GREAT BARRINGTON — In the back of the shop, at the center of all the equipment and parts, Jake the dog looks on as a Polaris side-by-side — known as an SXS — is modified and tricked out for an upcoming test run in the California desert.
It's the center of gravity at Treyson Racin' Powersports Accessories and Parts now, during the slow season, because it's what will get owner Trevor Cobb back into doing what he loves after a dirt bike accident in the desert almost a year ago left him without the use of his legs.
But now, he's quickly gaining some movement and strength. And he is all signed up for the pro SXS racing series starting in April.
"The one thing I've learned is that mindset and attitude are everything," said Cobb, 31, as he showed off modifications to the SXS. "The outlook predetermines how you're going to recover. I've got to jump right back in."
It was Feb. 26, 2019, when Cobb flipped over the handlebars when he tried to wheelie over a washed-out single track near Palm Springs, Calif., while at his annual training for the off-road racing season. He previously had finished fifth out of 300 riders in the N.Y. Off Road series.
After surgery to stabilize two broken vertebrae, and recovery from seven broken ribs and a punctured left lung, Cobb spent two months in California, where his father took care of him.
Now, he's on a mission to walk and race again. But, he's also bursting to motivate others with spinal cord injuries, and help make life easier for the disabled.
He asked last month to be appointed to the town's newly established Disability Commission. Cobb, who lives in Sheffield, says he now understands how old infrastructure in the Berkshires affects the disabled. He's had to modify his home and shop.
Others seek him out now. He's working with officials at Berkshire Health Systems on a possible plan to regularly speak to staff and patients about his experience and rehabilitation. On social media, he is a star guiding those with spinal injuries as he works with a movement specialist and increasingly gains strength.
And he has a "rough" business plan sketched out to improve rehab equipment that he says is subpar and isn't always covered by insurance or takes months for approval.
"With injuries like this, timing is everything," he said. "We have tools and welders here. The walkers are flimsy — so, we're reinforcing them," he added, pointing to a cluster of equipment.
And Cobb not only has a business to run, but also does electrical work with his father in winter.
'I want to feel'
Cobb is sitting next to one of his passions — he explains how the SXS already has been retrofitted exclusively with hand brakes and a special door. The roll cage was customized. He'll join one of the races, in Texas in April, after he trains in California this month.
"I'm stubborn," he said, giving Jake a treat. "With something like this, it's helping. You've got to shoot for the stars."
Initially, doctors said that 5 to 8 percent of people with his injury would walk again.
For him, it's 100 percent, he said. And not only that, but, looking at the KTM 450 dirt bike he crashed in the desert, he said he'll also do motocross again. Maybe not on that same bike, he says, smiling.
Nearby, Matt Robson, a friend and co-worker, works on pipe for a custom side bumper for the SXS.
"He's always been like that," said Robson, who closed up his race car fabrication/prep shop in Connecticut to work with Cobb and keep his business going after the accident. "So, you can't really stop him. You really can't tell him, `No.'"
To walk again, Cobb works five days a week at both Berkshire Health Systems in Pittsfield and with movement specialist Antoine Alston at the Alston Center in Great Barrington.
He shuns medications that treat spasms or discomfort, and weaned himself off pain medication early on.
"I want to feel — I want to feel as much as I can — I want to walk," he said, noting the pins-and-needles feeling in his legs.
Alston says he's convinced Cobb will walk by summer. It helps that since 2009, Cobb trained with him for motocross. The two have grown close, and Alston said this bond is part of the healing.
'Spinal injuries are the hardest'
Cobb is lying on a table while Alston works his method. Alston is known as more of a healer to his clients, and to the physicians who, failing other treatments, send patients to him. And doctors who see Cobb's progress in his Facebook posts are contacting Alston.
"The spinal injuries are the hardest," Alston said. "The spine is your lifeline."
Cobb moves his left leg, but then has trouble moving his right due to some overall asymmetry from long hours working on the SXS, Alston says. But soon some right leg movement comes.
"He's also taught me," Alston said. "And he's helped every other client and patient I have. I'm better because of Trevor."
Cobb is aggravated by the steel rods inside him that limit his movement and his healing, he says. But, no doctor in the U.S. will remove those.
"The rods are the biggest hurdle," he said. "My whole rib cage is locked."
Yet Cobb says he never despairs. Hasn't once yet. That flight over the handlebars attuned him to some parts of life he hadn't yet noticed.
"The things you never thought about before," he said. "I don't regret this."
Heather Bellow can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.