Be a TRAILBLAZER: Tandem riding club needs volunteer captains
Guest dandyBLOG by Tim Woods
Photos courtesy of TRAILBLAZERS
I bet you like to ride your bike – a lot. You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. I love to ride mine, in fact, if I had my way, that is pretty much all I would ever do. Now, try to imagine what would your cycling life be like if you couldn’t see. Imagine if you lost your sight, or were losing your sight, or you never had it in the first place; it doesn’t take a very fertile imagination to conclude that this is a cyclist’s nightmare.
Strange as it may seem though, I know a lot of people who have never seen the light of day, a blue sky, or a flower in bloom, and these people love to ride bikes. It’s true, they do, and some of them are very good at it too. Now you’re likely asking yourselves, how would such a sightless person facilitate this rather sight centric activity? Hey, it’s a reasonable question, with a simple and sensible answer: TRAILBLAZERS.
TRAILBLAZERS is a cycling club that allows legally blind people to ride bicycles. We ride tandems, and it’s not terribly surprising that the stoker is the visually impaired rider. (We tried it the other way around and it did not work well). The club has 20 or so tandem bikes and we do so love to ride them. The ‘problem’ is, we have more than 20 members, but I’m not asking you to give us your tandem bike; what we really need is you!
We require skilled cyclists, who love to ride, love meeting interesting and fun people, that have a few hours a month (or week) to spare to help our great members stay happy and healthy. We need captains. As long as you can ride with some reasonable proficiency we have a spot for you. (You do have to be over 16 years old.)
The club has lots of group rides throughout the cycling season; some are in Toronto, some are out of town, some are for an hour, others are for several hours. We also have members who want to ride a lot more frequently than on the group rides. They need captains that can meet them at one of our bicycle sheds (placed strategically through out the city) and ride from there, at times that are convenient to both captain and stoker.
This is my second year with TRAILBLAZERS but I assure you it won’t be my last. I have had so much fun with this club I forget I am volunteering. (Come on! I mean, you get to ride a bike and add to someone else’s happiness!) I ride at least a few times a month during the season and have a few guys I ride with during the so-called off-season. (Except, there is no off-season for me!)
I usually share the tandem with the same guy on all the group rides. He is a very nice middle-aged, father of two, who is both blind and deaf .(And, why yes; that does pose some extra challenges! We communicate through BBM’s, and his has the largest font ever.) Our first ride together got me hooked on TRAILBLAZERS. We had been out for maybe 15 minutes, he is a strong rider and we were moving along at a fairly good clip, I heard him start laughing out loud on the back. Changed my life. Change yours. Help someone else change theirs. Be a captain with TRAILBLAZERS. Do it. Do it this year.