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Handi Cap Nord 2018: 6,500 km of cycle routes on a hand bike!

69-years old Patrick Gentilhomme will face a great challenge this summer: cycling 6,500 km from the North Cape in Norway to his home in Haute-Saône, France. And as if this was not enough, he will be using a hand bike, i.e. a bicycle powered by the arms rather than the legs, for the whole trip!

Patrick had always liked doing sports and surpassing himself. He had a 30-years career as a military engineer and enjoyed horse riding, mountain climbing, hiking… But in 2000, his life changed drastically after he fell from a horse. He became tetraplegic and might have never been able to walk again. But with a lot of will power and some luck, he managed to get on his legs again three years later, with the help of crutches.

 

 

Since then, Patrick has never stopped challenging himself. Every few years he starts a new journey, always longer and further than the previous one. This year’s journey is already his third long one on a hand bike and the second one along the EuroVelo routes. In 2011, he rode 900 km from Haute-Saône to Mont Saint-Michel, and he followed the EuroVelo 6 – Atlantic-Black Sea from Nantes to Budapest in 2013, for more than 3000 km.


But with Handi Cap Nord 2018, Patrick is moving to the next level. He left for the North Cape on 16 June, with his wife and a couple of friends. Then on 22 June, the long journey began. From the North Cape they will ride along EuroVelo 7 – Sun Route before joining the EuroVelo 10 – Baltic Sea Cycle Route towards Denmark. Then they will continue on the EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrim’s Route for a short while until they reach the EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Route.

 


Back in France, they will move towards Tain-L’Hermitage, a commune on the left bank of the Rhône River which is their official destination. To reach it, they will follow a short stretch of the EuroVelo 6 and the EuroVelo 17 – Rhone Cycle Route (the ViaRhôna in France). Eventually they will get home partly on the EuroVelo 6, once again, with an arrival time scheduled for the 1st of September. Patrick will thus have the chance to cycle on six different EuroVelo routes during this 70-days journey!


Patrick and his friends have raised funds for this journey, by contacting local businesses and collectivities, and by organizing fundraising actions: a Zumba afternoon, an aqua gym class, a cheese sale, a tombola… All the profits go to finance equipment for the “Handisport” movement, giving disabled people the opportunity to practice the sport they like. Promoting disabled sports is at the heart of the Handi Cap Nord project because Patrick wishes to prove that disabled people can also dream big. As he likes to say, being disabled does not prevent you from living your passions, you just live them less easily… And it certainly does not keep you from cycling on the EuroVelo routes!


To know more and to follow Patrick, Arlette, Marie-Jo and Martial in their adventure, visit the blog and the Facebook page of Handi Cap Nord 2018:
http://www.handicapnord2018.fr/
https://www.facebook.com/HandiCapNord2018-1054075934697706/