Ian Mackay of Agnew rides his wheelchair through Robin Hill Farm County Park. Mackay is preparing to host a group ride on the Olympic Discovery Trail from Aug. 23 to 25. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Ian Mackay of Agnew rides his wheelchair through Robin Hill Farm County Park. Mackay is preparing to host a group ride on the Olympic Discovery Trail from Aug. 23 to 25. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Quadriplegic on the trail: Internationally-known Agnew man organizes group ride

PORT ANGELES — An Agnew man whose mission is to promote accessibility and encourage people to get outside is hosting a three-day group ride traveling the length of the Olympic Discovery Trail later this month.

Ian Mackay, who is paralyzed from the neck down and gained international attention when he rode his wheelchair from Port Angeles to Portland in 2016 and from Coeur d’Alene to Agnew last year, is hosting the “Sea to Sound” group ride Aug. 23-25.

“The reason we’re doing this — besides raising money for the Peninsula Trails Coalition — is to get people outside,” Mackay said. “We have this gem of a piece of infrastructure in our backyard and if we can get people out to experience it that’s a good thing.”

The hope is that the ride will happen annually, calling attention to the progress of the Olympic Discovery Trail and raising funds for the Peninsula Trails Coalition.

Mackay, the founder of Ian’s Ride, is asking for $40 donations to the Peninsula Trails Coalition. With that people will receive swag bags that include T shirts, stickers and maps, he said.

Mackay is also arranging for shuttles to help people get around sections that are not yet complete or are not yet wheelchair friendly.

The ride is for anyone, including cyclists, wheelchairs, horseback riders and foot traffic, he said. People are welcome to join for sections, one day or all three.

The ride starts Aug. 23 at Camp Creek west of Lake Crescent and will continue to the Elwha Bridge; Aug. 24 people will ride from the Elwha Bridge to Diamond Point; and Aug. 25 the ride goes from Diamond Point to Port Townsend.

Shuttles will be available Aug. 23 to help people get around Lake Crescent.

The entire trail from the Elwha Bridge to Diamond Point is wheelchair-accessible, he said, and he looks forward to riding that whole length.

Shuttles also will be available Aug. 25 to help people get from Discovery Bay to Four Corners.

“Trying to get [to Port Townsend] from Discovery Bay along Highway 20, that’s a sketchy piece of road and I’m not encouraging anyone to ride that in a chair or bicycle,” Mackay said.

Mackay is keeping with a tradition he has had on each of his rides and said people are welcome to join him for beer following each day of the ride.

“Each evening we’re encouraging people to come celebrate with us and have a cold one or some food,” he said.

The plan for the first night is to stop at the Bar Hop brewery, 2506 W. 19th St. in Port Angeles.

The second night involves a stop at the Peninsula Taproom, 210 W. Washington St., Suite 4 in Sequim.

The third stop is at the Pourhouse, 2231 Washington St., in Port Townsend.

Jeff Bohman, president of the Peninsula Trails Coalition board, said he is appreciative of Mackay’s efforts to promote the ODT and accessibility.

“Ian is an exceptional individual and he’s been a wonderful supporter of the ODT for years,” Bohman said. “We always enjoy partnering and collaborating with him and supporting him in his various impressive journeys.”

Bohman said that donations would likely support ongoing trail maintenance efforts, but if Mackay has an specific ideas, such as signage or ways to improve conditions for chair users, money could go to support those efforts.

“We’re always open to the preferences of donors and supporters,” Bohman said.

Mackay has been paralyzed from the neck down since a bicycle crash in 2008 and had battled years of depression.

The Olympic Discovery Trail helped Mackay find a way to get back outside again, he said.

He has spent more than 1,000 consecutive days “on the trail,” which he defines as going at least a mile every day.

Mackay lives only a third of a mile from the trail and for him it’s an easy way to commute to Port Angeles and Sequim from his Agnew home.

“It’s a place that I can treat as my office,” Mackay said. “Just to be able to cruise around doing the stuff I would be doing inside is great. It’s a good workplace and it’s spiritually beneficial to be outside and in nature.

“It’s good for the soul.”

Mackay, a consultant for Apple, tests devices and new features while he is on the trail.

He was recently featured in an Apple commercial featuring Apple’s Voice Control feature.

“This technology is going to be game-changing for me,” he said. “Being able to control your entire mobile device by just your voice has been the white whale for a long time. It’s something we’ve all sought after that has been unavailable.”

Mackay is starting to plan his next cross-state wheelchair ride, which will happen next summer.

A friend of his is riding from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and Mackay plans to join in the last state of the journey.

The route hasn’t been decided, but he plans to start in eastern Oregon and end in Astoria, Ore.

“It looks like there will be some serious elevation, it will be over 500 miles,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be hot.”

Mackay also has his sights on another ride sometime in the future that will take him to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo.

He said his “five-year goal” is to ride from the eastern portion of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California to Denver.

“I’m a fan of craft beer,” he said. “It’ll probably take me a month to do it.”

That trip isn’t planned yet.

To register for the ride, visit iansride.com.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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