FINALLY! Or as my Texan cousin textually screamed at me as if he was a spanish soccer announcer….CHHHHHAAAAIIIIRRRRRR!!!!
Well, in truth it isn’t really FINALLY. I’ve now had my new chair for about a month…and though I meant to write a blog before the holidays about it, compare it to the old one and explain just how vastly superior it is…the strangest set of holidays ever set in.
Did you hear the one about pre-Christmas ice storm that hit southern Ontario and knocked out power for days on end? Or how about a very VERY lucky trip to Miami that happened to land right between storms, so travel was adventurous but unaffected? Or perhaps the story of the homicidal bottle of frozen Diet Coke? Yep, life happened. So my thoughts on my new ride got delayed (insert jumbled brain joke here). However, on the good side, during that month, I have been able to run the new chair through just about every possible condition it will ever encounter. From snow, sleet, ice, slush, to Christmas shopper filled malls, salt and sand encrusted hills, to travel in a tiny turboprop plane, to a messed up United Airlines flight, to the heat of Miami, restaurant table checks, Florida downpours, a hockey game, an NFL game, casino soft carpeted death trap floors, and back to the frigid -20 C weather of home, the chair has had its trial by fire and ice in a shorter period than I ever expected.
And I have to say…It’s awesome.
Well, first, let’s recap. I’ve told you a bit about the chair previously (when it was still an on order pipe dream) and about my old chair, but let’s put them side by side, shall we? Or above and below each other depending on your screen size (seriously, get a bigger screen!)
So just what are the differences between these chairs? At first glance they might not seem so different, but as I explained in an earlier post, there a big changes between them…and not just in colour and manufacturer. You think choosing a car is tough? Wait till you see all the options on a frakking wheelchair! In fact, there are only three things that are similar between the two chairs. The seat cushion is the same (though thinner on the new chair), the rear wheels are Spinergy LX sport hubs (though again the new chair is different with larger 26 inch wheels) and the tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus skinny tires that are puncture resistant, air-filled tires. That’s it. Everything else is brand new.
Now look I know a bunch of you probably glazed over all that but trust me….my mountain biking friends were salivating over the details and I can already hear them screaming at me “SKINNY TIRES! HISSSSSS!!!!” Trust me there are reasons for why I went for a tire type that I considered sacrilege back in my biking days, but I am sure we’ve already covered those.
The big difference is the actual frame and the backrests of the two chairs. The back rest is fairly obvious. It’s a MUCH lower one that only goes to about a third of the way up my back, and surprisingly is actually more supportive than the old one. It forces me to use more of my own core muscles to stay straight and isn’t much of a leaning back crutch of the old. Yep, that means that in just its normal use it forces me into better posture and to use muscles that I ignored for most of my walking life. Go figure.
If you look closely, you’ll see the foot plate is in a different position, which in theory leaves less threat to the ankles of people who don’t pay attention, but I’ve already proved that I can still ruin a set of Achilles tendons COMPLETELY by accident if needed (sorry Bruno!) The good thing is that it keeps my legs at a much more natural position and the balance is so much lower and farther back in the whole chair that it’s virtually impossible for me to be ejected from it. Oh don’t worry…this is me. I’ll find a way to do it somehow. Then post pictures! With luck though the lighter weight, yet sturdier Titanium frame will help prevent that. The ride is a bit stiffer, but the damn thing can roll over just about anything and the balance for popping is excellent.
Honestly, there are tons of other changes, from no longer having rubberized push rails, to the lower hand grips…hell even the colour! On the advice of a tech, I gave up my British Racing Green for polished titanium…makes it easier to maintain and scratches can just be polished out. Even the neoprene covers you see on the front legs help prevent damage and the cell phone holder just under the seat are cool. All of this isn’t the big deal though….the trick is…
I LOVE IT.
I know I keep referring to earlier posts but, it is AMAZING what happens when you get a piece of equipment done RIGHT. From the measurements to the materials…in one month this thing has been through every bit of weather we could ever get here in Toronto, let alone the travel, and it is amazing the difference. There is still a lot I have to learn as I continue down this para-road…yes I’m making that term up…so sue me…but at least now we have a chair we are confidant in. The irony is, if I look back at when I first got the original chair, I probably said the same thing.
So get used to seeing pics of me coming up in the silver chair, with Shan leaning down just a bit lower now…but hey…at least I can now sit at restaurant tables without taking my bloody knees out! Ok ok…they aren’t always bloody…and the coming pics will be better!
<insert accident prone Jason joke here>
Oh and once more…special thanks to Bernadette Millette for her assistance in getting me into this beast…and she hasn’t even been able to see it yet!