Photo: Embry Rucker
Jeremy McGhee is a trail runner at heart but says he missed his calling.
When Jeremy was 25 years old, a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from his tenth thoracic vertebra (mid-abdomen) down. He can’t walk or run, but he can mountain bike.
“If I wasn’t in a wheelchair, I’d probably be one of those ultra marathon runners,” Jeremy says. “But the cool thing about this bike is it’s how I do that. It’s how I get out on the trail and go for a run.”
Making It Work
Jeremy lives in Cardiff, Calif., largely because he can access his two favorite things easily from there: mountain biking and surfing. In a short drive from his house, he can be at a Southern California beach or at the trails of Los Peñasquitos Canyon. He also spends several weeks a year navigating the terrain at Mammoth Mountain.
Catchin' a wave. Photo: Minaret Photography
“The major emotional issue I deal with on a daily basis is feeling claustrophobic,” Jeremy says. “You can’t just get up and go. Everything involves big equipment, straps and stuff. Being out in nature and feeling small is how I deal with that emotion.”
A big part of Jeremy’s life is minimizing steps so that he can spend more time doing what he loves and less time getting ready for it. Jeremy is a self-proclaimed Merino wool purist because of its ability to wick moisture and avoid smell. He loves the Aspect Base Layer and often wears the Ridge Merino Journey Tee since it can be worn on the trail, on the mountain, to the bar, and then to bed.
“It minimizes the transition,” he says.
Relaxing after a ride in his Ridge Merino wool base layer. Photo: Christina Fernandez
An Evolving Career
After spending years promoting himself as an adaptive multi-sport adventure athlete, Jeremy is shifting his career, while still focusing on the sports he loves so much.
“I’m basically retired from promoting myself as an athlete,” Jeremy says. “Now the focus is on something that’s way bigger than me. It’s really interesting for the first time in my life to have a clear focus, direction and purpose. I’m waking up all stoked and getting amped on working 12-16 hour days documenting and promoting trails.”
That direction and purpose for Jeremy is working with Trailforks as an ambassador building up their adaptive mountain bike trail information. Trailforks will be the first mountain bike trail platform in the market with adaptive information. They’re working together on a system that’s uniform, starting with Jeremy’s home trails at Los Peñasquitos Canyon. The next step is to pull in more adaptive athlete ambassadors and have multiple people like Jeremy documenting trails as they ride.
Jeremy hits the trails in his Ridge Merino wool Journey Tee. Photo: Austin Novy
When he’s not mapping trails for Trailforks, mountain biking for fun or logging hours surfing, Jeremy also speaks at events across the U.S. He toured around the country after the release of Drop In, a documentary about his journey to the top of Bloody Couloir in California’s Sierra Nevada. You can also catch Jeremy speaking on the TEDx stage. He now speaks mostly at corporate events.
“It’s about mastering the mundane and getting motivated,” Jeremy says. “We all have our biggest disability -- being human.”
Now in his 40s, Jeremy is a realist about what he’s able to do, and he always pushes those he interacts with to make the most of their lives.
“Don’t be one of those people who says they’re going to do all those things and never does them,” Jeremy says. “Tomorrow may never come. Everything in life takes work. If what you want in life is easily achieved, maybe it’s time to re-think it.”
Photo: Minaret Photography