IBXO helps victim get back in the saddle

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Liane Harsh (left), owner of Inner Banks Outfitters, helps George Perkins ride his newly retrofitted bike for the first time. Kathy Nichols stands nearby to help with any stability issues. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

After suffering a stroke more than three years ago, George Perkins’ daily workouts consisted of a lovely ride on a stationery bike at his Chocowinity home. Thanks to the work of one local business, he will be stationery no more.
Perkins told his wife, Kathy Nichols, that he would love to get out and ride a bike with her. But, the stroke had affected Perkins’ mobility.
“He could walk, but he has little use of his right hand and arm,” Nichols said. “But this is less of a story about George and more of a story about Liane at Inner Banks Outfitters.”
When Nichols, an avid cyclist, bought a new bike, she asked Inner Banks Outfitters Owner Liane Harsh if she could retrofit her old 21-speed bike.
“She wanted to know if I could put training wheels on a bike for her husband because he had trouble with balancing,” Harsh said. “The key was to see if he could get on the bike and pedal, which he did.”
Harsh described the project as a puzzle that she was more than happy to solve. She found the adult training wheels through one of her distributors then found a way to convert Nichols’ old bike into something Perkins could use. The process involved changing the 21-speed into a one-speed bike and adjusting the handlebars to make the bike easier for Perkins to use with his weakened right side.
Harsh said the very last step was the hardest. She had to adjust the bike chain to get it to fit around the new wheels.
“It was total luck, in the end, that the chain worked,” Harsh said.
Hours of work paid off when Harsh watched Perkins test the bike Sunday.
“It was amazing. He’s a really sweet guy,” she said. “It was very moving to see (the couple) working together.”
Nichols said Harsh had to jump through a lot of hoops to get the back wheels for the bike.
“She went out of her way to help us,” Nichols said.
The couple had originally planned to go to a bigger store for the retrofit.
“I’m not sure we would’ve gotten the same sort of service if we had. She’s got sort of a little gem of a business there,” Nichols said.
Since picking up the bike Sunday, Nichols and Perkins have been taking daily bike rides in their neighborhood.