Do you want to start wheelchair racing with your GRIT Freedom Chair but aren't sure how to get started? We are here to help! With a few simple tips, you'll be able to improve your performance, be safe, and have fun all while getting fit and being active in your community.
For pavement, you’ll want to limit rolling resistance. Using a narrow, high-pressure tire with a smooth tread will help you roll faster and easier along your route. You can visit your local bike shop to find these. They will be able to help you decide on the best tire for you and your activity. They will even be able to order something in if they don’t carry it in stock and quickly change the tires for you right there.
2. STEERING PEGS
Gravity will always make wheels want to roll downhill! Since most organized races occur on sidewalks and roads, you will quickly notice your chair wanting to role to one side. This happens because most paved surfaces are sloped for drainage. If you are above 5’ 4” tall and have some strength and control in your legs, we recommend adding the steering peg accessory to the front wheel of the GRIT Freedom Chair. These pegs attach to the axle of the smaller front wheel on the Freedom Chair. Using your feet, you will be able to compensate for the camber as you move forward. This will dramatically improve your speed and reduce your energy expenditure.
Staying hydrated is key when you are being active! There are many places where you can add a water bottle holder to your GRIT Freedom Chair. We recommend looking at the variety of water bottle "cages" at your local bike shop. You can also sling a backpack with a bladder over the backrest, like Jerry Goldsmith did.
*Note that hanging a larger quantity of water on the back of the Freedom Chair will change the center of gravity, so be sure to practice hills with a spotter prior to race day so that you feel safe and comfortable.*
4. TRACK YOUR RIDES
Whether for training or race day, it’s a lot of fun to track and share your activity. This helps you see how far you’ve come and allows you to set goals for the future. Platforms like Strava allow you add photos and connect with people who share similar interests, both in your community and abroad. You'll also be able to easily share your rides from Strava to different social media platforms so your friends and family can cheer you on as you progress.
Simultaneously, you can join GRIT's Rider Rewards program. There are various activities you can take part in including "Review a Local Trail." Using the maps and photos from tracking your regular rides, you will be able to share your favorite routes with other active wheelchair users all over the country.
5. TAKE A BUDDY
Races are more fun with friends! It's also a good idea to have someone who can give you a little push if you need it, especially if it is your first time racing. It’s perfectly okay to ask for some help! After all, those who care about you just want to make sure you are there with them and having a great time.
If your friends and family aren't able to accompany you, don't be afraid to reach out to your local running club. Running clubs are great places to find an energetic racing partner.
6. GET INSPIRED
If you are a wheelchair racing beginner, it might seem intimidating. Sometimes, it can be helpful to read the stories of those who've gone through similar journeys. Click on a fellow GRIT Freedom Chair Rider's picture below to learn more about them.