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Mpls. Mechanic Fixes Woman’s Handcycle Just In Time For TC 10K

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A woman from Spain was invited by Medtronic to wheel in the Twin Cities Marathon 10K race Saturday. But when Anna Gilabert arrived in Minneapolis, she discovered her German hand-cycle was broken on the flight.

But, thanks to a Minneapolis bike mechanic, a special part from scratch got Anna back in the race.

Gilabert cannot use her legs due to a spinal cord injury, but she loves to wheel. She has a Medtronic pump that helps with her medication, so she was happy to be invited to the Marathon.

“I thought that I would have a good time with my colleagues and with the Medtronic people,” said Gilabert.

When Gilabert’s cycle came off the airplane, one of the hand cranks was completely broken. After hours of trying to find a part, or someone to help, a limo delivered the broken hand cycle to Freewheel Bike in Minneapolis.

“We get a lot of older bikes like this that need just a little sprucing up,” said mechanic Karl Stoerzinger.

Stoerzinger had 36 hours to find a solution from Thurday evening to Saturday morning. Welding the aluminum crank was not an option, because the part is under a lot of stress.

“A woman from the airline had contacted the manufacturer in Germany through I’m not sure how many hours of time zones change and had a 100 percent language barrier and got nowhere there,” said

Stoerzinger got a block of aluminum and went to the hack factory, a community shop with many machine tools. He made an adapter to join part of a new crank to part of Anna’s existing crank.

“I got it done in the nick of time and was able to hand deliver it and install the new part on the bike in the lobby at the hotel in downtown St. Paul. Anna rode it around the lobby a couple of times and we adjusted the shifting & fixed the bent Derailleur Hanger and made a couple of other modifications.”

Stoerzinger did most of this work on Friday, which is his normal day off. He doesn’t yet know who will pay for his time, but says he isn’t worried about it.

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