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Thread: Beach access - Fatsos and Freewheel?

  1. #1

    Beach access - Fatsos and Freewheel?

    I've been hurling myself across the sand and down to the water for as long as I've been injured. I bought some Fatso tires about 10 years ago, thinking that throwing them on to my TiLite X was going to be the answer to all my prayers. Not so much - unless you're tipped back into a wheelie, the casters just sink right right in. With help, this was a very strenuous, semi-solution for getting me, say, from the beach entrance to where our home base was set up and from there down to the water... but not overly practical for moving freely around the sand (even with help, even with help while on the hard packed sand at low tide) - it seemed just as inconvenient to strap on my AFO, grab my crutches and walk to either spot.

    A little over a year ago, I got a Freewheel and was amazed at how easy it was to push over grass, gravel and nicely maintained, hard-packed hiking trails (with and without help). I thought that with some help pushing and a set of knobby tires, getting across the sand would be a breeze. Not so much again - more sinking of the back wheels than I would have imagined. For the friends/family helping with the pushing, I think this was definitely less of an effort than the Fatsos alone, but still not something I'd force someone to push me around in while I could walk by exerting roughly the same energy as said pusher.

    Now i've got another beach vacay coming up (with the same happy-to-help-push friends and family). I'll be bringing the Freewheel regardless, as it's super easy to fly with and zero hassle to take on and off. BUT I'm going back and forth about whether or not to bring the Fatsos as well. they're a pain in the butt to fly with and not convenient to have on the chair ANYWHERE. BUT if the Fatso/Freewheel combo will make getting me across the deep sand somewhat of a minor effort for whoever volunteers to push at any given point and even further if it will make pushing along the hard packed sand down by the water somewhat of a trivial effort for myself and/or most likely my girlfriend, it would surely be worth the inconvenience of bringing the Fatsos along.

    Has anyone tried the Fatso/Freewheel combo on their everyday (or backup) chair to get through/across sand of any depth? If so, any experiences or tips to share or pitfalls to watch out for?

    I'm not at the point where buying (and traveling with) a separate beach chair is enticing enough to be worth the investment, so if this doesn't end up working, I'll be sticking with the AFO and crutches option. Unfortunately, the only thing that wipes me out quicker than sun, sand and water is awkward, poor-formed walking (like form so poor that *any* PT, much less *my* PT would cringe horribly at the sight) through deep sand to get to the sun and the water. Obviously, I'd like to save some energy (and my rotator cuffs) for other things and am hoping the Fatso/Freewheel combo will allow that to happen. First-world, incomplete quad problems... I know. Anyway, please feel free to reply with any wisdom you care to share concerning the matter.

    Cheers!

    *************************************************************
    *** c4/c5 incomplete *** Injured in Summer 2003 ***
    *************************************************************

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    A couple of thoughts:
    - we pack our son’s “Fatso-equivalent-Chinese-copies” in a narrow cardboard box, with heaps of duct-tape (the fabric type) around all the edges and joins (so much so that you can hardly see any cardboard after a few trips!). Take the axle pins out first though! Never had a problem over several flights over several years. Was given the idea by a cyclist when I asked him if he would recommend a bike wheel box for us to purchase.
    - it might be easier for someone to pull you on the sand, rather than push. But you’ll need a tow-rope of some description. And it is hard to get the right balance point to pull from...either making you tip backwards, or the front end digging in.

    Either way, I’d recommend taking them, rather than regretting your decision when you’re there. Good luck!
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  3. #3
    Senior Member djrolling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gordy1 View Post
    A couple of thoughts:
    - we pack our son’s “Fatso-equivalent-Chinese-copies” in a narrow cardboard box, with heaps of duct-tape (the fabric type) around all the edges and joins (so much so that you can hardly see any cardboard after a few trips!). Take the axle pins out first though! Never had a problem over several flights over several years. Was given the idea by a cyclist when I asked him if he would recommend a bike wheel box for us to purchase.
    - it might be easier for someone to pull you on the sand, rather than push. But you’ll need a tow-rope of some description. And it is hard to get the right balance point to pull from...either making you tip backwards, or the front end digging in.

    Either way, I’d recommend taking them, rather than regretting your decision when you’re there. Good luck!
    Okay what are the copies and how do they compare in price?

  4. #4
    What beach you going too? A lot of them have beach chairs available.

