In wheelchair motocross, also known as WCMX, athletes use a wheelchair to perform tricks and stunts on skate park ramps that are adapted from skateboarding and BMX. This adrenaline-pumping sport is perfect for people who love adventure and are athletic. Each trick requires a lot of strength and stamina. The sport has picked up in popularity in recent years, especially with younger audiences. The sport is also reaching worldwide audiences through professional athletes who travel to skateparks all over to perform their stunts and tricks, including jumps, slides and flips.
What You’ll Need to Perform
When it comes to wheelchair motocross, the ramps and falls can take a toll on your mobility device. Rather than using a power wheelchair, athletes who perform stunts use a customized or specialty manual wheelchair. This chair is made up of lightweight materials, as well as a full suspension frame that protects the user’s legs, racing shocks and wheels. In addition to the full suspension frame, other safety precautions include wearing gloves and a bicycle helmet.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
This sport requires a lot of practice to build up strength, as it is one of the key factors in successfully performing stunts. As you gear up to do a trick, it is important to work on gaining momentum by pumping your arms. This can be done through distancing yourself significantly from the jump.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a significant part of wheelchair motocross is falling. It takes time to build up the strength and stamina required to perform different stunts. Both beginners and professionals fall, which is a normal part of the wheelchair motocross experience. Falling doesn’t mean you aren’t successful. It just means that you’ll have to get back up and try again.
Important Figures in Wheelchair Motocross
Aaron Fotheringham, also known by his WCMX name, “Wheelz”, is known as the Father of Wheelchair Motocross. He was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth and has been using a wheelchair since. The inspiration for wheelchair motocross started at a skatepark with his older brother, a BMXer. Aaron Fotheringham, who was eight years old at the time, was immediately interested in BMX and wanted to participate.
After much trial and error, and breaking a couple of wheelchairs at skateparks, he sent a wheelchair company a video and they decided to sponsor him. While his previous wheelchairs were heavy-weighted and couldn’t handle a beating from the park, he got a custom-made wheelchair he uses that is lightweight, made mostly out of titanium. Other modifications to his chair include the front wheels being replaced with smaller skateboard-style wheels, the back wheels made of a stronger, more durable rubber, reinforced with heavy duty spokes and the addition of a suspension system. Through performing his stunts, he hopes to break the stigma on wheelchairs, usually associated with limiting a person or other stereotypes.
Katherine Beattie, a wheelchair user with CP, was an avid athlete, participating in surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding in her youth. After surgery to lengthen her hamstrings, causing a lack of strength and balance in her legs, she started using a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop her from participating in sports. Beattie was the first female rider to do a backflip in a wheelchair. Since 2012, when she started riding, she has been joined by other women in WCMX that perform around the country.