Never Give Up
"Never Give Up!" is Robbin Bryant’s ultimate belief and he is doing a great job following his beliefs. For local residents of Dallas, Oregon, where Robbin lives, seeing the three wheels of his Top End Force G hand-cycle cruising down Wyatt Street is a common sight.
For Robbin, a 47-year-old paraplegic, training has become a significant part of his life. He has always been an active and athletic guy, but at the age of 21 Robbin was involved in a motocross accident that left him paralyzed. Although he had learned about handcycling over 15 years ago Robbin never gave it much thought until many years later when he decided to add more physical activity to his life. He decided it was time to get back into athletics and look at cycling more seriously.
When he first ventured into the sport of handcycling Robbin had to take a risk. There was nowhere in the area to go for a test ride, so he went ahead and bought his first bike, hoping he would like it. “It took me a while to get accustomed to the constant motion using only my arms and chest muscles,” Robbin pointed out. “I really enjoyed being outdoors with time out from my wheelchair.”
Robbin eventually joined the Oregon Handcycle Alliance, a group of handcyclers who gather for recreational rides on routes throughout the state. For about six years he enjoyed riding handcycles for recreation, but last year he decided take riding to the next level by trading in his everyday cruiser bike for one that was lighter and faster for competitive racing.
His handcycle has all the components of a traditional bicycle, but has three wheels, one in the front and two in the back. It’s propelled with a hand-powered crank and Robbin sits in a seat about five or six inches off the ground with his legs strapped to leg rests on either side of the front wheel. The bike is about seven feet long. With 27 speeds, the bike can handle hills with relative ease and Robbin can reach speeds of 13 miles per hour on flat stretches.
This past April Robbin competed in the Eugene Half Marathon, this was the first time he has entered a competitive race since the accident. He began the race lined up with more than 8,000 other determined athletes, but Robbin was equally determined. He hoped the combination of his weight training and long rides, sometimes up to 21 miles, prepared him for this new chapter in his life.
“I felt some anxiety before the big race, but it was just my nerves,” said Robbin. “I had a goal of finishing the marathon with a time of around one hour and 10 minutes and I felt that would be possible if I didn’t start out to fast and stayed relaxed.” He went into this race knowing that he wasn’t going to break any world records; he was just expecting to have fun and enjoy the experience. He didn't hit his goal, because the chain derailed twice on two hills due to inexperience. “I learned so much from that race, although I don’t remember the first three miles,” he laughed. “But, what I did learn helped me in the next race.” What got Robbin through the tough training and the race was positive thinking, pushing through the pain and his belief to never give up.
Since the first race Robbin has gone on to compete in other events in Oregon and Washington. “Vancouver USA was my next race and it turned out real well,” said Robbin. “I cut over 20 minutes off my time, and with no bike problems, it was about 10 minutes in race time — overall, it was a great day!”
June 16th, 2013 is Robbin's next race (Vancouver USA Marathon). “My future goals are to continue racing this year and again in 2013, then decide what to do next. I may want to move up to strictly handcycling races, but if I do that, I’ll need a bike designed for racing. All that’s in the future, for now I just want to get better and keep having fun.”
By entering races like this he hopes to inspire others with disabilities and show everyone that you can do anything if you have a positive attitude and set your mind to it. He also raised money for the Homes for Troops charity, which is a national non-profit organization that provides specially adapted homes for severely wounded veterans at no cost to them.
Along with his passion of hand-cycling, Robbin still loves motocross, but has now satisfied his need for a motor beneath him by riding quads (or four wheelers). He also stays active by traveling and spending time with family and friends. As a true Oregon native, you will find Robbin rooting for the Oregon Ducks during the football season.
Though life has thrown Robbin some challenges he continues to push forward and has never given up. Robbin remains very motivated and two words you will never hear from his mouth are; "I can't." He is very appreciative of all the support he has received and looks for opportunities to give back to others. He is a true example of one that EXCEEDS, INSPIRES, and ROLLS!