Wheelchair Paraplegic Adaptive Sports: Hand-Cycle Ride Around Palm Beach (video)

Life is full of choices… Today, I choose to ride.

Other than riding a bike to school as a kid, I was never much of a cyclist growing up.  But, at the age of 16 after becoming paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair I wanted to “go”….. I can’t explain where exactly I wanted to go, but I can tell you I felt like a caged animal with way too much energy/stress/anxiety, loathing to break out and go. Before paralysis I had plenty of ways to release built up energy/stress/anxiety….  Shortly after my injury in 1999 I was confined to a wheelchair permanently, so I decided to buy a hand-cycle.  Over 10 years later I still cruise on the same hand-bike.
Aside from freedom, a hand-cycle has practical purposes as well. If confined to a wheelchair you understand how limited we are to cardio exercise options.  A hand-cycle is probably the best source of cardio exercise for a person confined to a wheelchair.

Below is a hand-cycle video I took a few days ago.  On a beautiful day there’s nothing better than choosing to get outside for a bike ride.  The more choices you have the less disabled you are.

A couple months ago a friend and I decided we’re going to ride our bikes across the United States, from South Florida to San Diego, California. My buddy is a 2-footer, so he’ll be riding a normal bicycle.  I on the other hand will be riding a hand-cycle the entire 3,700+ miles….  Why would I even want to do this?!  Because 67 people have told me they don’t think it’s possible, and simply because I choose to do so.  We’re currently working on the logistics of the trip.  Realistically we won’t be departing for at least another 8-12 months, but I promise the trip details are in the works.

So do you think I’ll be able to bicycle across America, coast to coast, 3,700+ miles on a hand-cycle?  If not, I welcome your criticism, as well as your address… I’ll need it, to send you a postcard once we reach San Diego.

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Showing 15 comments
  • Brian

    I hope you didn’t count me as one of those 67 people, Jake. Speaking for myself, I’d never bet against you doing it. So go for it, brother, and be sure to take some video!

  • Vegas Villain

    Hope you plan on stoping in Las Vegas. Did I tell you how inspirational you are and after all these years I never knew. Get it son.

  • Anne-Marie

    I have no doubt you can accomplish this! When you go though, post lots of video and pics so we can cheer you on 🙂

  • Burt Sharff

    Jacob, not only do I think you can do it, I absolutely know you will. I have never known you not to accomplish anything you set your sights on doing. You still make me “kvel.”

  • Jamie Lipman

    I cant stop smiling. I just watched the video and I am forever amazed by the man that you became. To know you for so long now and to be around to witness all that you accomplish is awe inspiring. I am always your fan. I will continue to follow you and support you in every endeavor.

  • Pamela Murray

    You are truly amazing! Great to hear from you. What a spirit you have!

  • Gavin S.

    WPB to San Diego…
    Always a place open to you in Phoenix if need be!

    Awesome goal, best wishes!

  • Beni

    No doubt in my mind! I only know very few amazing people and you are at the top!!! So happy to see you become such an amazing man!!!

  • Amy

    Jacob, if there is anything I have learned about you in the time I have known you, it is that there is NOTHING you can’t do! Go for it!!

  • Jacob

    Thank you everyone for the kind words. They mean more to me than you know, honestly.

  • Sue Castonguay

    You are truly an inspiration !
    Lots of Love,
    Aunt Sue and Uncle Thom

  • Ken Carter

    What brand/model handcycle do you have? I am thinking about buying one but I am not sure what to get.

  • Jacob


    I currently use an old 1999 “Freedom Ryder”. Check out the newest model at http://www.freedomryder.com. They aren’t a large corporation like Quickie or Invacare. Also, check out the Invacare “Top End Force” models, they are sweet… and expensive! If/when I make the leap to purchase a new hand-cycle I plan on getting another Freedom Ryder. Mine has been through the ringer, and still rides nicely. Check out the lime green bike on their homepage. Tell him I mentioned their bike, they’ll shoot you straight if you have any questions. Get your ride on Ken!!

  • Amy Houser

    Hi Jacob,

    I know you have already made this ride, so I am writing to congratulate you! That is awesome!

    I am a T10 paraplegic and became paralyzed almost 4 years ago. I was a long distance runner prior to my injury, and like you, I feel like a “caged animal, with way too much energy, stress, anxiety.” I have been swimming regularly since my injury, but it am still searching for other ways to get a cardio workout. Do you have any suggestions for purchasing a hand cycle? I really appreciate your advice and recommendations.

    Thank you,

    • Jacob

      Hi Amy! I can relate to the caged animal feeling:) If you’re interested in a hand-cycle, I’d suggest looking into a grant, which can get you a brand new hand-cycle for free. I believe “Kelly Brush Foundation” is currently taking applications. Visit their website, and the grant application process is very straight forward. I know this organization, and they give out a ton of grants each year. The amount of people who are approved would amaze you! You have a great chance of getting accepted. If/when accepted, you just place the order through a hand-cycle re-seller, and Kelly Brush Foundation mails the check to the re-seller. Super simple. Email me at jacob@howirollsports.com if you have any further questions. Actually, my adaptive sports store “How iRoll Sports” sells hand-cycles through this organization each year. I’d put in a request for a “Top End Force-3” handcycle for $3,500. You should get granted the entire amount:) Let me know if you have any questions!

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