Handcycling the World

Athletes Roll chatted with Doug Ewing who participated in Southern New Hampshire University’s Human Library event this week. At this event, Doug was one of thirteen people who shared their life experiences through one-on-one conversations, acting as “books” in a library. His talk was titled “Living Life with a Disability – Handcycling the World”.  Doug was paralyzed in an accident back in the 80’s when he fell while helping to paint his brother’s house.  After the accident, he was at Northeast Rehab for three months to learn how to live with his disability.  There, he was encouraged to find something to enjoy doing. This prompted him to give handcycling a try, working up to local road races.  He also tried other activities like rowing and basketball.

Doug was a founding member of Northeast Passage (NEP), an organization that brought adaptive recreation like water skiing, kite flying, and skiing to disabled people in New England.  Doug is also a board member with Danny’s Team; a non-profit that “enhances the lives of people with disabilities”.  In 1993, Danny’s Team partnered with NEP on a cross-country bike trip fundraiser where Doug handcycled across the USA.  Six riders, three of which were disabled, rode 4,000 miles in 58 days, averaging 80 miles per day.  Through Danny’s Team, Doug enjoys helping to build wheelchair ramps to grant people access to their homes.

After his US handcycling trip, Doug signed up to be a part of the World Team Sports event handcycling through several countries including Russia, Paris, Ireland and Sweden, and ending in Washington DC. Although some visa problems stopped Doug from riding through Asia with the team, he did about two-thirds of this event.  During the event, Doug’s twin brother flew out to join him, and they celebrate their birthday together.

I enjoyed listening to Doug’s experiences and asked what he would want people to take away from his handcycling adventures.  He said that you can do anything you put your mind to as long as you are willing to step out of the boundaries of your limitations.  You can live a full life and do way more than you think is possible.

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