Pop that little wheelie and impress your friends. Hold it and they hold you in awe. Right up or down that small curb. Into your friend’s house. It’s a wheelchair maneuver that has its uses. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should.
(The announcer says this next sentence with a low, authoritative voice.) “The perfectly executed wheelie gently lifts the casters off the surface whilst the rider glides the chair forward and over the obstacle.” The Keystone Kops version is somewhat different with an entirely different result.
About a week and a half ago I needed to traverse the tracks of a triple sliding patio door. Everything went wrong. I felt the casters rise and realized I didn’t have them under control. I hoped they would go back down but felt them continue to rise. Popping a wheelie was now crashing a wheelie. I know we were going over backward.
When the wheelchair flips, the rider needs to take precautions to avoid major injury. I slipped into tuck and roll mode and prepared to roll gently out the back as the chair landed. All went well until I actually landed – directly on the metal track. My form had been good, and the chair was indeed crossing the track with the casters in the air. Way in the air, but whatever. That forward motion was my undoing. “Ouhhhhh…”
I do wish to make a point, other than get your wheelies right every time. Even when we are being careful, things can go wrong. When they do, try to remember the proper form. But this is also a reminder to watch for things that can flip a wheelchair, slide a crutch, deceive any mobility device, or otherwise cause what we least expect. Misplaced throw rugs, toys left out, the dishwasher left open (yes, it happens), tracks too wide, curbs too high.
This isn’t just for wheelies or crutch users or people who can’t see. It’s for summer in flip flops, winter in boots, or baking cookies (which sound good about now). Things can and do go wrong. Try to avoid them; keep calm when they occur.
And by all means, don’t crash your wheelies.