In 2001, after knee surgery, Dick Traum came to realize that using a handcycle is a fantastic way to get people who have suffered injury back into exercise, independence and sports. In 2004, Achilles presented the idea of handcycling to wounded veterans who lost limbs in conflicts and the program became the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans. A long-standing relationship with military hospitals ensued. We were able to offer wounded military personnel a seemingly "impossible" goal of completing marathons because they could use a handcycle. It was a sure-fire way to reignite their passion for achievement and their competitive spirits!
Today many marathons welcome the use of handcycles although all limit capacity in order to ensure a safe experience for all participants. The New York City Marathon has been hosting the largest field of handcycles worldwide for many years and the Los Angeles Marathon also welcomes a large handcycle division. Handcycles and Pushrim Wheelchairs are distinct and separate divisions which share the marathon course. This is an important distinction to make since pushrim wheelchair athletes do not have the advantage of gears which handcyclists do.
Handcycles cost upwards of $3,800 and many Achilles chapters have handcycles which people can take for a practice ride before committing to purchase their own. Contact the Chapter nearest you and ask if that is the case.
Should you be interested in learning more about handcycles, please email Joe Traum, Director of Operations and Wheelchair Logistics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommended Procedure When Traveling With Your Handcycle
Traveling with a handcycle could be one of the most nerve-wracking things to do. Will my handcycle show up the way I put it on the plane? Will the middle man who doesn't realize how much a handcycle costs or just how much it means to you, push, pull or throw it into the cargo hold?
These are some helpful tips that will help your handcycle get to your destination without damage.
1. Deflate your tires so they don't blow out with the air pressure on a plane.
2. Remove your rear wheels and hold onto your axles.
3. If you do not have a wheel bag you can place your wheels in the seat.
4. bungee or zip tie your handles to the seat so they don't rotate and get damaged.
5. Bubble wrap your cranks, shifter, and derailleurs.
6. For a little extra peace of mind you can put a packing plastic wrap to hold everything together.
7. Refer to the handcycle as "sports wheelchair equipment" at the ticket counter.
Helpful Links follow:
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Toll Free DOT Hotline for Air Travelers with Disabilities
Barrier-Free Travel is another great resource on handcycle air travel (see the section "Excess Baggage or Assistive Device?