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Thread: Handcycling

  1. #1

    Handcycling

    Seven Wonders of Handcycling
    Defining great reasons to start spinning!
    by Laurie Rappl , PT
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have been a recreational handcyclist for two years. Much is written about the elite athletes, and the mega-long-distance riders, but most of us are just your three-or-four-times-a-week-a-few-miles-a-day type of rider. And I think handcycling is a perfect recreational sport for the average person looking to stay in shape, have some fun, and meet some new people.

    My favorite things about handcycling include the following:

    It's outside.
    I love the outdoors. I spend all day indoors at work, or escaping the heat of South Carolina in the summer. Handcycling is a fun way to get outdoors, whether you have someone with you or not. You can do it in the cool of the morning or evening, with a group or by yourself.


    I've lost weight and feel better.
    Who doesn't want to do that? Since I've added regular handcycling to my weekly routine, I've lost weight and toned my body. I feel better and look better. Even if you don't want to lose weight, toned muscles look so much better than flabby ones.


    The speed option.
    Ah, the wind in my hair and the breeze at my back. I enjoy anything that gets me moving faster than I do everyday in my manual wheelchair. And the less effort the better! Kayaking, downhill skiing, water skiing. For me, sports has to be very different from everyday movement - and handcycling fills the bill. On flat terrain you can blast with very little effort using the gears on the bike. Downhill requires even less effort. Yes, uphill can be a struggle, but the feeling of the downhill afterward is worth it!


    The slow option.
    Sometimes I like to take it easy, just drift along and look at plants and houses and things in the world. On a handcycle you can go as fast or as slow as you want.


    It's great exercise.
    If you haven't exercised in a while other than using your wheelchair - and even if you have - handcycling will wake up muscles you forgot you had.
    Turning the crank is a repetitive motion at about chest height that works all of your body. You don't realize it until you get moving. Pedaling obviously involves your back, shoulders and arms. You use your neck and trunk muscles to stabilize your body on the seat, and some models require trunk motion to turn the bike. Because the pedaling motion is a push/pull, your trunk muscles do much more than isometrics (where the muscle contracts and the body doesn't move, like when a gymnast on the rings or a figure skater holds a position). My abdominals contract and relax rhythmically with the pedaling motion.

    With old friends, new friends, or alone.
    You can handcycle alone, if that's your mood. Or you can cycle with friends or loved ones. It's a sport that crosses the barrier of the impediment of the wheelchair.
    It's a fun thing to talk about with people. "I bike a lot" "You bike?!? How do you do that?!? Wow, that's neat!" Suddenly you're not an unusual person in a wheelchair; you're an athlete.

    The cycling people I've met are great! They're energetic; they're into the outdoors and feeling good and enjoying life.

    It's healthy!
    My circulation improves when I cycle. The swelling in my legs goes down dramatically. And since my legs are stuck straight out in front of me on the bike, I feel like I re-acquaint myself with my feet. Also, my, ummm, shall I say - ability to eliminate waste products - is so much easier when I cycle regularly!
    Go for it! Try one! Most owners will be glad to share their bike if you want to try one out. You have nothing to lose, and absolutely everything to gain! Then buy your own handcycle and get spinning!




    Laurie Rappl, PT, is clinical support manager for Span-America Medical Systems Inc., Greenville, S.C. She is active with the American Physical Therapy Association. She's also a presenter at APTA conferences as well as other meetings where she focuses on pressure ulcer prevention and other seating issues.



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  2. #2
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
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    thanks Curt, I just found this. I was going to spout a huge spiel on how great it is, but this pretty much says it all.

    I've been out everyday minimum 90 minutes per ride for the last week since I got my FRH-1. It is the most liberating thing I have done since my accident 20 months ago.

    I grin from ear to ear. at light speed on flats, struggling up inclines, trekking through a grassy field. I have so much more energy now. I weight train for 2-3 hours 3 times a week and ride in the evening plus quad rugby 2x a week. Most nights I'm up til 11 or 12 and back up at 7 to do it all over again. All bladder/bowel/emotional issues have faded away.

    The best part about handcycling - no one looks at me like "look at the poor guy in the wheelchair". I am that crazy motherfucker pushing hard on the weird looking contraption. Girls all smile, kids chase after me and tell me how cool I am, guys just look envious. I won't feel disabled until I crash the thing in the bushes. Then it's low enough I'll get back on and do it again.

    WHEELCHAIR SPORTS HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE. Thank all you guys that stay here to post about your exploits. Mr.Squires, Mr.Madsen, Mr.Leatherbee, Mr.Pruett, my395, arndog, etc. You made my life worth living again. Can't even put it in words how much I look up and appreciate you guys.

  3. #3
    Good for you Curt and Tooley. It sounds exhilarating.

  4. #4
    For me, it's going on 35 years of handcycling. First one was handmade and had probably every model of Top End up to the G's and a couple of Freedom Ryders. There wasn't any manufactuers when I first started and was kind of shunned, to put it mildly, by the wheelchair racers for bringing a geared vehicle to show them.

    When my shoulders first started to go, my first questions to the doc was "can I still handcycle." It's that important too me.
    I don't do the long distances anymore, but I still do at least 35 miles a week; a little slower but still at it. I can't say how many times I just blurt out to myself " Thankyou Lord for allowing to still ride the bike". As laurie says, just tooling down the road seeing the flowers grow and smelling the air. I've seen puppies that chased me as young pups, grow into old dogs that just looked up when I rode by to being replaced by new puppies that grew old and replaced.

    I agree with Tooley and the rest, w/c sports and esp. handcycling, gave my life back to me. I trust you younguns will carry on the tradition and make sure the newbies enjoy the experience we all feel riding down the road, out of the chair and enjoying life.

    Thankyou for saying that Tooley; it really means a lot to me thinking that I may have made a difference.
    Last edited by Patrick Madsen; 04-28-2011 at 01:31 AM.

  5. #5
    Im not sure if it's been asked, but how do these handcycles handle rougher terrain? I really want to get one, but the roads around here arent that great, and lots of my cycling could be down grid roads.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    T12/L2 Complete - Nov. 12, 2007



  6. #6
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
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    http://lashersport.com/products-ath.html

    check out the videos on this page.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by tooley View Post
    http://lashersport.com/products-ath.html

    check out the videos on this page.

    Thanks!
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    T12/L2 Complete - Nov. 12, 2007



  8. #8
    Thanks for the good words Tooley. Handcycling has been a great addition to my life since 1997 and has really helped me keep my sanity and stay in better shape and enjoy life a little more.
    "Life is about how you
    respond to not only the
    challenges you're dealt but
    the challenges you seek...If
    you have no goals, no
    mountains to climb, your
    soul dies".~Liz Fordred

  9. #9
    Senior Member tooley's Avatar
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    Just can't express it. Made life worth living, it's the ultimate stress-reliever. I don't have to listen anyone except the birds and the wind in the trees. Gone longer, farther than I could have dreamt. A fitting name to be sure - Freedom Ryder.

  10. #10
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
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    I ordered my first handcycle before I had even got a wheelchair, still was in a hospital loaner at the time. only thing more freeing from a wheelchair was sitskiing.

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