YUMA, Ariz. – The Chernobyl Plant explosion in 1986 in the Ukraine is the worst nuclear disaster in history. Lethal radioactive chemicals released throughout Eastern Europe caused death and physical changes. Some that are still present to this day.
“Well I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. I have no arms because of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. And I actually consider myself lucky being born without arms because a lot of people who lose their arms had to learn a whole new way of lifestyle,” said Michael Trimble.
Trimble was adopted and brought to America in 1992. And he can pretty much do most everything you do. Trimble said, “Everything you can do with your arms I can do with my feet. Clothe myself, shower myself, cook for myself.”
Two months ago Trimble move to Yuma, where he continues to surpass physical limitations. But there was one thing he really wanted to do: Competitive cycling. “But everyone kept telling me what I wanted was impossible, I was a legal liability. It was just not going to happen,” said Trimble.
Then along came Yuma resident and Little Belgium Bicycles shop owner Samuel Bell. It took Bell two weeks to come up with a design that would allow Michael to commute more comfortably across Yuma and have a shot at gold.
“He pretty much said, hey this is what I’d like and left it up to us to get it done. So I enjoyed getting the opportunity to work on something that would help improve the quality of his life,” said Bell.
They’ve built a light bike. Half the weight of his old one. In place of handle bars there is a special attachment Trimble wears on his shoulder to help steer. “And I have a little nub here that I put into the U-circle thing and these are coastal breaks so when I stop I just go like this,” said Trimble.
But Trimble has a need for speed, which means multiple gears, and a hand brake. Bell said, “The biggest challenge for us was that he wanted to have multiple gears, that and the breaking. So when you add in anything more than three gears, you have to go from a coaster brake which you use your feet to break with, to a hand brake. Because Michael doesn’t have arms finding a way to hand brake was going to be a challenge.”
As Trimble continues to challenge himself to ride across all types of terrain and at higher speeds, they’ve inputted this shifter that will change the way he rides, unique to this bicycle in particular.
With Bell’s help and Trimble’s perseverance, you can now look out for the inspiration on wheels coasting on the open roads. And his next challenge? The paralympics! “So if you see me on the road feel free to honk,” said Trimble.
And yes, he can wave too!