Episode 37:

Rough Riderz—Welcome to a World of Dirt

Date released: November 2012 Updated: September 2017

Partners: Phil Hall and Rough Riderz

Rough Riderz are a group on a mission. They want to create a fully inclusive downhill Mountain Bike racing community in the UK. Yes, Mountain Biking! They are well on the way to achieving that. Read their great story and see a model of inclusion that breaks many of the stereotypes.

When we first saw this we knew immediately we had to do an Inclusion Club episode on Rough Riderz. Rough Riderz are based in the United Kingdom and have a mission statement that says:

We want to form a fully inclusive downhill MTB (Mountain Bike) racing community in the UK —www.roughriderz.co.uk

We just love programs like this. It’s innovative. It’s fully inclusive in an environment that many people will find challenging. It’s driven by passion and expertise. And it’s dirty! Let’s face it. Mountain biking is not the easiest sport to make inclusive for people with disability. But, if you have the passion and the expertise, as these guys do, then anything is possible. So what do they do? The main reason Rough Riderz started was to ‘give wheelchair users, and able-bodied riders, the opportunity to enjoy the thrills of downhill four wheel mountain biking, promoting it as an integrated sport nationwide.’ Take a look at the brilliant images below—a picture paints a thousand words so you’ll get a really good idea of the things Rough Riderz get up to:

They have also produced many excellent videos—take a look at a 3 minute extract from their promotional video below—this will really give you a good taste of what Rough Riderz do.

You can see they do some crazy and exciting stuff! A key to the inclusive approach of Rough Riderz is the design and use of four-wheel mountain bikes. These bikes not only allow people with a disability to do mountain biking—but they also open up attitudes to inclusion among existing mountain bike clubs. These bikes help people see the opportunities for people with disability in mountain biking. Now, people in the mountain bike community have, generally speaking, very open attitudes to anyone taking part in the sport. The nature of the sport lends itself to good attitudes in many ways.

The people involved in mountain biking clearly like a challenge. The bigger the challenge—the more reason to take it on! The mountain bike community is a very dynamic and proactive one. They are thrill seekers and doers! So attitudinally, they are in a good position as an inclusive sport. The challenge they do have is mostly technical. How does a person with a disability do downhill mountain biking? Rough Riderz have gone a long way toward solving this challenge with the design of their four-wheel mountain bikes. It’s absolutely key to their success—so it’s worth taking time to consider this in more detail.

There is a lot of great information and videos on the Rough Riderz website. You have the link below. So take a look at the videos and material in their site. But we wanted to get the story of Rough Riderz and learn a bit more about the bike design—so we contacted Phil Hall from Rough Riderz for an Inclusion Club exclusive interview. And watch out for a guest appearance from Maurice the Cat!!

Download transcript

As we said, Rough Riderz have a great website. Lots of excellent material. If this is the kind of sport you want to promote or, better still, get involved in, then do not hesitate to get in touch with Rough Riderz—regardless of where you are in the world. They are breaking new ground here. Great attitudes—great innovation—and wanting to spread the word about an exciting and inclusive sport. Check out their website and ‘Like,’ ‘Tweet’ and do whatever you can to lend your support.

Rough Riderz

Thanks again to Phil and Maurice the cat for their cooperation with this episode. Until next time.


About the author: Peter Downs

About the author: Peter Downs

Founding Director - The Inclusion Club

Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit.  In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.