Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Specialty bike gives mobility to person with special needs

CLEARWATER — Chip Haynes sat on the floor of his garage filled with hand-crafted cycles and rickshaws, tweaking the seat height of his latest creation with a monkey wrench.

It was the final adjustment on the grasshopper green bicycle he made for his neighbor, 46-year-old Sky Drysdale, who at 35 inches or "2-foot-11-ish," had never been able to find a bicycle her size before.

Sky's husband, Chris Drysdale, helped her mount the bike, and Haynes stepped back, clasping his arms around his chest.

"Go! Go! Go!" Haynes, 65, said.

"Don't worry about stopping," Chris Drysdale said. "I'm right in front of you."

Sky's legs pushed the pedals, painfully, but in a way she could never do before, she said. Getting comfortable with the Grasshopper would take time, but it was a success.

"I like it when it's a win," Haynes said.

The idea for the bike stemmed from the pair's longtime friendship. Haynes, a retired graphic artist, Renaissance Fair juggler, published author and avid cyclist who says his cycling resume is three times the length of his professional resume, first met Sky when she was about 5 and lived with her parents down the street. Over the years, they've worked together on various projects including Renaissance fairs and movies for TV. Once to fill air time, they had they idea to dress Sky in a tuxedo and conduct an all kazoo orchestra.

"When he has an idea, he usually finds a way to get it done," Sky said.

The idea for Drysdale's bike started with a Facebook post. Haynes posted a picture of a miniature bicycle he built called "The Razor Runt," which he takes with him to his book signings. He said he could ride it and tagged Sky in the photo.

"He's always posting crap on Facebook about bikes and how anyone can ride," Sky said. "So I decided to call him out on it."

Sky, who said since had wanted to bike since she was a kid but couldn't find one she could ride due to dysastopic dysplasia dwarfism, commented on the photo:

"My dearest dream is to someday ride a bike. But alas even that one is too big. My legs are only 8 and 8½ inches long. Even with lifts in my sneakers evening them out they're still too short for even the smallest bike. And yes, I've looked into custom ones but they're too expensive. LOVE the bike though!!!"

Haynes got to work immediately.

"I always love a challenge," he said.

Bicycling has been his thing since he was a kid. When he was young, he had a heart problem, and cycling helped, he said. He rides about 10 miles every day. Forty years ago, he rode across the country in 80 days and has written and published multiple books on cycling.

A few people donated bits and pieces and scraps of metal, and Charlie Shaw, a friend of Haynes who works on museum exhibits, shortened the crank. Through a process of trial and error, Haynes set to build Sky a bike that would work — and looked good. He repainted a Spiderman children's bike frame green.

She asked him if he could put training wheels on the bike. He told her no.

"I wasn't going to put cheap, kiddy, plastic training wheels on an adult bike," he said.

He did, however, add a set of "outriggers" — two wheels behind to stabilize her.

TV shows, such as TLC's Little People, Big World, have put dwarfs in a more familiar light in recent years, Sky said, and have made things a little easier.

"When I was in my teens and 20s, I was the first little person people had seen," she said. "Now people who watch Game of Thrones have Peter Dinklage in their house every week."

Her coworkers have regularly asked her when the bike will be done so they can ride with her, she said, but she wants to practice first.

Chris, who routinely test drives some of Haynes' other creations, said he's excited to finally be able to ride along with his wife.

"This is amazing," he said. "I didn't think this would be possible, but now that the two of us can do it, that'll be nice."

Specialty bike gives mobility to person with special needs 11/18/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 2:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Coquina Key Neighborhood Association to hold forum for District 6 council candidates

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association is inviting residents to meet the crowded field of candidates running for St. Petersburg's City Council District 6 at a forum Monday evening.

    International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement-affiliated City Council candidate Eritha "Akile" Cainion pauses between answers during a forum at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront earlier this month. The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association plans to hold another forum on Monday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Coquina Key Neighborhood Association Clubhouse, 3850 Pompano Drive SE. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Lake Tarpon bass tournament still going strong after nearly 40 years (w/video)

    Outdoors

    Matt Smith, left, and Gary Muchler, work to bring a large mouth bass into Smith's bass boat with only minutes to spare while fishing off Dolly Bay in Lake Tarpon during the Lake Tarpon Tuesday Night Bass Fishing Tournament on Tuesday (7/18/17). The fish sealed second place for the duo.
  3. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Snooty the manatee's death prompts outpouring of support, petition to move Confederate monument

    Wildlife

    BRADENTON — The South Florida Museum aquarium remains closed Monday and tributes continue to pour in following the shocking death of Snooty, the beloved manatee who captured the hearts of …

    Four-year-old Katie Blair pays her respects to Snooty at a makeshift memorial in front of the museum on Sunday. Katie and her family has visited the aquarium to see Snooty four times this year. 
Snooty was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity and celebrated his 69th birthday Friday at the aquarium. Aquarium officials described Snooty's death as a tragic accident and is being investigated. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  5. Clearwater mansion that sold at record price is back on the market for $19.75 million

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Less than four months after it sold for a record $11.18 million, the waterfront Century Oaks estate is back on the market — for $19.75 million.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor, which sold for $11.18 million four months ago, is back on the market.
[Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group
]