders of all abilities to share breathtaking mountain scenery and trail rides that range from gentle to gonzo.
Above all, Ampt Biking is about hanging out and having fun with other amputees. At last September’s inaugural event, attendees ran the gamut from advanced riders like Monster Mike Schultz, a veteran of ESPN’s X Games, to beginners who hadn’t spun pedals in decades.
“We even had one lady who’d never ridden a bicycle, even before her amputation,” says Beall. “She learned to ride in the parking lot, and by the end of the day she was out riding trails.”
A below-knee amputee since childhood, Beall grew up determined to fit in with his able-bodied peers. “I had a big chip on my shoulder,” he says. “I was very prideful. My attitude was, ‘Don’t call me disabled,’ ‘Don’t call me adaptive.’ I never embraced that I was different.”
His perceptions changed after he discovered tight-knit amputee groups on Facebook and elsewhere online. “Until then, I didn’t even realize how isolated I was,” he says. “I started thinking bicycling would be an awesome way to reach amputees who feel alone, who feel down, who feel like they can’t get moving again.”
The first of Ampt Biking’s three 2021 events will take place in June in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley, near Crater Lake. They’ll ride in Estes Park in August and wind up the season with a five-day backcountry trip in the Moab canyonlands in late September. There’s no charge to attend. You can get registered at amptbiking.com.