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Tales of a Three-Legged Wolfe
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lowly sipping my mocha at my favorite, crunchy, coffee shop in Seattle, I sure thought I was smooth. But, suddenly something caught my peripheral vision. This guy hops on up to the counter and only after staring inquisitively far too long did I realize he was sporting only one leg.

I quickly surmised his huge one meter hops were simply his way of walking, although it did make me question the safety of it all. Then just as I began resuming my smooth stature, I heard something — it was the familiar click of metal on tile. A certain click that is unmistakable. I knew this sound.

"This was my chance to capture this two-wheeled, one-legged, fuzzy faced freak. I slammed the rental into park, busted out the camera, leaned out the passenger window and held my breath..."

Confused, I again looked up only to see this one-legged man hopping huge strides, with fresh brew in hand, with increasing speed out the door. My mind couldn’t process the information. It didn’t add up. He was definitely making that all too familiar sound. He was sporting a clipless shoe. My questioning mind began a game of 20 questions (and no answers) in my head. But you can’t clip into pedals with one leg! This guy's gotta be wearing ‘em for another reason! He must use them for something else. There must be another reason!

My eyes defied my mind as my partially obstructed view allowed me only an instant to glimpse him mount his mountain bike, composed with coffee in hand, and in a blink, was gone. Wait my brain screamed. What the hell's going on here. That guy was screaming! He had a fresh hot brew in his hand! Did anybody see that?! What the hell’s going on here? Frazzled and not so sure of anything all the sudden. I looked around to see if anyone else was struck with blank confusion like myself. Nothing.

My next sighting was while sitting at a stop light. The guy beside me, holding a solid bike track stand, made eye contact and gave me a nod. Why am I not riding I wondered as he beat me off the line and was off. "Hey that was HIM!" I yelled to no one as I realized it was that one-legged Wolfeman. His one leg propelled him without hesitation, up the hill and out of sight, while his upper body pumped all of his energy into the pedals. Again I found myself nodding in disbelief. How does he do that? There’s no way to catch yourself on one side, that’s half of your balance.

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My next encounter was at the 24 Hours of Moab endurance race I was investigating. As I drove into the red desert dustbowl, making room for racers as they came at me, I saw him. This was my chance to capture this two-wheeled, one-legged, fuzzy faced freak. I slammed the rental into park, busted out the camera, leaned out the passenger window and held my breath. Click. Got him! I questioned other racers about this competitor thinking that if he was in this 24 hour endurance race that there must be a disabled class or team. No one knew what I was talking about and I never saw him on course again.

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After the race I was looking to put in a couple days of freeriding myself. I did what I knew best and headed to the local cafè, only to find him. I tried not to point when I said "I know you...you're from Seattle." "Why do you think I'm at the best latte in town?" he said and with that I pulled myself up along side the Wolfe-man to find out his story.

He proceeded to tell me about his 24 hours of torture in the desert. He averaged one hour, 29 minute laps over the five laps he did. I had done one, stopping only momentarily for photos, and it easily took me two hours. He told me about his ski racing history, his Alaskan upbringing, his discomfort with prosthetics, his weekly community cyclocross workshops, his run-in in with an Elk off highway 410, and with a black bear on the backside, and a cougar on the front side, of Tiger Mountain outside of Seattle. Mainly, it was all about his ongoing, all-encompassing objective to bring his hard ass (literally) and humble, multi-dimensional, coffee powered, environmentalism to the bike community and beyond that had me inspired. He then asked if I wanted to join him in a ride.

sea otter mountain biking mountain biking mountain biking sea otter classic "The best part is how he always reverts back to his community and his main goal to get more people pedaling and reveling in a sport that everyone always thinks you need two legs to do..."
The next morning we met up and joined in our Northwest caffeine tradition. We decided on the nice, long, Gold Bar trail. So off we went in a foursome of freewheelin’ acquaintances whose common goal for the day was only to ride.

The road quickly turned to sand, which soon turned fossilized and was solid with obstacles and "stairs" in every conceivable shape. Wanting to see just how this untamed Wolfe attacked these obstacles, I held back a bit. Unlike myself, who simply attacks with blind force, lacking any finesse, Brett easily turned to his endless supply of technical savvy and turned on his trials-type tactics. He "hopped" his bike much like he walked and bumped up all the fossilized obstacles smoothly and without pedaling...or hesitation. And his fluidity was routine. While I would flail and fall, Brett would bump up anything with ease. I'm no expert, but I can usually grunt my way atop obstacles even with some stumbling involved. Today, in a struggling attempt to simply keep up and not have to dismount to let Brett pass on every possible obstacle, I found myself experimenting with the stop, hop and lift technique. (Did I mention that Brett was fresh off a 24 hour endurance race?) Throughout the day, the three legged Wolfe provided inspiration and advice against failing legs, body and mind, all 30 plus miles deep into the Utah desert.

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What you need to know is that Brett is looking to represent America in the Olympics in Sydney next year. The disabled Olympics haven’t found their way into mountain biking yet, so Brett will be working it with the roadies (road cyclists) in Arkansas attempting to qualify for the National Road Team and then spinning around the velodrome in Tennessee in another attempt to make the National Velodrome Disabled Team. Of course, in the meantime, he’ll be doing a bunch of self abuse in the form of endurance races.

When they finally do get mountain biking to the disabled Olympics, look for the three legged Wolfe breaking away from he pack. Either way, he'll be busy reverting back to his community and his main goal — to get more people pedaling and reveling in a sport that most people would think you need two legs to do. But, as proven, two isn’t even enough to keep up with a three legged Wolfe.

— Hans Prosl, trying to keep up for MountainZone.com

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