When Caroline Cameron is on bike rides with her family, people want to know what she’s riding. Cameron, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, has a specialized bike – one where she pedals and someone else can steer and brake.
“My family does walking races and I wanted to participate, too, because I love to exercise. My mom and dad helped me get an adapted bike and I started biking in my neighborhood,” she said.
“A lot of people would stop to ask where I got my bike because it was something they’d never seen before, and they knew others who could use one.”
Now she’s turned her passion into a business called Rise Adaptive Cyclery. Cameron, 23, partners with Wheel Fun Rentals at Sawyer Point to rent two different styles of specialized bikes to the public.
Rise Adaptive Cyclery held its grand opening earlier this month, but the road to owning her own business wasn’t always smooth.
Cameron began working with the Bridges to Transition program when she was leaving high school. That’s where she met Carol Buckner, an employment and job training consultant who was one of several people who helped her start Rise Adaptive Cyclery.
Buckner said getting to know Cameron was key that unlocked this wonderful idea. “We were finding out about her interests and identifying what she wanted her future to look like,” Buckner said. “A strong theme of cycling kept coming out, and at that point we started to think about it more.”
They initially looked at connecting to a local cycling shop but later realized a need for adapted bikes along the many trail systems in Cincinnati. The adapted bikes are expensive and not many people could afford their own, said Barbara Cameron, Caroline’s mom. So they began reevaluate the business plan.
“We think people with developmental disabilities, older people, and those in rehabilitation therapy would enjoy cycling as well, and found a niche in the market we think we can fill,” Buckner said.
It took two years and a number of challenges, including potential partners dropping out, before Rise Adaptive Cyclery got rolling. Cameron said Wheel Fun Rentals has been very supportive and operates the stand on a day-to-day basis on her behalf.
In the few weeks the business has been open, there has been a lot of interest in the bikes. “I want to tell others to never give up – that’s my motto,” she said. “I hope my business can be successful.”
Though it was tough at times, Buckner said everything fell into place perfectly, and she hopes Rise Adaptive Cyclery can eventually expand to other trails around the city.
“Caroline is touching people through her own drive and her own story,” she said. “I hope she inspires people to enjoy nature and experience the freedom she feels when she’s out on her bike. When we spend so much time working, being able to enjoy what you’re doing is so very important.”