More than a
bright red playmobile

“They have a turning circle like a truck.”

The Canadian Lealand Muller talks about the pitfalls of a handbike. The cycling competitions at the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing promise pure excitement

The transition from the wheelchair to the bright red handbike is effortless. Lealand Muller sets himself in motion, makes a few steering movements; thumbs up. For his first training session on the track, the bike course a little north of the MERKUR SPIEL-ARENA has dried at the right time.

There should also be no dangerous situations for the starters in the curves during the competitions on Friday, in the time trial in the morning and later in the criterium. Although, the Canadian thinks that “it’s a bit tricky,” stating at the same time that “these handbikes are very immovable. Sometimes you think that they have a turning circle like a truck.”

He has been riding this special bike for half a year. At the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing he will experience his first competition on Friday, the time trial over about 1.7 kilometres around the car park at the arena


Previously, the ex-soldier from Winnipeg took part in discus throwing in Düsseldorf. During this, he only made invalid throws – and unfortunately lost all four games with the wheelchair basketball team. “This is completely unimportant,” Muller says with a smile, “I nevertheless really enjoy my time here. The experience with other athletes from all over the world, that’s incredible.”

It’s logical that the man with the – as the name suggests – German roots has already exchanged plenty of pins, and you also quickly come into contact with athletes from other countries at the side of the bike course. For Muller it is not the first trip overseas. His father’s family comes from Germany, he has already been to Munich and other parts of Bavaria.

At home in Winnipeg, he usually trains on his bike three times a week, sometimes for one hour, sometimes for two, depending on his mood – and the weather. Then, of course, he goes out into the countryside. “With a handbike,” the Canadian explains, “it’s difficult and quite dangerous in the city because drivers tend to overlook you. In addition, the bike is not very manoeuvrable.

And it’s not so easy to transport the bike, it’s a bit bulky, just as the whole logistics of travelling from overseas are naturally a bit complicated. Six participants from Canada are taking part in the cycling competitions. Several wheelchairs had to be stowed on the Air Canada plane from the capital Ottawa, where the 31-strong Canadian team met, to Frankfurt. And, of course, other equipment such as the boxes with the archery bows or tools for the wheels and wheelchairs. From Frankfurt, three buses took them to the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia. The way back begins on Sunday.

Before that, Lealand Muller wants to achieve a good result in time trial and perform more successful than previously at the Invictus Games. The former mechanic does not want to fail due to the material, he likes to use his own hands. For years, he was responsible for everything about chains in the Canadian military: “from chain saws to tanks”, as Lealand explains. Thus, a compact handbike is not too much of a challenge for him.

Written by: Oliver Bitter