Bicyling from coast to coast across the United States is tough enough when you use your legs. And then there's the story of the man who just completed that feat using only his hands.
That man, Andre Kajlich, was in Tallahassee last Friday (6/30) to visit his pal Bob Harris.
"I met Bob 4 ot 5 years ago," kajlich remembered. "He actually reached out to me after an NBC interview and I think he just loved the enthusiasm and passion that I had for life and we connected."
The TV interview that brought Kajlich to Harris's attention wasn't the young man's first media encounter. Since losing both legs in a 2003 train accident, he's been astounding the world with his accomplishments as an ultra-endurance wheelchair athlete. Last week's visit to Tallahassee came after his latest feat.
"I'd just completed the Race Across America, which is deemed the toughest bicycle race on the planet," Kajlich said. "It's 3,000 miles in 12 days crossing the United States America from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland."
Only 14 out of a starting field of 38 cyclists made it all the way. And Kajlich was the only contender on a handcycle instead of a conventional bike.
"Yeah, it exceeded my expectations in terms of difficulty, but also in terms of substance and experience. It was incredible!"
Kajlich said, other than a bit of understandable numbness in his hands that he expects will go away in a few weeks, he's doing better than fine. And yet, he said getting to this point in his larger life journey has had its rough spots.
"I found myself in a place where, especially after the accident,I was really concerned with my future and what I'd be able to do," he recalled. "My biggest worry was whether or not I'd ever be happy again, whether my life would be fulfilling and I just made up my mind at a certain point that the best chance I could give myself was just to try."
So Kajlich now bases everything he does on the precept, give it your best shot and don't really obsess on the outcome; it'll take care of itself.
"Not worrying so much I think really helped," he acknowledged. "Fully embracing this experience and journey and just take it for what it is and keep battling that got me there."
The result? Andre Kajlich finds himself at the very pinnacle of accomplishment.
"It's even been submitted to Guinness (World Records) as the fastest crossing of the U.S. on a handcycle, and yeah, a world record-holder!"
Perhaps the ultimate proof of the old saying, "You can do it if you try."