Devon Raney, perhaps Bainbridge Island’s most famous “working-class American adventurer,” has authored a new memoir, “Still Sideways: Riding the Edge Again after Losing My Sight,” available now in print and audiobook versions from Patagonia.
It is reportedly the first Patagonia book to have a simultaneous audio and print release.
Raney, who, along with his wife Rebecca, owns YES Please! Coffee, spent a decade as a construction project manager before starting his own homebuilding company in 2007. A year later, in September 2008, he hit his head on the hard sand bottom while surfing in Northern Oregon and lost 85 percent of his eyesight as a result of a genetic disorder triggered by the trauma.
Before the accident, then-33-year-old Raney had already lived an exemplary life, again and again going against the grain and what is expected to maximize time for his passions — surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding — refusing to forgo what made him happy. It was a choice that brought him into the direct path of colorful characters, unexpected adventures, and even the occasional brush with death.
Through it all, his commitment to outdoor adventure never wavered. If anything, he learned to approach the other commitments he would make in life ― as a husband and as a father, especially — with the same passion and dedication he’d applied to board sports.
So, when facing the potentially devastating challenge of his new condition, Raney once again went against the grain — sideways.
Instead of retreating into a life made smaller by the things he could no longer do, Raney resolved to keep his commitments to the same passions that had defined and sustained him.
Using his remaining peripheral vision, he developed a style of tandem snowboarding, figured out how to read the waves, and carried himself through his daily life in such a way that few people other than his close friends and family were aware of his vision loss.
His celebrated 2013 75-day tandem bicycle trip from Bainbridge Island to Tijuana, Mexico was reported by the Review, and his new memoir, featuring stories and lessons learned from both before and after his accident, makes the case for the sustaining power of nature for a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts: “the late Gen X / early millennial generation that has one foot firmly in adulthood and the other foot buckled into a binding.”
“Those who cross paths with Devon can’t help but feel his open display of tenacity and deep gratitude for the gift of this life,” said Gwyn Howat, Mount Baker Ski Area chief executive officer. “While I have felt these as Devon’s cornerstones during the transformation of his physical world, I have also witnessed him navigate the wilderness of self knowledge and growth with the raw resiliency and pure bravery of a warrior. A reluctant warrior at times, but a warrior nonetheless.
“It’s an honor to know the strength of people such as Devon, Rebecca and [their daughter] Madrona because they are the very people who make this world a better place.”