Stumps and Cranks: An Introduction to Amputee Cycling by  Sonia Sanghani

Stumps and Cranks: An Introduction to Amputee Cycling by Sonia Sanghani

STUMPS & CRANKS is a great resource for amputees considering cycling. This book is jammed with practical details, and encouraging stories on how an amputee can get started in this sport.

The author explains that she led a boring life as a non-cycling amputee for many years. Then, she began cycling, and wanted to see how other amputees fared. She investigated amputee cyclists from around the world to see how they were able to participate in the sport, despite their disabilities. There are mini-biographies and tips from cyclists from all over the world.

Different cyclists use different types of bikes. Some use a "kneeling handcycle or a recumbent hand cycle. There are bikes shown that I never even knew existed. There is special equipment that amputees can adapt for cycling.

Scattered throughout STUMPS & CRANKS are brief "From the Amputees" sections that allow amputees to explain how they cycle, and the type of equipment they use. I thought these sections were perhaps the most useful part of the book, because they explain how others have managed to succeed in this sport. For example, one cyclist from Croatia, Mirsad Tokic, suggests a BMX-style pedal for leg amputees.

One encouraging example comes from Jon Pini from the U.K. Jon relates his experiences in falling after he hit a tree stump: "I went over the handlebars, but I was lucky enough to land in bracken and heather. My arm was still on..." Jon explains the system he uses to attach his prosthetic arm, and also relates his experience on building confidence in cycling: "As you get used to cycling, confidence levels increase, and you develop a rhythm."

One funny story from a cyclist in Switzerland preparing for training relates how his prosthetic leg felt funny, and hurt a bit. "I removed the sleeve and that leg--and discovered a dead mouse inside!" (Moral of the story--always check for dead mice in your leg.)


Besides biographies of many amputee cyclists, the author explains equipment options and basic bike maintenance. Other chapters cover nutrition, and choosing safe bike routes. The author provides training plans to help the new cyclist get started. There are two chapters on Cycling Basics. Part I covers things like transporting your bike, moving the bike onto a trailer, and how to put on a helmet. Part II covers topics such as "Looking Behind," signaling, and even "Falling off."

The last chapter is entitled, "Expert Stuff." Sonia explains the different type of competitions that one can enter, or even how to become a cycling instructor.

Finally, the book concludes with stories from champion amputee cyclists. Sara Tretola from Switzerland explains how she "dreamed of taking part in the Paralympics in Athens." She had one chance to qualify, and it meant a long drive to the trials in Germany. At the race, "The start gate opened, and I pedaled as hard as I possibly could...I cycled round and round to the point of exhaustion.... I gave my best. I was chosen for the Paralympics in 2004 in Athens."

STUMPS & CRANKS is one encouraging book! This book is full of practical encouraging ideas from amputee cyclists all over the world. This is a great book showing how amputees can participate in the great sport of cycling.

Advance Review Copy courtesy of the author.

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