Public - Active 2 weeks ago
My Handcycle Story
I’m a 39-year-old T4-T5 paraplegic who took up handcycling shortly after a snowboarding accident in 2006. My initial handcycle was a more upright standard Top End model, but after completing a marathon and participating in a few Kelly Brush Century Rides (typically sticking to the 20-miler), I applied for a grant to upgrade to the Top End Force RX. This new handcycle not only improved my riding due to its different and more efficient positioning but also had an amazing, sleek appearance that turned heads. Handcycling holds a special place in my heart because it allows me to leave from my home, use less traveled roads and bike paths, and put together a fantastic workout while exploring my hometown, South Burlington. Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned my handcycle, constantly tweaking components to suit my riding style. I’ve stuck with the Top End Force RX but moved to a 1x 42-tooth crank to simplify gear changes, and I now use a 48-tooth 11-speed cassette for versatility. I’ve also relocated my shifters from the handcrank to avoid interference with gear and brake lines, following my philosophy of keeping things as simple as possible. To track my progress, I rely on an Element Bolt and Strava, and for apparel, I prefer a jersey (long or short-sleeved) and bike shorts equipped with a convenient cargo pocket to carry essentials like my cell phone. Since I began handcycling shortly after my injury, I’ve completed a dozen marathons and even secured victory at the Vermont City Marathon multiple times. However, my all-time favorite ride is the Kelly Brush Ride in September, held in Middlebury, Vermont, on one of the most breathtaking routes in New England. The enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s a joy to connect with fellow para and quad riders year after year.
If you have any questions about my specific equipment, please reach out!
Super cool to read how you have grown in the sport and what equipment you use. Biking has always been an important part of my life and my favorite way to get a good workout. After my injury I was shocked how difficult handcycling was but also grateful to find an intense way to be able to get my heart rate up again. I’ve gradually been getting more into handcycling over the last 3 years. Last summer I attempted the 16 mile course at National Ability Center’s Summit Challenge and wasn’t able to finish. This year I was determined for redemption. In the spring, I rented a handcycle from Wasatch Adaptive Sports and began to build up my miles. In April I competed in the Salt Lake City Marathon and in August completed the Summit Challenge 16 miles! It felt good to finish both races. Aside from the satisfaction of completing a hard handcycle ride, I also cherish the friendships and connections I’ve made through this sport. Two years ago I attended Wasatch Adaptive Sport’s ladies ride, met some of my best friends still to this day, and got a job instructing for Wasatch Adaptive Sports. We have continued to host weekly ladies rides and it has been incredible to see the group bond over their love for being active and to find a place where they don’t feel so different. Biking is the best!
It has been a great few years with the help from your organization . I have got into a few bike races done well and also have been actively riding the hand cycle and getting healthier.
That is so cool! I used to be an avid cyclist, and hope to also get a grant someday for a hand cycle. I can’t wait to get back out there and feel the wind against my face and the sun on my skin! I’m sure you’d agree — there’s nothing like it 🙂
I used to love getting my hands covered in grease, working on fixing bikes. But it sounds like there’s a lot for me to learn about hand cycles.
That’s absolutely incredible what you’ve accomplished. Thank you so much for sharing!
@determinedsurvivor, I didn’t mine the grease, but now that I wax my chain, I love not getting my hands, clothes, and tools all covered grease. If you worked on your bike, you probably know all you need to know about handcycles. It’s just flipped upside down (the bottom bracket is on the top, etc.). Hope you get on a HC sooner than later.
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