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Observations of a Nulliplegic

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-14 22:28:25 EST
Rating: 1.83 on 6 ratings (14 reviews) (Review this item) (V)

Picked up a Champiot Armpower X on CL the other day. Bicycling was not giving me the upper body endurance that swimming had been in the summer and fall, and now the pool’s too damn cold to swim comfortably. Brought the thing home, did some maintenance/upkeep to make it roadworthy again, added some flashing lights and an orange flag (safety forced, you know) and a storage bag for the lock/repair kit, and a water bottle and bicycle computer. I’ve had it on the roads and trails near my house for a few days now. You sit on the seat and row with your arms and abs/back to make the thing move. Your feet sit in metal trays up front. You steer and row with the handlebars, and there are brake levers operated from the handlebars that brake the rear wheels.

I ride my bicycle around my neighborhood, in the woods, and on the trails nearby. I wave to people who look at me riding, knowing that they’re probably looking because a fat guy on a bicycle pedaling for all he’s worth is something you have to look at. Doesn’t bother me – I like waving to people.

I had never seen a row-powered quadcycle before I found this one. When I went to pick it up and saw it for real, it struck me as interesting. It is kind of a cool machine. I figured I’d get some inquisitive looks as I rode around the neighborhood and on the trails nearby, because a fat guy rowing a quadcycle for all he’s worth is something you have to look at. But here’s the thing: nobody looks. They glance, and then they look away and ignore me. I don’t need attention and that’s not why I was using the thing, but it struck me as odd that nobody seemed as interested in the cool machine as I was/am, or indeed interested in the cool machine at all. It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally did. They look and see me sitting in the seat, rowing like a maniac with my legs just flopped there in the holders… they think I’m paraplegic. When they were kids, mom told them not to stare at cripples, and now they look away. That is what it is.

That observation made me wonder: do actual paraplegics who get the same treatment all the time, that is, people they don’t know looking at them, seeing that there’s a wheelchair or something involved, and then quickly looking away to avoid the appearance of staring; do they feel slighted or judged when it happens? Most people don’t want to be stared at. But if strangers won’t even make eye contact with you, it must be disconcerting. I wondered if they get used to it over time. So I asked the only guy I actually know who’s in a chair all the time how he deals with it.

He said he just ignores it, and doesn’t go out of his way to either call attention to himself or try to conceal himself. So, pretty much just what everyone else does regardless of whether their legs work, then. He knows why they look away, and there’s not a lot that he could do about it. The real problem, he says, is that when he wants to meet someone it’s that much harder for him to make the initial connection.

Based on what I’d been told, I thought I’d take my cool machine out onto the trail today and make a point of making eye contact and waving to people as I rowed by. Just to see, you know, what would happen. Maybe they’d still look away and pretend not to see me wave or hear me say ‘Hello’. Maybe it would revert back to “hey a fat guy working like there’s free donuts a mile away, let’s look”. I suppose the initial results were what you’d expect: Kids all waved back, teens ignored, moms and dads hesitantly acknowledged, old people all waved back. Old people know a lot more people in chairs than the average person, I’m guessing.

The coolest thing that happened was when I was stopped at a bench and was off the machine drinking some water, and an actual paraplegic rolled by on a ultralight wheelchair, and he looked at me, looked at the rowcycle, and gave me a glare. A fucking glare. Like I’m not *allowed* to use a machine that mimics a wheelchair or a non-leg-powered cycle if I can use my legs. Like my doing so was some sort of insult to him: “Dude I have functioning legs and I so take them for granted that I’m not even bothering to use them! You don’t have them and I won’t give you mine! Ha! But that’s just how I roll, dawg... HAAA!” Whatever, glaring chair guy.

I noticed when glaring chair guy rolled by that I unconsciously tried to look away quickly so as not to seem to stare, but then I looked back again and made eye contact because I thought doing so would demonstrate how I’d stepped toward being able to see a person in a chair rather than someone too different to chance dealing with. Didn't matter - I got glared at anyway. Maybe he just got out of rehab after the spinal injury and he’s still bitter. I could make up a story. I could ask him, but he’d already rolled away and there was no way this fat guy could row fast enough to catch him, so it stays with ‘whatever, glaring chair guy’.

I asked my acquaintance in the chair if he feels that way about things like able-bodied people playing wheelchair basketball or whatever. He said he resented it when he first had to be in the chair, but after a while he realized that someone not making use of faculty they have is not an insult to someone without that faculty. It’s just basketball in a chair.

The Champiot Armpower X is a very nice upper body workout, and you get to see the scenery along the way. I will use it as long as my fat ass can make it move and perhaps if you see me on the trail you’ll wave back at me and realize that a fat guy exercising for all he’s worth is something you have to look at even if he’s not using his fully functional legs.

Executive Summary: Don’t stare at chairfolk. Do look at them. Say hello, maybe.

Funmobile.jpg
Funmobile.jpg


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Submitted by Anglophile at 2013-12-24 14:03:11 EST (#)
Rating: 2

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-23 08:05:09 EST (#)

Update: I broke the push/pull stem at the lower weld on Friday climbing a hill on a limerock road. Had to push it 5 miles back home. In the engineering field we call that "piss-poor design". Repaired/upgraded it on Saturday and had it on the road that afternoon. Did 14 miles on unpaved roads and the local bicycle trails. This thing works the hell out of your arms, shoulders, back, chest, and abs all while full-on aerobic for cardio.

