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A Paradise on Pedals posted on 05/02/2017

The Mt. Hood Bicycle/Pedestrian Coalition (MHBPC) is rolling down the road in its collaboration with the Oral Hull Foundation for the Blind to develop a tandem cycling program to introduce blind and low vision participants to the art and skill of cycling.

The goal is to launch a full-scale training program at Oral Hull Park in Sandy by the summer of 2018.

The vision is limitless for the farsighted program.

“We are looking for cyclists who may be interested in becoming a tandem captain,” said George Wilson, director of the MHBPC. “Plans are to develop a beginner and intermediate cycling program to include fully supported single-day and multi-day rides.”Wilson also noted that riders wishing to pedal beyond these programmed rides, that the coalition and the foundation are working with the Oregon Bike Racing Association to sanction a racing series for participants at the Portland International Raceway next year.

But the program tour doesn’t end there. Work is already underway with the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) which already has an established tandem cycling program.

On April 18, the WSSB launched its first pedaling bonanza, according to lead captain Steve Rosvold. He was joined by local Mountain resident and captain Terre Tomey, who buzzed through the nine-mile course for the first time.

It should be noted that Wilson was unable to participate due to having “tweaked my back.” He promises to make a comeback.

Regarding the WSSB ride, “Fifteen seasoned stokers and eight (mostly rookie) WSSB captains, safely pedaled to Winter Park in Vancouver,” Rosvold said. “We got to know one another and climbed through the historic reserve on our return trip.”

Rosvold pointed out that almost all of the stokers were stricken with “half ride syndrome” – an affliction that occurs when there aren’t enough captains to pilot the full stockade of stokers.

While the WSSB is focusing on shorter distance excursions, the local coalition-Hull group is looking forward to next year’s goal of developing a program to introduce blind and low vision stokers to the art and skills of advanced cycling techniques.

“Participants of our program will be introduced to longer single-day rides, as well as multi-day rides that include overnight camping and lodging,” Wilson said. “Participants will be introduced to basic and advanced riding techniques, basic bicycle maintenance, and endurance racing.”

As a cycling bonus, Wilson noted that the coalition-Hull program is connecting with the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) to offer riders to test their advanced skills in sanctioned tandem racing series during the OBRA weekly racing series at Portland International Raceway.

“We hope to encourage participants from across the United States, as well as riders from abroad,” Wilson said.

Currently there are more male and female stokers than tandem captains, both with the WSSB program and the Oral Hull program. Experienced cyclists should contact George Wilson through the Mt. Hood Bicycle/Pedestrian Coalition at mthoodbicycle.com, or phone at 503-622-0672.

New members may have the opportunity to watch Wilson return to action following his rehab session.

By Larry Berteau/MT

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