Paralympians and their speed machines

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Woman being coached on a hand powered bicycle at a pre-olympic information evenrt

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – A chance to experience paralympic technology first-hand in a pre-Olympic event in Brussels

“These elite frames weigh about as much as the high quality bicycle racing frames. We went up Mont Ventoux in about three hours last year. You can come down the mountain even faster than bicycles because you are lower to the ground and have better aerodynamics. We did 100km an hour down Ventoux.”

Notes: The Paralympics start today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over the past decades, the presence of paralympians has steadily climbed in visibility and popularity. Cycling has been a growth sport in the Paralympics since being introduced in 1984. Cycling is now the third largest sport in the Paralympic Games. A few weeks ago, in Brussels, there was an opportunity to try some of the hand-powered bicycles that are similar to the ones used in the Olympics. I only rode it for 100 metres, a test lap, but you get a sense of the ride and the possibilities. It was exhausting, even that small distance. But riding a bicycle is hard the first days out. Its is, and always will be, about training.
A year or so past, I saw one of the elite para-frames on a ride along the canal. This speck appeared out of nowhere, shot past and, before I could turn around to chase, he was blistering into the distance. That was my first sense of just how much potential these frames, these cyclists, have.
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