Nearly 25 years ago, Christian Bagg was snowboarding in Canada’s Banff National Park when he crashed and broke his back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
“I knew right when I hit the ground that that was it,” Bagg, 45, told CNN. “I don’t ever remembering having any moment where I thought I would walk again. Something in me just knew it was over.”
But nothing could stop the avid outdoorsman from finding his way back up a mountain.
Decades after his accident, Bagg founded Bowhead Corp, a company that designs bikes for people with physical disabilities. These specialized bikes allow them to ride up and down rough terrains, climb mountains and even make impressive jumps.
The idea was born in 2008 in his basement, where Bagg, a machinist, worked alone to create a bike that would give him the ability to find adventures wherever he pleased without needing help or holding his friends back.
The idea was initially a personal goal that he never intended to turn into a business, but that changed when he met a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who wanted to try his bike.
“I fit her up in the bike and tied her to her friends so they could pull her with them, and four hours later she comes around the corner. I hadn’t really heard her speak much at that point, but when she got to her mom she said, ‘Mom, that was the best day of my life,’ ” Bagg said.
“The emotions I got from hearing her say that was greater than any emotion I had riding the bike. It was the moment I realized, this shouldn’t be just for me.”
In 2018, Bagg founded Bowhead Corp and began designing bikes for disabled people around the world.
His bike comes in one main design, the Bowhead Reach. But different models offer riders features to fit their specific physical needs. For example, one version has a push handle in the back for riders who still need assistance, while another can be controlled entirely by the rider.
In the reverse tricycle, the main wheel of the bike is located in the back with the remaining two wheels in the front. The bike is equipped with heavy-tread tires, a 300-watt electric motor and an adjustable seat that allows riders to spread their legs in front of them.
Bagg and his team is committed to customizing the bike with whatever upgrades or design changes are necessary to make sure anyone with a physical disability can ride one.
“Anyone who wants to ride a bike, we will endeavor to figure out how they can,” he said. “Whatever we need to do to get people outside.”
With Bowhead Corp growing — and more than 200 orders already in for the upcoming year — Bagg hopes that his bike is just the first of many technological advancements that will allow people with physical disabilities to go wherever they dream of going, or returning to the places they thought they’d never see again.