26 Mile Marathon on 1999 Freedom Ryder Hand-cycle

At the beginning of December I experience my first 26 mile hand-cycle marathon in West Palm Beach. In life we use what we’ve got, and I’ve got an old 1999 Freedom Ryder hand-cycle. It’s the first handbike I’ve ever owned and it’s never had any problems. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Freedom Ryder hand-cycle, but I’d also love to retire her for a new one! Twelve years after purchasing the Freedom Ryder it’s yet to break, so I highly recommend this hand-cycle.

My game plan going into the race was to draft behind 1 or 2 of the quickest riders. If done correctly, drafting allows a person to exert less energy than the rider in front of them, while still maintaining the same speed as them. Two packs of riders pulled away from the mass quickly as the race started at 6:15am. The first pack consisted of the top 3 riders, all males. These guys were beyond fast. These guys were sonic the hedgehog fast. They were gone from the start and never seen again. The second pack consisted of 3 riders, 2 males and 1 female. As I tucked in behind this pack of 3, I thought to myself, “surely I can keep up with this girl, she must weigh 105 lbs max!”… Well, as we rounded the 3rd mile I was feeling good, still high on all the energy supplements I’d ingested 15 minutes earlier. But as we rounded the 5th mile I began to feel tired and winded. As my 3 draftees began to slowly pull away it became more and more apparent that 1) the remainder of this race would be a solo mission, and 2) I seriously underestimated the badass 105 lb young lady in front of me…

The next 20+ miles, or 1.5 hours, would be spent riding alone. In the end, my final time was 1 hour 51 minutes, and I placed 8th. My goal was to finish in less than 2 hours, so I was happy about that. I was also extremely excited about the fact that my 12 year old hand-cycle didn’t fall apart!

The next hand-cycle marathon is at the end of January in Miami, Florida. There’ll be many more riders, but I plan on racing myself this time. Hopefully I can beat my recent time of 1:51.

Almost forgot.. This coming April is the 2012 “MS 150” in Miami, FL. It’s a 2 day 150 mile bike ride (not a race!) from Miami Homestead Speedway to Key Largo and back. First day is 75 miles to Key Largo, and the 2nd day is 75 miles back to Miami. Last year I attempted the 150 mile ride and came up short, only able to complete the 75 miles of day one. At the end of day I was too exhausted to wake up the next morning and ride 75 miles back to Miami. Although 75 miles on a handcycle is decent, the drive home to West Palm Beach felt like a defeat. Therefore, this coming April I plan on completing the entire 150 mile ride. The team, “HowiRoll” has already been formed. I have multiple people who’ve given a verbal commitment for the ride in April. I encourage anyone and everyone to join the “HowiRoll” team if your located in South Florida. To join the team and/or make a donation to MS in the name of the “HowiRoll” team CLICK HERE. I encourage everyone to challenge themselves and join the ride!

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Showing 6 comments
  • arno

    Haha! So you thought you could keep up with the thin lady! Sometimes things don’t come as you would have wanted. However, 1 h 51 min is really fast and maybe a personal record?
    Good to encourage people to join! Wish i was living nearby…
    How was your skiing trip?

  • Jacob

    Arno, Yes this was a personal best time for me. If you were here we would love you to join us for the MS ride. This year I plan on having 20+ people on the “HowiRoll” Team. The ski trip had beautiful weather with sunny blue skies, but there wasn’t very much snow, so only 50% of the mountain was open. I hope to make it back to the mountains 1 more time before winter ends. I recorded some video while on the mountain. Hopefully I’ll have it posted within the next few days.

    I hope all is well friend.


    • Graham

      Congrats on the WPB Marathon, are you also planning to handcycle in the PVA Championships in Melbourne FL?



      • Jacob

        Hey Graham,

        Thanks. No, I won’t be racing in the Melbourne Marathon. Instead I’m racing in the Miami ING Marathon on 1/29/12. I took a look at your website. Pretty Cool!

  • Graham

    If you ever make it out to the west coast let us know. We do group rides in San Diego each Thursday.

    Good luck with training!

  • Mike

    Jacob that’s way cool your doing the MS 150 I will be there also. Found you through sponsorist I train cyclists for doing century rides for Team in Training to help raise money for blood cancers. If you need help training let me know would love to offer any help I can. I have coached tandems, unicycles but never a hand cycle. Dont know if I can help but just love the sport. I saw 5 people in a hand cycle in Tuscon when we did the tour de Tuscon century. Was totally blown away by the heart that they had. I love that you are living life!!

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