Attempted 150 Mile “MS 150” On 1999 Freedom Ryder Hand-Cycle (Video)

75 Miles: Miami, FL to Key Largo on a Hand-Cycle…

Last weekend I participated in the “MS 150”. It was a 2 day 150 mile (75/day) bike ride in South Florida, from Miami Homestead Speedway to Key Largo on May 14-15.  The ride was put together by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which raises money for an important cause.

For the sake of a good challenge, I decided to dust off my old Freedom Ryder hand-cycle and commit to the ride.  I purchased my handcycle shortly after becoming paralyzed in January 1999. Surprisingly, my hand-bike rides well, aside from the fact that it’s 12+ years old, purple, and weighs similar to a tank. So why not assume I could ride the hand-cycle 150 miles in 2 days?!  I approached this ride entirely solo, without anyone biking with me. Basically, that’s because my friend’s are soft (you know who you are). 

I planned on training 8 weeks leading up to the ride… Well, things don’t always go the way we “plan”.  Sporadically I started a research study at The Miami Project around the same time my training began.  I hadn’t put in as much work as I’d planned.  The longest ride I had taken during training was 40 miles, and not once did I train for a 2 day ride.  

The ride started sharp at 7:00AM, which is about when I pulled into the Homestead-Miami Speedway parking lot.  That’s when I realized there would be 1,500+ riders. Of all the riders I didn’t see a single hand-bike, other than mine of course… After assembling my classic 1999 Freedom Ryder hand-cycle I had just enough time to start at the back of the bunch. 

The ride began… We took 1 lap around Miami-Homestead Speedway racetrack to start, then out to the main roads.  After about 15 miles my left leg started to go numb, which became an issue for the remainder of the day.  I was cruising at first, averaging around 16.5 miles/hour the first 90 minutes.  The problem was, I passed the first 3-4 rest-stops, which in the long-run turned out to be a bad idea.    At around 30-40 miles I started to fatigue rapidly. I stopped for food/water at 35 miles, as well as 50 miles.  I almost threw in the towel at the 50 mile rest-stop, due to a slight case of heat exhaustion.  At around 60 miles we had to scale up the Card Sound Bridge, which in my opinion was a moster of a bridge.  But thanks to a helpful cyclist I received coaching and support throughout the climb up. Thanks Alex, you da man!

The last 25 miles were extremely difficult due to muscle fatigue, not to mention the direct headwinds coming off the ocean.   

In total I rode the entire 75 miles on Day 1, which took just over 6 hours. I’d like to tell you how I woke up the next morning and crushed another 75 miles on day 2…. But that’s not what happened. What happened is, I was in baaaaaad shape after day 1, so I decided not to ride day 2. 

So in the end, I wasn’t completely successful. I didn’t complete the entire 150 miles like I assumed I could/would..  Although, I’m still proud of myself for completing all 75 miles the first day.  Next year I’d like to come back with a new handcycle and finish both days. Finish or not, I’ll be back to give it a try.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Digital Gold

    75 by hand cycle is just awesome! Congrats Jacob 🙂

  • wendy

    Jacob, Congratulations, 75 miles in one day is incredible and impressive!

  • Jeff Ehmann

    Jacob, I remember getting off the plane in Brevard from NY back in my work travel days, and simply melting from the humidity change. This was when I was bi pedal and running four miles a day. Humidity sucks and saps energy.

    I remember one of your earlier video posts about transferring and having additional weight on. I took that to heart and lost 30 lbs. With the weight loss I’m able to do some many other things and easily.

    What I’m trying to say is, and you said it in your post, preparation and training. You now know better for next year.

    • Adele

      I am so proud of you!

    • Jacob

      Jeff, You’re so right about the humidity, it’s baaaaad this time of year! I’m still trying to figure out why they plan the race during summer. Hey man good for you cutting 30 lbs. I bet that makes a night and day difference in the wheelchair.

      Regarding the 150 mile bike ride, I def know better for next year dude.. I seriously underestimated the exhaustion I’d have after 6 hours on a handcrank! And i absolutely know better for next year. Figure I’ll come back next year for sure and give it another go.

      Rock on brother.


  • Dave and Karon

    Hey Man:
    We were SAG and met you at the last rest stop. We are very glad to have had the opportunity to have met you and now seen your video. You and many of the others on that ride are an incredible inspiration on so many levels.
    Best Regards to you and your justifiably proud parents;

    Dave and Karon

    • Jacob

      Dave and Karon,

      Thank you for the kind words. And thank you for volunteering for sucH a great cause! I will absolutely see you out there next year!

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