May 14 was “Bike to Work Day” this year around the Bay Area. Last year I saw many cyclists commute to work and receive free tote bags and snacks, so naturally I wanted to participate this year.
Biking to work, itself, wasn’t too hard of a commitment since I work about 3 miles from home and I’m in such great shape (*cough*). The hardest part was figuring out where to put my wheelchair while riding. Normally when I go on a ride, I will leave my wheelchair at my car so I can get it when I return. But, there was no way I was going to leave my chair at home and sit at my desk in a handcycle all day.
Here was the plan:
1) Drive to work the day before (as usual) and then get a ride home from a friend/roommate
2) In the morning, bike to work with my chair strapped to the back of my bike
3) Bike to my car already parked at work
4) Reassemble my chair and put my bike in my car during the day
5) Drive home
In the morning I met with my BFF, Becca, who was to be my pit crew in case anything went wrong on the ride over. She gathered all the bungee cords and rope she could find and somehow finagled my chair to fit on the back of my handcycle. This was my first attempt at trying to manage the handcycle + wheelchair combo.
Here’s how it looked before we departed:
Becca also strapped my wheels to her backpack since I couldn’t fit them anywhere on my bike. (HINT: make a triangle with the rope; let gravity be your friend.)
Since this was the first time we had done this, there were a few hiccups along the way.
1) Not enough room on the back of my handcycle to comfortably fit my entire chair without anything rubbing
2) Once strapped in, my chair would jostle out of place and start to hit the spokes of my handcycle if I went over bumps too fast. We had to pull over to the side of the road a few times to realign and tighten some straps
3) Some of the regular biking routes have tunnels underneath busy streets where there are also bike barrier guards that someone in a handcycle cannot maneuver on their own. Luckily i had my pit crew to help me navigate and actually pick up the handcycle with me in it to get around the bars
4) If you leave home too late, the tote bags are all gone from the aid stations
LUCKILY! I passed two stations on the way to work and the last one had extra tote bags for us. Baby clif bar? Totally worth it.
I saw this bike trip as a test run for when I bike around Europe with some of my closest friends for my 10 year Crashiversary next year.
Things to remember:
1) The more bungee cords, the better
2) Maybe buy a back fender for handcycle, which allows more room for the chair to be strapped onto handcycle
All in all, it was a success! By next year I’ll be a pro and be ready to hang my 2nd tote bag in my closet with pride.
Lena + Steve FTW!