Visit to TOP END Headquarters for Racing Wheelchair Fitting

In Sports

A couple days ago I took a trek from West Palm Beach, FL to Pinellas, FL. The drive across the state was a bit sketchy, due to the old roads and one lane each way, but it ended up being well worth the trip. I was visiting the TOP END headquarters, where some of the best performance wheelchairs, hand-cycles, and racing wheelchairs are manufactured.

Recently, for better or for worse, I committed to an official nationally ranked USAT Paratriathlon. The Nickel City Triathlon is in Buffalo, New York on September 16, 2012.  Remember, a triathlon is swimming, cycling, and running… Being paralyzed in a wheelchair, I obviously can’t handle the running part. Therefore, paratriathlons allow people in wheelchairs to “run” using a racing wheelchair.  All it really means is that I had to invest in a new piece of equipment.  Racing wheelchairs are made custom for each individual.  A racing wheelchair that fits one person perfectly, will not feel right for the next guy. So instead of purchasing a lightly used racing wheelchair, I decided to get a proper fit the first time. Hence the trip to TOP END in Pinellas, FL for a custom fitting.

TOP END Headquarters in Pinellas, FL. Here to get measured for a racing wheelchair.

From the outside, TOP END headquarters looked like your average warehouse building.  There were no bells and whistles to make the building stand out.  But once inside, I quickly noticed this warehouse was anything but average.  The operation on the inside was booming.  Hand-cycles and racing wheelchairs were being fabricated from scratch right in front of my eyes.  Master welders were taking precise measurements and then melting solid steal pipes together.  In a separate room with see-through glass walls another guy was sand blasting.  TOP END headquarters is the real deal, producing some of the world’s fastest racing wheelchairs and hand-cycles.

Photo of a racing wheelchair build from inside TOP END headquarters.

My racing wheelchair fitting took no more than 20 minutes, but it was well worth the 3 hour drive.  I was lucky enough to have my measurements taken by Chris Peterson, who’s one of the original founders of TOP END as well as the principal designer.  Basically, if  you can have anyone fit you for a racing wheelchair or hand-cycle, this is the guy.  Now all I need to do is wait patiently for TOP END to build me a sexy new racing wheelchair, and pray it gets delivered before the Nickel City Triathlon in Buffalo, NY on September 16, 2012.

If you or anyone you know may be interested in any of the above, please feel free to contact me at any time for more information.  And for any paraplegic confined to wheelchair that claims  they can’t live an active sporty lifestyle, google “USAT PARATRIATHLON” and stop making excuses.



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  • al mcbain

    I am unable to contact you because I am in Canada. The medical supply store that sells your product in Canada and has no proper way to measure someone for a racing wheelchair. Also they will not assist me to contact you and your factory for help or information. I am being forced to look for a racing chair elsewhere.

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