Blog

We mourn the loss of Kathy Urschel, Paralympic Tandem Cyclist

Kathy Urschel, 46, has died of injuries she suffered after falling down a flight of stairs Saturday morning in Burlington, Vermont.  As a blind and deaf athlete, she became the first physically challenged female to compete on a tandem in the 3,050 mile long Race Across America, finishing in 6 days, 21 hours, setting a world record for mixed pairs tandem.  She also competed in the Atlanta and Sydney Paralympics in tandem cycling, winning a silver medal.  Kathy loved life, as demonstrated by her "can-do attitude" in approaching her challenges.  I hope you'll watch Kathy in this video and be inspired to live in an extraordinary way.

Read Kathy's obituary

 

 

Steve Baskis: Blind Tandem Cyclist and now a Himalayan Mountain Climber

Steve Baskis participated in the Soldiers to the Summit 2010 Himalayan Expedition.  They summited Lobuche East at 20,075 feet.  The support team included Erik Weinhenmayer, the only blind person to have summited Mount Everest, and the first blind person to finish the toughest mountain bike race on the planet, the Leadville 100, on a tandem mountain bike.  

Steve loves to go fast on a tandem bike.  Here's Steve (on the right) with his tandem captain, Jamie Alvord, at the 2010 USA Paralympic Cycling National Championships.  Steve is a registered stoker on our website.  Read Steve's story.  Contact him to go for a ride!  

Blind Stoker Club at the CAF Triathlon in San Diego

The Blind Stoker Club of San Diego was well-represented at the Challenged Athletes Foundation Triathlon Challenge on October 24th, 2010.  Twenty club members took part in the weekend's events, with six tandem teams completing the 56 mile route.  They also provided tandem pilots for the out-of-town athletes.

Challenged Athletes Foundation Grants

Grant Applications from the Challenged Athletes Foundation are being accepted.

Click Here for Information

Richard Hunter - Visually Impaired Triathlete - Race Report

On Sunday, July 18th, I completed the Vineman 70.3 Ironman in Sonoma County in 5:10:41, which is a new personal best. This placed me 210 of 1299 men. The Vineman is regarded as “one of the most competitive in the USA Triathlon ranking system,” attracting top professionals and amateurs alike. As a novice to the sport of triathlon, I don’t have much to compare it to, but it was a challenging course for me. Since the race was a 2 ½ hour drive from Folsom, it allowed my guide, Alan Gulledge, and I the opportunity to ride and run on the course prior to race day. It was also great because my family was able to cheer me on, and I was able to get plenty of advice about managing the course from local friends who have raced the course in the past.

 As for the race itself, I found it to be very challenging. Alan and I decided to start the swim side-by-side despite very little practice. Some races require visually impaired athletes to swim in this manner and the solo start made it a safe place to practice something new on race day. I like to swim behind my guide because I can see the white tether, making it possible to stay on course. I cannot consistently see my guide when he is at my side even when I turn my head to breathe. Consequently, I smash into him or swim away from him until I feel the tether tighten. In this case, the water was dirty and it was foggy so I was swimming blind and zigzagging all over the place. I stopped and pulled in behind him where I normally swim. Then, it was no problem to stay on course.

 The bike ride was challenging. It took awhile for my heart rate to come down after the transition. The first 5 miles are flat, so we pushed it hard to make up for the hills to come. I felt like I was pushing myself as hard as I could, keeping an eye on my heart rate at all times. I worked much harder than I normally would on a bike ride. There were numerous rolling hills that were steep enough to slow the tandem to a disadvantage, but we typically could make up ground on the other side. After flying down one hill, I asked Alan how fast we were going, and he said the bike started shaking a little when we hit 45 mph so he stopped looking at the computer, but we continued to accelerate. Woohoo!!!

 The run… it was a tough course. The road slopes severely in some places and it had potholes. In fact, Alan rolled his ankle 3 times. Due to his superb guiding, I only rolled mine once.  In the end, we had a stellar run with a 1:41:27 (7:44 pace)half marathon finish which was faster than our goal pace by a large margin, and we had negative splits (sped up as we went).

 Finally, I’m beyond proud of Alan. He is a strong athlete and has developed a keen sensitivity to the vigilance it takes to be a guide. I don’t think he even realizes how much extra mental and physical effort it takes to call out gear shifts, bumps, turns, overhanging branches, potholes, rough road edges, etc... He trains harder than I do, he is a stronger athlete than I, yet he is apologetic about getting a cramp, concerned that he is slowing me down. No, he isn’t slowing me down. He has allowed me to finish strong at the correct pace and his cramps are likely due to the added exertion of being a great guide.

 What’s next…? After doing the Folsom Olympic Distance Triathlon in August, Alan and I are heading off to Augusta Georgia at the end of September so I can revisit the Augusta 70.3 Ironman course and crush it. My goal is to go under 5 hours (last time Justin Waller and I finished in just under 5:20). From what I understand, that would place me in the company of the top several visually impaired triathletes in North America!

Thank you for your support!

Richard Hunter

Visually Impaired Triathlete

Brian Bushway - Blind Mountain Biker

Brian rides his single bike on the fire roads and singletrack in southern California, using echolocation as his guide.  Brian is a Perceptual Mobility Coach with World Access for the BlindHear Brian’s story.  Then, ride with Brian and his friends in Irvine, CA, in an event on November 6th.

Blind Bicycle Repair

Repairing bicycles isn’t just for the sighted.  Mr. Blackstock, who is blind, runs his bicycle repair business in Napa Valley, California.  I’m thankful for mechanically talented people.  Even with 20/20 eyesight I struggle to make sense of it all!  Ziegler Magazine for the Blind

Tandem Biking and Parkinsons Disease

Parkinson's patients can use this website to find tandem pilots. Research is demonstrating that tandem biking improves motor function for Parkinson's patients. Please visit http://www.pedalingforparkinsons.org for videos and research findings.

Mountain Biking for the Blind - Irvine, CA

Mountain Biking with the Blind! An event sponsored by World Access for the Blind on November 6, in Irvine, CA. Contact Kelly Husted at 323-744-0370 to register.

Vision Midwest Conference

The Vision Midwest Conference will have a Tandem Bike Rally on October 23 in Madison, Wisconsin. Visit their website for more information.