There’s just something about stabbing the throttle and your vehicle jumping to life. It’s an adrenaline rush when you mash the gas pedal or throttle and your side-by-side or ATV goes.
Most of us don’t give it a second thought when we press down on the gas … with our foot.
Dave Bower thinks about it. Probably just about every single time he carefully climbs into his new Can-Am Maverick Trail side-by-side. Or previous to his Maverick Trail, he thought about it every time he eased on to one of his myriad of ATVs.
That’s because Bower is a bilateral amputee. His right leg was amputated below the hip and the left leg above the knee. When he was just 19 years old (he is now 69, going on 70), Bower slipped in snowy conditions under the wheels of a rail car in Idaho in 1969. When he first slipped, the rail car’s wheels “took my right leg off immediately,” he explained. “It pulled me down the track a little ways and then my left leg caught on something, maybe part of the track, and took my left leg off. I lay there about a half hour before someone came to help me.”
He then spent weeks in a local hospital and then nine months in a Boston rehab facility where he was fitted with prosthetic legs. “It was a whole new ballgame using the prosthesis,” he said. “My left leg is my workhorse and the right one is my trailer.”
After learning to use his new legs, he said, “I came back home [to Idaho]. That’s when the trials began.”
He struggled to find work, going from job to job for a few years. He married in 1973 and eventually decided to go on Social Security disability when he couldn’t get long term work. He and his wife Lynette moved to Georgetown, ID, in 1975 and have lived there ever since.
Years Of Ownership
Bower has owned and ridden a number of ATVs over all those years. Some of those vehicles included a Yamaha 80 ATV (his first ATV), Yamaha Big Bear, an Action Age Scrambler 6 wheeler, Honda Odyssey, a couple of ARGOs (both a 6-wheeler and 8-wheeler) and two Honda TRX 300s, which he still owns.
He used all manner of devices and means to operate his ATVs, many of which had foot clutches he had to figure out how to use. He does have some movement on his left side so he could shift the Yamahas, but “I do remember reaching down with my hand sometimes to shift.” On his TRX he designed a half-inch piece of pipe three feet long that he welded right on the side of the foot shifter so he could use it to shift with his hand. However, he said, that didn’t always work well as he had trouble with it stripping out the spline. He came up with a new design that works well. His Odyssey and ARGOs were hand operated so that helped.
In May of this year, Bower bought his first side-by-side, the Maverick Trail. “I kind of wondered at my age about buying one of these things,” he said, pointing to his Maverick Trail.
Choosing the Maverick Trail was by design, he said. “I definitely got the 50-inch on purpose,” Bower said. “I live a mile from the forest and there are width restrictions.” He said he thought about buying a Honda Pioneer (the 500 is also a 50-inch model) but in the end he chose the Maverick Trail. “I read a lot of reviews about it and decided on the Trail.”