Heyl: Broken handcycle sets back paralyzed cyclist in world record hunt |

Heyl: Broken handcycle sets back paralyzed cyclist in world record hunt

Attila Domos on his handcycle before it broke.

One moment, Attila Domos was cruising effortlessly through the streets of Squirrel Hill on his handcycle.

The next moment, the paraplegic musician found himself on the ground, his mode of transportation ruined.

“My bike just collapsed from underneath me,” Domos, 48, said of last weekend’s mishap. “I climbed out of the chair to see what was wrong, and I saw this massive crack in the frame. I’m just sitting on the street there going, ‘Oh, man.’ ”

A good Samaritan and passing pulmonologist, Dr. Peter Kochupura of UPMC Passavant, helped solve Domos’ immediate problem by getting him and his broken bike home. A more long-term issue remains: Though he’s looking into getting the frame welded, that would be a temporary solution.

He needs a new handcycle — and soon.

Cycling gradually became one of Domos’ passions after he was paralyzed in a 1993 fall, and he’s good at it. He’s finished first in The Great Race handcycling event the past two years, won the Pittsburgh Marathon handcycling event in 2010 and finished second this year.

Domos believes the considerable wear and tear he put on the bike since the Challenged Athlete Foundation provided him with it eight years ago contributed to its catastrophic frame failure. Because the price of handcycles has risen considerably since 2008, Domos decided against approaching the foundation about giving him a replacement.

Instead, he’s attempting to raise the $9,000 for one via a page (

“Today’s bikes are aerodynamically superior, more lightweight and have electronic shift gears,” he said. “My bike was good for its time; it was like a Corvette. They always look good until you put them on a racetrack against Ferraris.”

Domos, an accomplished musician as well as a competitive cyclist, hopes he can quickly obtain a new bike. He has a grueling charitable event set for late August.

To benefit the Challenged Athlete Foundation and the Pittsburgh Steelwheelers wheelchair basketball team, Domos will try to handcycle 350 miles or more in 24 hours at Bud Harris Cycling Track in Highland Park. The event will coincide with the release of the former Duquesne University music student’s new CD, “Never Enough.”

“That’ll be the release party, my trial run for when I get to Florida someday and try to set the (24-hour) world record,” he said. “If I can do 350 miles at Bud Harris, with its hills and turns, I figure I can do more than 403.8 miles on a flat surface in Florida.”

When I noted he seems more active than many people with full use of their limbs, Domos said, “I guess I’m just very goal-oriented, very driven.”

But this is one instance in which Domos doesn’t want to be driven.

He would much prefer to ride a new bike.

Eric Heyl is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857.

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