  5. #5
    Just wanted to post back that as far as getting across the sand was concerned, the Fatso/Freewheel combo was pretty awesome! I definitely needed a pusher going up anything even slightly inclined and in the deep sand, I'd be impressed to hear of even the strongest of paras make it very far pushing on their own. But, being that I was with a bunch of family and friends who were all pretty eager to get/see me out on the beach, this wasn't an issue at all. At low tide or areas where the sand was more hard packed, minimal effort was required by the pusher. I was even able to get myself short distances on my own. Anyway, it provided for a far better beach experience than expending tons of energy (mine and that of others) just to get to home base and then pretty much being stuck there til it's time to pack up. The combination of the 2 worked exactly as I hoped they would.

    Despite their great performance, I would be remiss in not giving some details surrounding getting to the beach itself. The Fatsos are big, bulky and inconvenient. As Gordy1 mentioned earlier, flying with them requires finding (or "making", as I did) a cardboard box that just about hugs each wheel and duct taping the heck out of it on the outside. For 2 people traveling, even being the human luggage cart that I am, it was a bit much between the wheels, freewheel, luggage, extra bags, etc. It's not by any means impossible... just takes extra time, planning and effort.. like most things SCI.

    The other issue may vary from location to location, but the beach I was at (Outer Banks, NC) couldn't have been set up worse for getting to the sand itself. Their beaches are backed by dunes, which either have boardwalks going over/through to get to the beach or in some cases sandy walkways leading there. Some are flat, but most have an incline and then a decline. Most, whether walkway or boardwalk, involved a step or 3 (or more) here or there either to get to it or somewhere in the middle. I'm sure some of the public beaches have more accessible entrances, but we were where we were. Anyway, the width of the chair with the Fatsos was just about the width of the boardwalk. When the steps came, being blessed with the curse of incompleteness, I would stand and walk up the steps with the help of a railing. Unfortunately, the width of the chair with the Fatsos was too much to fit between the railings, so unless there were 2+ people to lift the chair and Fatsos up and over the railings, it meant taking at least 1 wheel off and dragging it and the 1-wheeled chair through... with me standing & trying to stay out of the way all the while. By the 2nd or 3rd day we got pretty good at it, so it wasn't the end of the world - just something I didn't take into account when envisioning the process.

    I didn't write those last 2 paragraphs to end on a negative note or to recommend against using that setup. But I figured I should give all the details (good and bad) either way.

    All in all, for me, in my situation, in my location, with my peeps, it was absolutely worth it and I will do it again when I go back next year!! I will also probably take them on my next beach vacation with just me and my gf. If I didn't have the ability to stand and climb stairs on my own, I might not be in quite as much favor of lugging the Fatsos around, but as we all know, us gimps always find a way so as long as you're willing to do some problem-solving along the way, I'm sure you'd find something that works.

    Feel free to ask if you have any more detail-oriented questions or whatever and enjoy enjoy your time in the sand!!

    *************************************************************
    *** c4/c5 incomplete *** Injured in Summer 2003 ***
    *************************************************************

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by baldfatdad View Post
    What beach you going too? A lot of them have beach chairs available.
    And just to address this point, the Outer Banks (OBX) specifically does have quite a few places that rent "beach wheelchairs". From what I saw while there, they are all that 1 model made of PVC with 3 bigger, puffy tires. I rented one similar to that in Hawaii about a decade ago that was very difficult for my gf at the time to push and 100% impossible to push on my own. I'm sure they've made some advances since then, but I was glad to have my own rig with me and will probably stick with it for the time being. In OBX, these were around $200/wk to rent - looked like they'd drop them off anywhere you were staying. I also found 1 shop that had a power beach chair. Looked like a regular power chair only sitting on top of 4 big wheels, rather than 2 smaller wheels and 2 tiny casters. I would have liked to try this for a couple days just to try it, but where we were staying, with the steps and whatnot, it would have been impossible to store it anywhere safe overnight, nor come and go from the beach easily, so at $100/day, I decided against it... maybe just for a day next time.

    I hope that's helpful for anyone looking for OBX-specific info. As always, feel free to send any questions my way.

    *************************************************************
    *** c4/c5 incomplete *** Injured in Summer 2003 ***
    *************************************************************

  7. #7
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    I know I'm late on this since you've already been (and I've only driven to the beach, not flown), but for anyone else's benefit I take an extra pair of wheels with 2.5" knobby tires with me to the beach, as well as my freewheel. I then let a good bit of air out of the tires, including the freewheel, which makes them even wider and helps a lot getting through the sand. With Surge handrims on my knobby tire wheels as well, I can push myself (T6) through just about any sand as long as its flat. I always have to have help getting back up any hills to the car though. I also keep a large black garbage back to put my wheels in to keep sand from getting all in the car, then put my everyday wheels/tires back on for the hotel, etc. Being able move myself around in my own chair is far superior than renting a beach wheelchair with no handrims.

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