Ian’s Ride began in 2016, when our founder, Ian Mackay, set off on a wheelchair journey across the state of Washington. Ian incurred a spinal cord injury from a bicycle crash in 2008, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Prior to his injury he was an avid outdoorsman, biology student, birder, and lover of nature. The devastating injury left Ian thinking that his outdoor pursuits were no longer available. As the years rolled by, small steps were made, technology advanced, and Ian was able to access a phone where he could call for help. He began venturing further away from home on his local bike path, rekindling his love of nature and cycling. Although in a power wheelchair, driving with his mouth, he still felt connected with the cycling community. The big ride across Washington in 2016 was an experiment to see just how doable cross country travel might be for a power wheelchair. Ian got some cycling friends to join him, with the promise that they could enjoy a craft beer each evening. The journey became something larger than expected. 335 miles were traveled, lives were changed, imaginations were sparked, and hearts were forever touched. Numerous other wheelchair users and cyclists joined in on the ride. Strangers reached out from far and wide with their stories of disability and their desire to get more active outdoors. What began as a long ride with a daily beer turned into a media whirlwind and education on active transportation.
In the aftermath of the 2016 Ride, Ian gave a lot of talks and gathered several awards. With the encouragement of supporters, he realized he needed to continue his outreach. This began the nonprofit organization of Ian’s Ride.