“Keen as, Bro” – Liam Keenan
Perspective from a team supporter
By Lee Riethmuller from Rocksy Handcycles
This time last week I was standing on the top of Skyline, NZ, holding the handlebars of Liam Keenan’s $20k NZD highly modified adaptive mountain bike, while he got ready to race.
And race he did – in the Air DH event alongside the able-bodied entrants and shred down “Mr Black” black diamond trail on a two wheel electric powered adaptive paraplegic bike he built himself.
In my mind, Liam is a legend; not just because of what he does on the bike, but also what he does off of it. Everyone who met Liam was blown away by his upbeat attitude and willingness not to allow his accident to slow him down or stop him from riding again.
I met Liam in person the day before the race, but had previously connected through social media. A friend was following him and his bike build on Instagram and sent me screen shots with comment, “This is what I want: ideally to be on two wheels again”. I messaged Liam and he responded with a whole list of suppliers and photos of how to build a bucket bike similar to his. He doesn’t mind me copying his design and ideas; he wants more people riding and entering races with him.
To have an Australian rider enter Crankworx Rotorua 2020 would be amazing.Liam Keenan
The day I flew home he dropped me off at Rotorua Airport so I didn’t have to catch a Taxi (he has a heart of gold as it’s not the quickest to transfer in & out of a car with a wheelchair) and then he was on his way to selflessly take his bike to Redwoods forest for two wheelies to test ride. Finn, a NZ local that Liam had previously visited in hospital, and Rami, just a random German guy on holidays in New Zealand that we meet at Crankworx Rotorua, were given an opportunity to experience the freedom of downhill cycling on Liam’s adaptive bike.
Liam doesn’t shy away from sharing his experiences, his learnings and his bike – he’s also super active on social media; He just wanted to encourage as many people as possible, particularly to get wheelies outdoors again.
I took Liam’s bucket bike for a nervous test ride myself and estimate that the 1500 watts electric motor paired to 11 speed mountain bike drive train must be equivalent to a 50cc Vespa scooter. After I took Liam’s bike for a test ride I said, “Wow, the power surprised me. I though it would be like an eBike but its more powerful than that. That was lots of fun.” Liam explained that his reaction was a super-powered version of mine after his first ride on his adaptive bike after his accident, and he wants to share this with others.
All in all a great week in New Zealand and a truly inspiring person with a heart of gold: Liam is …. A legend!