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-19 09:22:08 EST (#)

Doodles: This model is one designed for people who don't have the use of their legs and those that do. The mfr makes a model that is foot-steered, but these things show up for sale at a reasonable price so rarely that I snagged this one when I could. New they're like $1300 and I'm not paying that kind of cash for it. Even on the foot-steered model the handle still moves if the vehicle is moving so it can still bash you in the face.

Oath: It's a tractor seat. An actual steel and foam and vinyl tractor seat. I know, rite? I'm going to replace it with a mesh seat from a recumbent bike. Lighter, better ventilation, less tractor-y.

Submitted by Doodles at 2013-12-19 02:06:15 EST (#)

*Pick up some 5lb weights. Extend your arms out in front of you, and then retract them to your chest and push them back out to full extension. Now do that full cycle once every 0.8 second for a while. That's about 15mph on level ground in the funmobile.
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I dunno about that, you have momentum going for you on this, and you don't have to fight a losing leverage battle with gravity.

A cool contraption none the less, I feel like the steering system could be improved, maybe make the front pivot based on foot weight? That way the handle bar would be rigid, and if you lost your grip it wouldn't go all crazy train.

Submitted by OathMeal at 2013-12-18 21:25:45 EST (#)
Rating: 1

I would pimp the shit out of this.

Drop some Hayes hydraulic brakes, a little black pinstriping, some badass Mavic rims and Oury moto grips on this bitch.

Oh and upgrade that faggot seat.

It looks like one of those chairs in those sit-down car racing arcade games.

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-18 21:05:34 EST (#)

Admittedly, if you just look at it, it is pretty damn gay. Especially with the safety f(l)ag on it. Conveniently, though, I am old enough and uncaring enough that those kind of things don't bother me.

Submitted by Shlongy at 2013-12-18 14:02:05 EST (#)
Rating: 2

I could never ride something that gay - or exert the energy - so I give you full props for the effort.

Submitted by Yazned at 2013-12-16 19:35:33 EST (#)
Rating: 2

I really need to get me one of these! A-maaaz-ing!

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-16 17:57:01 EST (#)

Before any of you science nazis busts me, I meant 1.25Hz, not 75Hz. 75 OPM.

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-16 12:33:39 EST (#)

I do indeed have a solar heater for the pool. It takes up a good portion of the south and west exposures of my roof, but it's really only good for about 15F over ambient air temp. Lately that's been in the low 60s, so, still too cool for comfort.

I'll probably adapt some aftermarket bicycle disk brakes to the front wheels and use a couple of those old dual-lever hand setups from the 80s as a footpedal. Scrap the rear brakes altogether. Larger wheels => more torque required for same acceleration, yes, hence the lower gear. It is both four-bar mechanism and chain drive, so there are two ways to add a lower gear: add a derailleur and another sprocket to the axle, or add another pivot location on the push/pull lever. Leaning toward additional sprocket, as that won't change the length of pull of the drive lever. That works out well with the larger wheels too, as I'll have to move the rear axle aft a couple inches to accomodate the parking brake so there'll be more chain between the drive sprocket and driven sprocket(s). Fortunately I have a welder, and I'm not afraid to use it. I will probably just build a new rear axle rather than mod the one that's on there. I'd like to be able to return it to factory spec without a lot of hassle. Thinking of adding a sliding seat frame to get more back and leg into powering it.

I built a beer dispenser with my neighbor for his pool. You press a waterproof button and a beer slides out of his fridge on the second floor, down a tube that looks a lot like rigid dryer vent, and stops by the hot tub. Works only 12 times before you have to reload, though. I don't have one because I like draft/bottles mostly, and no second floor.

Submitted by SilvrWolf at 2013-12-16 11:43:47 EST (#)
Rating: 2

A simple, pedal-activated disc brake (like from a motorcycle or even a bicycle) would be a relatively easy fix for the braking. The steering is another matter, of course. Don't forget (and I'm sure you haven't) that changing drive wheel size changes gear ratio and power requirements. But it's a chain drive, right? I guess it wouldn't be too hard to switch that up.

Also, does Florida not have indoor pools for wintertime swimming? I figured you would've installed some solar heaters or something like that on yours by now.

Also also, I wish I was your neighbor. Oh, the contraptions we could make... and terrorize the neighborhood with. You're not having fun until the cops get called.

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-16 09:53:02 EST (#)

Because the handlebars move if the contraption is moving, I can't go much faster than 15mph without the risk of losing my grip. 15mph is about 75Hz, and the length of handlebar travel is about a meter*. If you lose your grip there's no steering and the handlebar can potentially clock you in the face if you lean too far forward. There's a parking brake but it's marginally effective for stopping. I think this thing needs a redesign. 24" rear wheels and 20" front wheels for higher top speed, foot-operated brakes and steering for safety, and a low gear so I don't get a hernia climbing hills.


*Pick up some 5lb weights. Extend your arms out in front of you, and then retract them to your chest and push them back out to full extension. Now do that full cycle once every 0.8 second for a while. That's about 15mph on level ground in the funmobile.

Submitted by RoadSong at 2013-12-15 02:22:30 EST (#)
Rating: 2

TWELVE miles!!!

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2013-12-14 22:28:21 EST (#)

I rode (rowed) this for 12 miles today AND BOY ARE MY ARMS TIRED! *badum-kshh*


It all happened during the magical summer of 1985. A maturing Joe
Piscopo left `Saturday Night Live' to conquer Hollywood; People
Express introduced a generation of hicks to plane travel; and I was
in a barbershop quartet.

-- Homer Simpson
Homer's Barbershop Quartet