The word ‘inspirational’ might sometimes feel overused, but watching a group of mountain bikers and adaptive athletes race down a trail together is undeniably moving.
The latest YouTube video from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) tells the story of Deepest Darkest, a new bike trail that has been improved for everyone, including disabled mountain bikers who have found a way back to the lifestyle they love.
But the “Digging for Answers” video (watch below) is about much more than a single trail. It’s a microcosm of the efforts of Joe Stone, an adaptive athlete who became Director of Mission for Teton Adaptive in 2020. Stone’s mission is to improve the inclusivity of outdoor sports for adaptive athletes — and everyone else.
“I wanted to see more inclusion in outdoor recreation,” Stone said in the video. “Our goal is to get the already existing businesses to get proper training and the equipment they need so that the community is more inclusive.”
When Stone began discussing how to address inclusivity with Ranyon D’arge, JHMR’s Mountain Design Manager, they immediately connected with Pierre Bergman, a JHMR employee who experienced a life-changing injury.
So first, Stone introduced Pierre to super-modern adaptive bikes that have transformed the ability of disabled people to ride down steep trails. Pierre immediately loved the bike, but Stone’s next goal was more ambitious. He wanted to improve the trails for adaptive athletes, starting with Deepest Darkest.
“I had this idea of universal design, which is a huge push within the disability community right now,” Stone said. “Let’s just make trails that work for everyone. Then our community grows from that. That’s amazing.”
Stone and D’arge worked together to create a “universal” trail design that brings flow, speed, and excitement to adaptive and non-adaptive riders alike and strengthens the biking community’s bonds.
The video’s final two minutes show a team of friends, including several adaptive athletes, speeding down Deepest Darkest together. Rather than being separated by their physical differences, they found a connection through their love of the outdoors.
“I’m just beyond grateful to have a community I’m surrounded by now that wants to create that for everyone,” Stone said.