Handcycler finds fitness and passion

Today's Lee's Summit Journal has an article about Brian Mitchell, who is paralyzed from the waist down and a competitive handcycler:
Unable to maintain as active a lifestyle as he once did, Mitchell said he packed on some extra pounds after the accident. For that reason, and to help stay sane, Mitchell said he began looking into forms of physical activity he could do on a regular basis.

“I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my spare time,” he said. “It was like, ‘What does Brian want to do for fun?’ I didn’t really know.”

Whether he found it, or it found him, handcycling made its way into Mitchell’s life about eight years ago. He enjoyed it, he said, because he could ride his hand bike along with others on more traditional bicycles. . . .

So for the past four years, Mitchell and his handcycle have traveled the country competing in various events conducted by the U.S. Handcyling Federation. Already this year, he’s competed in a major event in Georgia. His third-place finish at the race is one of his favorite memories thus far, as he beat two of his top rivals. He’s also won races in Wichita, Kan. He left on Thursday to compete in an event in Denver, Colo., this weekend and will race again in Indianapolis, Ind., in August.

He’s also participated in various local events involving primarily bicyclers, such as the MS 150 and the Tour de Lakes.

“It’s a great physical and mental release,” Mitchell said of his new passion. “When I’m riding, I’m just out there thinking about riding — nothing else.”