BUTTE — Before her accident, Liz Ann Kudrna was an avid mountain biker. In 2008, she and two other friends went hiking on Mt. Cowen at the Western Beartooth Mountains in Montana. A large rock slid down the mountain and hit her in the chest sending her into a free fall.
“I fell backward and fell onto my back right away and severed my spinal cord and tumbled down the hill and a friend caught me – I actually wasn’t rescued until the next day,” Kudrna said.
But Kudrna wasn’t about to let go of mountain biking. At rehab, she discovered hand cycling.
“I knew as soon as I even talked to the rec therapist, I knew I’m getting a handcycle. I need that,” Kudrna said.
Kudrna says she still loves going out into nature, but there’s an accessibility issue for those who rely on wheelchairs and handcycles to get around the trails.
“Many trails are not accessible and we have the same desire to get out and away from the fire road. We want to get on to trails that take you a little further into the backcountry or enable you to see more wildflowers,” Kudrna said.
According to the group ‘Accessible Nature,’ there are only 25 trails in Montana that are ADA accessible (The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.).
The length of the paved trails range from just under a mile to 11 miles.
One of the shortest trails is Krause Basin Interpretive Trail in Kalispell which is a 0.25-mile interpretive loop.
The longest trail is the River’s edge trail in Great Falls which is a 25-mile trail. Eleven miles is a paved surface.
“Many trails are not accessible and we have the same desire to get out and away from the fire road. We want to get on to trails that take you a little further into the backcountry or enable you to see more wildflowers…”
Now Kudrna is planning to take part in the Divide Scramble, Bike Walk Montana’s first event.
Bruce Anderson is the volunteer coordinator of the Divide scramble. During his time in the US Navy, Anderson spent time in Italy. It was there that he fell into cycling.
“If we’re gonna improve biking and walking in cities and in the country we need to do it now while all the development is going on. If we wait as some people say well we can wait and put in trails later or walking paths in cities or in the country or paths for disabled people, it’ll be too late,” said Bruce Anderson.
The Divide scramble will have three routes to choose from: Golden eagle 1, golden eagle 2, and the grizzly. Golden eagle 1 and 2 is ADA accessible for those who use handcycles. There are 75 spots left to join in the bike tour which will take place July 17.