In 1995 a core group of six riders including three top athletes who were disabled and rode handcycles, left Atlanta Georgia to embark on a journey of a lifetime - to cycle around the world. They crossed 16 countries, U.S., Ireland, England, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Japan.
The handcycle these world class athletes chose were FREEDOM RYDERS. To give you an idea of the scope and importance of this ride, not only were there dozens of high profile corporate sponsors and Greg LeMond was the official ride spokesman, but the CBS news network sent a full camera crew on the journey to document it! These top athletes could have chosen any handcycle on the market for such a prestigious event. Why did they choose FREEDOM RYDERS? Several reasons, first and foremost because they knew they were up to the task. Other reasons include the tremendous front wheel traction because of the frame design. Many of the countries they crossed had no paved roads outside of their capital cities, and the riders said without the added front wheel traction they would not have been able to complete their journey. One segment of their ride lasted for 500 miles when they crossed the Gobi Desert! Another reason was the body-lean-steering design that sets FREEDOM RYDERS apart from all other handcycles. Not only did this allow them to corner faster and easier than any other handcycle, but it also allowed them to continue pedaling throughout the corner without putting any inputs into the steering as happens on fork steered designs.
In 1989 Bob Whelan was the first handcyclist to ride a handcycle (a FREEDOM RYDER) coast to coast across the United States. His ride took him 33 days.
Also, in 1989 Dave Cornelson set out to beat Bob's record. He not only beat it, he demolished it when he crossed the country on a FREEDOM RYDER in just 18 days.
The FREEDOM RYDER was the first handcycle to complete the prestigious "Ironman" in Kona, Hawaii, ridden by John McLain in 1995. Although he missed the cycling cut-off time the race sponsors allowed him to complete the cycling and wheelchair part of the event. And in 1998 Julia Wallace was the first and only disabled woman to complete the Ironman on a handcycle. Julia was first in the swim and (riding a FREEDOM RYDER )came in third in the handcycle portion of the event in a field of four with the other three being the favored male athletes.
On June 27, 1993, after dipping their wheels in the Pacific Ocean, seven cyclists left the west coast of Washington to cycle across the United States for their vacation. Three of them rode handcycles, Rory McCarthy, Sandy Renfro and Doug Ewing. The trip began with one FREEDOM RYDER and two other brands of handcycles. Before they completely crossed the state of Washington they called us to buy another FREEDOM RYDER because "The rider just couldn't keep up." When they crossed over into Idaho and began to cross Montana they called again. In order for them to complete their journey as a group, they needed another FREEDOM RYDER. With three handcyclists riding three FREEDOM RYDERS they successfully completed their journey on August 21 and touched their wheels in the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portland, Maine. (See the article in the May/June l994 issue of Sports and Spokes magazine, or call us and we'll send you a copy.) This is another example of FREEDOM RYDERS meeting the demands of another challenge.
In January,1998 seven disabled veterans of the Vietnam war joined a group of eighty veterans to cycle the length of Vietnam. The 16 day, 1200 mile trek to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon was designed to help heal past wounds from the war. Greg LeMond was again the ride spokesman, and occasionally rode a FREEDOM RYDER during the ride. The ride was a tremendous success. The ride was documented on film by Sports Illustrated TV and the same individual who directed "Hoop Dreams." The film was called "Vietnam Long Time Coming" and it won an Emmy Award for "Best Program Achievement." The handcycles chosen for all seven riders were FREEDOM RYDERS. (See the article in "Bicycling" magazine June 1998.")
On May 1, 1999, John Ryan a 37 year old Paraplegic from Whistler, B.C. began a journey that took him more than 5,400 miles as he handcycled his FREEDOM RYDER across Canada on the "Regeneration Tour" dedicated to preserving and promoting spinal cord research in Canada. His journey began in Cape Spear, Newfoundland and took him through Vancouver, B.C. on Labor Day weekend in September, 1999. Then he went through Victoria, B.C. and finally back to his hometown of Whistler, B.C. 132 days and 5,400 miles later. His crossing was a success and FREEDOM RYDER was proud to be a part of it!
"Face of America" World Team Sports has asked FREEDOM RYDER to be the official handcycle of the "Face of America" tour happening this summer in an event that will have cyclists beginning from the west and east coasts of America and meeting in St. Louis for a spectacular launch of the rails to trails national park system.