[Nfbc-info] Cycling 4 Sight ended yesterday, and I missed it!

Fred's Win7 Catastrophe regenerative at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 16 01:46:57 UTC 2013

Hey NFBCal buddies!
I did not ride in this years Cycling for Sight double-century 
weekend.  I feel like such a slacker, but  my main tandem (worth 
about $6,000-new) got stolen.  My captain  and I 
were  averaging  200-miles a week, and  holding speeds above 40-mph 
on the flats.  Our best  day was the last time I  had it.  It was 
stolen that night.)  That disrupted my workout schedule, for sure.  I 
didnt get back into a biking workout routine until only 5 to 6 weeks 
ago, and I didnt feel fit  and strong enough to do a 
Century.  Anyhow, Cycling for Sight ended yesterday!  Ill include a 
newspaper article below.

I am so fired-up to ride it next Summer!  Who wants to join me?  We 
can start training now.  Let's all ride it next year!
Stoker Fred, Carlsbad -  VP Beach Cities Chapter NFBCal


   Tandem club teams blind, sighted cyclists

Deep bonds formed between San Diego athletes both with vision and without

  By Pam Kragen(/staff/pam-kragen/)3:24 p.m.July 9, 2013
Tandem bike-riding teams ride with the Blind Stokers Club Saturday. 
photo by Bill Wechter(/photos/2013/jul/09/1056705/)Tandem bike-riding 
teams ride with the Blind Stokers Club Saturday. photo by Bill Wechter

SAN DIEGO Carol Corcoran admits shes a speed demon. The 55-year-old 
Solana Beach resident said its both thrilling and miraculous that she 
can bicycle along San Diegos coast at a blazing clip of 40 to 50 
miles an hour. The miracle part is that Corcoran is blind.

The former waitress, who lost her sight to a genetic disorder, is a 
member of the Blind Stokers Club, a tandem bicycling group that pairs 
sighted captains with blind stokers (the name for a rear tandem 
cyclist) for challenging long-distance rides around the county. On 
Friday, July 12, club members will embark on the Cycling for Sight 
tour, a three-day, 185-mile ride to Irvine and back that benefits 
charities for the blind.

Founded in 2007, the Blind Stokers is the largest and most active 
tandem club for blind riders in the country, according to Christine 
Tinberg, founder of the U.S. Blind Tandem Cycling Connection. Blind 
Stokers has more than 100 active members and 30 permanent cycling 
teams who gather for 22 rides each year of 25 to 60 miles, as well as 
social events such as a picnic on the evening of July 10 in Solana Beach.

Our mission is to bring together two strangers to form a mutually 
beneficial team that grows into a wonderful friendship, said Blind 
Stokers founder and president Dave White, a defense systems engineer 
from Rancho Penasquitos. White isnt blind and neither is his wife, 
Nancy, but theyre longtime tandem enthusiasts who have logged more 
than 27,000 on their own tandem bike. He hit upon the idea for the 
club eight years ago when he heard about Cycling for Sight and 
discovered that only sighted cyclists were participating in the 
annual event at the time.

Tinberg said she she receives emails and phone calls from people all 
across the country who want to start blind tandem cycling clubs, but 
so far no groups have been able to launch with any success like the 
Blind Stokers Club.

"It is hard, time-consuming work. Then, to grow and keep going, it 
takes a large team of committed sighted and blind people, so, the 
Blind Stokers Club is to be commended," Tinberg said.


Corcoran was an active runner before angioid streaks destroyed her 
vision last summer. A recent transplant from New York, she couldnt 
see or work and had very few friends here. Then she heard about the 
group last fall while visiting the San Diego Center for the Blind. 
White put her on the back of his tandem and tested out her skills and 
fitness, then paired her with sighted captain Sabine Rentschar of 
Carlsbad. The clubs only all-female team has ridden more than 1,000 
miles together since November.

Rentschar, a German-born optical technician, was recovering from a 
road bike crash when White asked her to captain last year. She 
hesitated, at first, about putting someone elses life in her hands, 
but said the experience has renewed her confidence in herself and the 
cycling partnership has blossomed into a close friendship.

Corcoran said she trusts Rentschar with her life, but she admits her 
biggest challenge was giving up her independence, putting her faith 
in her captain and just letting go.

Taking on the tandem

Tandem cycling isnt for everyone. The two-seaters are more difficult 
to maneuver, weigh up to twice as much as a regular bike, and start 
at $5,000. Some captains own their own tandems. Other bikes have come 
through grants from the Center for the Blind or donations from 
service groups like the Del Sol Lions (Del Sol member Paul McEneany 
of Rancho Santa Fe is so impressed with the group, he is now in 
training as a tandem captain).

The club has no corporate sponsor right now (though it's looking for 
one), so most of the members are funding their own efforts. White 
relies on volunteers to coordinate carpools, act as drivers and ride 
along as team support.

White said club members are athletic and outgoing, with a positive 
attitude. Some ride for pleasure, others have competitive goals. Most 
are high achievers, including lawyers, military officers and a Ph.D. 
One of the clubs newest stokers is a retired army veteran who lost 
his sight 20 years ago in the Gulf War.

A good captain has confidence, leadership qualities and street 
smarts, White said, and a good stoker has strength, focus, trust and 
team spirit. The best teams which White carefully matches in skill, 
body size, personality, goals and geographic location bond both on 
the bike and off.

A good fit

The clubs most athletic team is captain Kurt Junge, a competitive 
athlete from Cardiff, and stoker Andy Granda, an aspiring triathlete 
from La Jolla, who have biked 1,850 miles together over the past 
year. Granda, 37, was born deaf and has gradually lost most of his 
vision to Usher syndrome.

Junge learned sign language to speak with Granda, and on the bike 
they communicate on when to brake, turn, stop and signal with a 
system of hand taps and finger spelling that Junge calls dancing in 
the dark. Theyre now training together several times a week for an 
Iron Man event next May. Junge said the experience of getting to know 
Granda has been life-changing for him.

I wanted to find a sport where I could use my skill set, but this has 
given me a purpose in life, he said. It answers the question for me, 
what did I do for the world today?

Granda said he had to give up surfing and paddleboarding seven years 
ago as his vision dimmed, so the Blind Stokers Club has filled a big 
void in his life.

Im very lucky to have met Kurt and I feel like Ive got freedom again. 
Its something I never would have expected, he said.

Cycling therapy

The clubs most experienced stoker is Peter Dawson, 54, who was 
blinded in a motorcycle crash at age 18. The Seattle native had been 
a multisport athlete with several athletic scholarships offers before 
the accident, so as soon as he could ride again, his family bought a 
tandem. Today, he works for the states Department of Rehabilitation 
helping recently disabled adults get back to work with programs like 
the Blind Stokers Club.

One such client is David Kuttnauer, a 48-year-old stoker from San 
Diego, who said being in the club helped him fight the frustration 
and sense of worthlessness that he felt after he lost his sight in 2009.

I was at the San Diego Center for the Blind bitching about not being 
able to do things anymore and I heard about this group, said 
Kuttnauer, who worked as a labor consultant before being blinded by 
glaucoma and surgery. The speed and the challenge of the rides was 
really exciting for me and Ive developed some really good friendships.

pam.kragen at utsandiego.com (760) 529-4906

Copyright 2013 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. An MLIM LLC Company. 
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