Northwest NEWS

Nember 6, 2000

Features

A dream come true for two Woodinville teens

by Deborah Stone
   Most kids take riding a bike for granted. It's a skill they learn at a young age and then never give it much thought after mastering the necessary mechanics.
   For Jordan and Ashley Rannfeldt of Woodinville, riding a bike has been an issue for several years.
   The teens, both of whom have cerebral palsy, are not able to ride regular bicycles, as they have poor balance and mobility difficulties.
   "We've seen bikes for the disabled that they could ride," explains Debbie Rannfeldt, the mother of Jordan and Ashley, "but they looked like old people's bikes and the kids thought they weren't cool at all. Then, at Cycle Sunday in Redmond, we saw some adapted bikes that Ski for All had for demonstrations. Jordan rode on one that looked like a Harley chopper and he really liked it.
   "I tried to find them on the Web and found that they were only available in other states and cost over $1,900."
   After her disappointment, Rannfeldt decided to phone Ski for All and ask for the manufacturer directly.
   She was told that the manufacturer used to live in California, but had moved to Woodinville several years ago.
   Enter Dave Cloud, maker of electric and three-wheeled, pedal-powered vehicles. Cloud has been producing his creations for over twenty-five years in his garage, first in southern California and then in Woodinville.
   "My interest in electric vehicles stemmed from the gas crisis in the 70s," explains Cloud. "I hated waiting in those lines at the pumps and decided that I wanted an alternative to gas-powered cars. I didn't want to be held hostage."
   He first began making electric vehicles, then switched to pedal-powered vehicles and now he has returned to electric once again.
   "I created an electrathon, a battery-powered vehicle made of bike parts with a fiberglass shell," says Cloud. "It can go forty miles an hour and it's fun to race them for an hour and see how far you can go. I got high school shop teachers up and down the coast interested in building them because the kids really enjoy putting them together. Now there are probably about 2,000 of them around the U.S."
   With the pedal-powered, three-wheel vehicles, the rider can sit in a cushioned chair between the wheels, one in the front and two in the rear.
   The rider is in a recumbent position and pedals with his feet while holding onto a bar, which also has the brakes.
   These five speed, fully adjustable vehicles are easy to balance on, and recently Ski for All has expressed interest in them for use with handicapped people.
   "I really had stopped making these in the past years as my interest has been drawn more and more toward electric vehicles, particularly electric boats," comments Cloud. "I have a boat now that can go over seventy miles an hour and it's in the Guinness Book of World Records.
   "However, when Debbie Rannfeldt contacted me about making two bikes for her kids, I told her that I wouldn't mind making them. I knew that the kids hadn't been able to ride bikes before, but with these types of bikes, anybody can ride them, so they would be successful once they tried them."
   Rannfeldt brought her kids over to Cloud's house and showed them the bikes.
   Prior to this visit, Jordan had been resistant to the idea and had to be talked into making the trip to Cloud's house. However, once he saw the bike and learned from Cloud that anybody could ride it, he became excited about wanting one.
   "He was so hot on the idea after that," says Rannfeldt.
   According to Rannfeldt, Cloud sold the bikes for a very reasonable price and equipped them with lights, horns, radios, rearview mirrors and backpacks.
   She says, "We were able to get the funding for them through the Division of Developmental Disabilities, which was great."
   Once Jordan and Ashley got their bikes home, they rode them around their neighborhood and got a series of positive reactions from all the kids.
   "All the kids thought they were cool," comments Rannfeldt, "and this made Jordan and Ashley fit right in. This meant so much to them."
   For Cloud, the satisfaction came from the delight in the kids' faces and knowing that he helped make their dream of riding a bike possible.