The Elliptical Cycling World Championship is coming up in just a couple of weeks. This event is host to so many inspiring athletes with unique stories. This year, we are excited to welcome Dan Kosick as a competitor. He will be the first adaptive athlete to race up Palomar. You may recognize Dan – he was a recipient of a grant for an ElliptiGO bike given by the Challenged Athletes Foundation earlier this year. Dan announced that he’ll be coming to San Diego to compete in this awesome video below. Our team caught up with Dan as he makes his final preparations for the race. Check out the interview below!
Dan, you received the CAF grant for your ElliptiGO bike earlier this year. Since receiving your bike, how has your training for all of the sports you participate in changed? How often are you riding and for how long/how far?
In the past, I would run 2-3 days per week. As a 44-year-old above the knee amputee, this has been more and more of a struggle to maintain. My lower back and hips have really taken a beating over the past 10 years with the amount of running that I have been doing. Since receiving the ElliptiGO, I am riding (GOing) 2-3 days per week and running 1-2 days per week. Currently, I ride about 50-60 miles per week with an emphasis on hills. My rides will typically have 2500′-3500′ of elevation gain per ride. I am definitely riding more days per week than running and my body is loving it!
I know you had been looking at ElliptiGO bikes for quite some time before receiving the grant. Was it everything you expected? More? Tell me if the experience matched your expectations, plus any challenges/wins that have come up along the way.
About 8-10 years ago, I came across some info for ElliptiGO. I knew I could use most elliptical machines at the gym but there definitely were differences in the gym elliptical machines that would make it either easier/smoother with my prosthetic leg compared to others. I really had no idea if I would be able to use an ElliptiGO bike, how comfortable I would be on it with my prosthetic or if I would need a specialized prosthesis just to use it. With all the uncertainty, I could not commit to purchasing an ElliptiGO bike. Since receiving my ElliptiGO bike, my expectations have been beyond exceeded!
My biggest challenge/difficulty was taking that first ride and committing to the ride because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep my balance and/or generate enough power to keep going. I knew I would have to commit and brace myself for the worse but within seconds of mounting and starting my first ride I knew I had it and I would be fine. Since then, I have had several spills/falls on my ElliptiGO bike but nothing serious. One of my first falls even resulted in my prosthetic falling off. I now wear a belt for my leg to make sure this never happens again. It was comical and embarrassing, to say the least. As with any sport I have ever done, I know a fall just makes me want to get up and try harder and also means I’m pushing limits. I have an impossible goal of living a life without limitations. When I have fallen, it is usually because I’m going slow and trying to balance too long and end up tipping to my prosthetic side. With my prosthetic foot strapped into the foot mount, I have no choice but to commit to the fall. Oh, and then there was the one fall I had when I tried to make a hard turn in the rain over a wet manhole cover which was super slick under my front tire. Lessons I have learned and will be a better rider because of them.
My biggest gains have come from working on riding up elevation. With each ride, I try to become more efficient on how I use my prosthetic. I can’t generate a lot of power with my prosthetic side so I try to find ways not to lose all the power I generate from my sound side since I know that’s all I got to keep moving up a climb. It’s still a work in progress.
Tell me more about the ride that helped you qualify for the World Championship!
I recently found out that a ride of 50 miles under 4 hours would qualify you to participate in the ElliptiGO World Championships. I felt confident that I could eventually make the qualification but I had not yet ridden for more than 40 miles in a single ride so I wasn’t sure what my starting point was and how much work I needed to do to qualify. I decided one Saturday morning that I was going to do a 50-mile ride because I had a little extra time. I figured it would give me a good idea of how hard I would need to push to make the qualification and then I would make a better plan to do an “official” qualification ride on another day. This wasn’t my strongest ride, I was having some minor prosthetic issues with chafing but I realized that at the pace I was going I could potentially qualify if I maintained my efforts for the entire 50 miles. I have to say, I felt stronger on the 2nd 25 miles compared to the first and eventually completed my first 50-mile ride in 3 hrs 37 mins with approx 1500′ of elevation gain. Using my Strava results from this ride, I applied to compete in the ElliptiGO World Championships and it was accepted/confirmed!.
How are you preparing for the climb up Palomar? Are you excited to be headed to the home of ElliptiGO HQ for the whole experience?
Since my qualifying ride, I have spent most of my rides seeking out “big” hills in my upstate NY area to train for Palomar. I have a specific hill called Robinson Hill Rd about 4 miles from my house that is 1 mile long with an average grade of 8.3%. I will go over to that hill and just go up and down it several times to help prepare for the grade of Palomar. I am so stoked to be going to San Diego and ElliptiGO HQ. ElliptiGO created a product that could potentially be a huge benefit to so many amputees, especially above knee amputees who can struggle greatly with activities because they often need specialized knees. My hope is to take in as much as I can from HQ and other GOers at the event and be able to spread this awesome news to other amputees so they don’t wait years to find out about it or completely miss out on a game changer for physical activity.
How does it feel to be breaking barriers as the first adaptive athlete to participate in our competition?
To be honest, I only think of myself as an athlete (not so much focus on the “adaptive” part) and choose to do things that I feel are challenging no matter how many legs, toes, arms, etc… someone may have. I know that I have limitations but we all do and they really only get into the way when they become the focus and not our abilities. I’m not that young anymore, but I am way too young to stop pushing my limits. As any aging athlete needs to recognize it is imperative to train smart if you want to prolong your abilities. The ElliptiGO provides me with ways to train smart and find new challenges like the ElliptiGO World Championships. If I happen to be the first amputee to do it, great but that is never the focus. I let myself determine my own limits and abilities, not what others have accomplished or not. If my accomplishments happen to inspire and/or influence others, specifically amputees, then I take that as a great honor and find more motivation in knowing I have that influence on others. I often tell others that I’m usually not fast, never was even with two legs but I’ll never quit. My mentality has earned me the nickname “Danimal”. It started back when I was on the alpine ski team and sort of just stuck even as the “older” athlete that I am today.
Feeling inspired yet? Dan’s story is one of overcoming obstacles, and we’re proud to be a part of his journey. We’ll hope you’ll join us in rooting for Dan and all of our World Champs competitors on Saturday, October 23rd. GO get ‘em Dan!