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Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

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Old 05-15-09, 01:12 AM   #1
benajah
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Serious question about handicapped classes

Okay serious question here,
Three years ago I lost a leg in the war in Afghanistan. Had been a highly ranked MTB racer before I got hurt and got into road racing after.
Nearly every sport has a classification for handicapped athletes. Every sport at least gives a handicapped athlete a handicap factor for ranking...except for USA cycling
In the cycling arena, the paralympics does, but USA cycling has nothing, nada, for bike racers with physical handicaps. There are only 20 or so registered leg amputee racers in the US right now. In any given race, 99% chance I am the only one legged guy there so as long as I finish with the pack I consider it a fantastic race.
I am only physically capable of generating about 80%, with perfect prosthetic performance, of what I could with two legs, so does it seem like sort of a ripoff that USA cycling does not have a ranking structure for crippled racers?
I race nearly every weekend and am frustrated almost to the point of quitting racing, as I have no paralympic dreams so what is the point? I want to compete with something. But right now I have no measurement to compete agaisnt.
Does it seem a little unfair?
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Old 05-15-09, 01:45 AM   #2
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You get mad props for doing it!

Unfortunately, unless there was a separate category for handicapped racers, there wouldn't be any equality. Your solace is in the fact that your 80% is better than most cyclists 100%.

Plus, your determination is incredible. In fact, I think people will find strength in your determination.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:08 AM   #3
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thank you for your service and I admire your resolve to participate in bicycle racing. much respect.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:10 AM   #4
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Like you said, there are only 20 registered leg amputee racers in the US.

If they created a separate category for handicapped racers, you'd be lucky to show up at a local race and be anything but alone.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:18 AM   #5
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thank you for your service and I admire your resolve to participate in bicycle racing. much respect.
+1

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Your solace is in the fact that your 80% is better than most cyclists 100%.
Agreed... A victory is whatever you make it.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:19 AM   #6
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There was something in this month's USACycling Coaches newsletter last week about this. I'll look it up one I get home and post it if it's relevant.

Seems to me like you're doing a great job in races anyway. So stick with it.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:27 AM   #7
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Ive seen a CAT 1 guy thats missing part of his leg (right above the knee) and he seems to hold his own in races... Anything is possible!
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Old 05-15-09, 07:53 AM   #8
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As pointed out the numbers just don't work. You'd likely have no one to race against in your local crit.

Unfortunately, there are more and more amputees with Afghanastan and Iraq, so there may be enough numbers out there, if there was a venue. Thus it may be that there could be para category added to some larger regional and national races, where you might attract enough people to have a decent race.

I would talk to the organizers of the bigger races in your area, as well as talking to the other 20 licensed racers and see if you can drum up some interest.

A few years ago, the Jacksonville race when it was on the NRC calender put on a handcycle race on the crit course. I'm thinking you're going to need something like an NRC event to be big enough to hope to draw enough people.
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Old 05-15-09, 08:26 AM   #9
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It seems like a chicken and egg problem- there's no adjustment or category in USA Cycling for handicapped riders, so few of them compete, so there doesn't seem like a need for any adjustment.

Maybe the solution is to work with some other organization, perhaps one that caters to handicapped athletes? Providing a venue will encourage more atheletes to compete, and that will encourage USA Cycling to do something.

The USA Cycling national ranking is useless for everyone a this point since many races or districts don't bother to send in their results.
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Old 05-15-09, 08:45 AM   #10
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I think the OP is asking about rankings vs. a separate class. I'd agree that some ranking system shouldn't be a huge undertaking for USA cycling, but bear in mind they've been doing a revamp of their old system and hadn't gotten it working by the start of May.

You might contact some of the other racers and Email USA cycling to see if they will add a handicapped ranking.

We've got one racer here who is in the same situation (we share coaches), and there was a kid in Reno who was also racing with a prosthesis. Know that your peers hold you in high regard. Also know that the guys around you are trying a little bit harder than normal. Nobody wants to get beat by you.

Beyond that, like the pack fodder that most of us are the race is really against yourself. Unless you're sandbagging you'll eventually find yourself a non factor, if for nothing else because of your racing age. Go into the races with a goal, be it a finishing position, a time (TT's are great for this), or just to finish (see my Tour of the Gila thread). Go OTF from the gun and get a rep as "that crazy one-legged guy". Break a one hour 40km TT. The possibilities are endless.

