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Adaptive Cycling Clinic Helps Disabled Veteran Ride Again

14 Veterans pose for a photo on adaptive upright cycles, recumbent trikes and hand cycles before heading out on a ride during the 2023 Adaptive Cycling Clinic.

Washington DC VA Medical Center Recreational Therapy hosted an Adaptive Cycling Clinic for Veterans with disabilities on April 6 and 7, 2023.

The two-day event brought together Veterans from around the DC metro area and parts of Virginia and Maryland, as well as support teams from across the country. District Cycles, from Washington D.C., and Adaptive Adventures, from Colorado, brought adaptive upright bikes, recumbent trikes and hand cycles, as well as support staff to help Veterans learn to safely ride.

VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant Program provides disabled Veterans an opportunity to participate in activities they once loved to do, or would like to try, as a way to improve health and wellness and stay active. Army Veteran and double amputee, Reginald McIntyre, attended the clinic and discovered his knack for hand cycling.

“I’ve always loved riding bikes and it was like I was 15 again,” said McIntyre. “I lost my left leg in 2016 and my right in 2018 to diabetes, but I always believed I could still ride. When they got me on that hand cycle, I was ready to go.”

The first day of the event allowed Veterans to test out different types of cycles and practice riding them under the instruction of recreational therapists and adaptive cycling specialists. On day two, they started at the Tanger Outlets Mall and rode five-and-a-half-miles across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and back. McIntyre said he thought the distance might be difficult, but he came through the ride without any struggles.

“They were really impressed that I did the full ride by hand and didn’t have any issues, and I was proud of myself too. I feel blessed that it went so well,” said McIntyre.

Now that he has a few rides under his belt, McIntyre plans to apply to join the VA’s Adaptive Sports Cycling Program and, hopefully, be able to get his own bike. He wants to help his girlfriend, who is also disabled, learn to ride an adaptive cycle so they can stay active together. He credits the Washington DC VA Medical Center Recreational Therapy team, Adaptive Adventures and DC Cycles for making the clinic so impactful.

“They take the time to make each bike work for each person, and they make sure that we are ok the whole time,” said McIntyre. “Everything was so well planned, and you could tell that they worked hard to make it a good experience for us.”

The Adaptive Cycling Clinic is an annual event put on by the Washington DC VA Medical Center, and McIntyre encourages all Veterans who have disabilities that impact their mobility to check it out.

“Don’t short yourself on what you’re capable of doing. Even if you haven’t ridden a bike in 40 years, they’re going to adapt a bike to you and get you going,” said McIntyre. “You don’t have to be hesitant; you can do this.”

For those Veterans who are amputees like McIntyre, he added a few more encouraging words.

“If you’re having a hard time coping with losing a limb, or thinking that your life is over, this is a great opportunity to see that it’s not,” he said. “This will show you that you can do many of the things that you used to do. Join the program and see how VA can help you.”

To learn more about VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant Program, visit: VA National Veterans Sports Programs