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The FAQs of handcycling and wheelchair racing

Wheelchair Racing Handcycle Teams Line Up at Fifth Third River Bank Run
Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is proud to sponsor the wheelchair and handcycle divisions of the Fifth Third River Bank Run for 26 years and support the Grand Rapids community.

Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about the Wheelchair & Adaptive Sports team, wheelchair racing, handcycling and how to be involved.

1. How long has handcycling been around?
Handcycling was developed in the 1980s and has continued to grow in popularity. In 2004, the Paralympics included handcycle racing for the first time. Handcycling can be enjoyed recreationally or competitively on a variety of levels.

2. What’s the difference between a handcycle and wheeler?
Handcycles and wheelers vary in style and functionality. A wheeler is propelled like a wheelchair with the rider pushing the wheels with his/her hands. A handcycle is propelled by arm cranks. There are two types of handcycles. They can be upright or recumbent. An upright means the bike is not low to the ground and is in a seated position. Uprights are generally used for recreational riding. Recumbent handcycles are lower to the ground and the rider is reclined or laying back with a tilt. Recumbent handcycles are used more for speed, racing and competition.

Wheelchair Racing | Handcycle Fifth Third River Bank Run 13. What’s the difference between a criterium and time trial?
The difference between a criterium (or crit as some racers call it) and a time trial is that a crit is held on a short course usually less than one mile long, and is based on the number of laps completed. A time trial is just that, a race that is timed. Usually the competition in a time trial is the clock and not another racer.

4. Do racers make prize money?
Some of the events our racers travel to do have prize payouts. Most races also have an entry fee.

5. Who can be on the team and how can I participate?
The Mary Free Bed Handcycling Team welcomes any racers with physical disabilities who can propel themselves in a handcycle. Participation age varies from 15 to 50-plus years. Whether you’re looking for competitive racing or recreational riding, the team is just for you!

6. Do I have to own my own handcycle to race or be on the team?
No, the handcycling team does have several handcycles that can be loaned out during the season for those who wish to race. These handcycles are for our registered team racers and do get loaned out quickly, so having your own handcycle helps.

7. How much does it cost to race with the team?
There’s a $40 registration fee to be on the team and receive reimbursements.

8. Do I have to attend races and compete to be a part of the team?Wheelchair Racing Handcycle Fifth Third River Bank Run 2
No, you may join the team for recreational riding. You can practice weekly with the team and decide whether or not you’d like to compete. The $40 registration fee still applies even if you choose not to compete in races.

9. Are there fundraising responsibilities?
Racers must participate in some fundraising activities and there are a variety of ways our team raises funds, especially for the River Bank Run.

10. How do I participate in the River Bank Run?
Register online at www.53riverbankrun.com. Hover over “Participate” at the top of the page and click “Register.”

2015 Mary Free Bed Handcycle and Wheelchair Team
Bryan Wilkinson
Brad Baumann
Pierre Camy
Scott Cole
Leland Foster
Terry French
Chris Graystone
Jared Hart
Corey Hutchinson
Krishna Heidenfeld
Joe Leroux
Lindsey Rabbit
Rob Seng
Tom Weaver
Jeff Younker

Watch our 25 years of Rollin’ on the River video – Join the conversation online at #MFBRollin

Watch our 2013 video as we chat with several handcyclists and wheelchair athletes.

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