And I'll get up on my ex-military little soap box and state that we have a lot of bumper sticker troop supporters in this country who elect people that screw us over. We can bail out Citibank with billions so people can keep borrowing money to buy carp but we can't come up with a new GI Bill for guys like the OP. That's an absolute disgrace.
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Old 05-15-09, 08:47 AM   #11
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This will get you started.

http://usparalympics.org/content/index/594
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Old 05-15-09, 08:48 AM   #12
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I think the OP is asking about rankings vs. a separate class. I'd agree that some ranking system shouldn't be a huge undertaking for USA cycling, but bear in mind they've been doing a revamp of their old system and hadn't gotten it working by the start of May.
I hadn't even thought of that, but agree that a separate ranking system (are we talking about BAR, Omnium, or USAC rankings?) would be appropriate.
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Old 05-15-09, 09:06 AM   #13
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Like you said, there are only 20 registered leg amputee racers in the US.

If they created a separate category for handicapped racers, you'd be lucky to show up at a local race and be anything but alone.
Yep. When I was a junior, I frequently showed up to a race to find I was the only entrant in my age category. They would hand me a medal and let me race with the adults. I threw the medal away... although I felt free to pad my resume with the 1st place result.
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Old 05-15-09, 09:50 AM   #14
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My dad lost a leg in the 60's and, while physically active, has never been interested in athletics. I really applaud your determination. Come up with a way to implement what you want USA Cycling to do, and I think everyone will support your efforts. As far as personal race goals, go, set them and hit them. It doesn't have to be to win races.....most of us don't.
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Old 05-15-09, 11:45 AM   #15
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First off, thanks for everyone's supportive comments.
Racer Ex..we did finally get the new GI bill and it rocks. Unfortunately it came into effect about a month after I finished grad school, haha. I think it went into effect in Jan but I could be wrong.
There was a really good point made about the whole, only 20 or so amputee racers so no need for a seperate cat, along with the lack of a seperate cat keeping amputees from racing. It is something of a catch 22
USA Triathlon has a seperate cat, and at most big races you see a ton of wheelchair racers and amputees. I did the Chicago Accenture tri last year and there were about 300 handicapped folks racing out of about 4 or 5 thousand.
On the good side, there are organizations like Challenged Athletes Foundation, Disabled Sports USA, and AbilityPLUS that hold a ton of events, but they are rarely competitive races, but fun rides, fundraisers, etc.
For some reason, many physically challenged athletes seem to lean towards triathlon than pure cycling, but I hate running, really hate it.
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Old 05-15-09, 12:04 PM   #16
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Racer Ex..we did finally get the new GI bill and it rocks. Unfortunately it came into effect about a month after I finished grad school, haha. I think it went into effect in Jan but I could be wrong.
Well there goes one axe to grind, the media either missed it or I doing some race that news cycle; last I heard it was still in committee.

Keep after it my friend.
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Old 05-15-09, 01:37 PM   #17
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Do you race for Whole foods?

I think it is so Awesome to see someone nailing it. I saw one guy doing cross in the A? during the Bay Area series and another in the A at Hellyer. My step son uses a wheelchair and we bought him a handcycle, but being a teenage he is only into videos games. You are such an inspiration. Bonne Chance!
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Old 05-16-09, 05:03 AM   #18
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Well there goes one axe to grind, the media either missed it or I doing some race that news cycle; last I heard it was still in committee.

Keep after it my friend.

Yep, it made it through. It's late for a lot of us older war horses but should do good things for the men and women in harms way now. The VA benefits are getting ever so slowly better too. If only the system wasn't so tragically over worked right now.

OP, I'm not an amputee but I am a disabled vet. If you need someone to help with a grass roots effort I would be honored to lend a hand at writing letters, making phone calls, working with local groups, and reaching out to other clubs and teams.
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Old 05-16-09, 08:23 AM   #19
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There was something in this month's USACycling Coaches newsletter last week about this. I'll look it up one I get home and post it if it's relevant.

Seems to me like you're doing a great job in races anyway. So stick with it.
The item focused on Paralympic cycling rather than local racing. But there were a number of ex-military cyclists listed in CA looking for a coach, so that suggests there is interest. I can PM you the contact details for the guy that runs the paralympic cycling program and a number of Vet. cycling programs.
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Old 05-16-09, 10:46 PM   #20
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Yeah California is a hotbed for handicapped athletics of all sorts, I personally think mostly just because it is an area that overall tends to be a bit more active in the endurance type sports than a lot of places.
The VA benefits are getting better. As far as medical stuff goes they treat us really well, but it is kind of sad because us Iraq/Afghanistan people come around and we get so much better treatment than the Vietnam guys. It is really a ripoff to them.I can see they are trying to make a turnaround but you would think they would do it across the board.
The VA is made up of really good people though, and most of the bad things that can be said of them come from decisions made way up high, beyond the VA as far as they get treated at budget allocation.
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Old 05-17-09, 10:07 PM   #21
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I've really got nothing to contribute to this thread other than to say thank you for your service. I am truly grateful.
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