USABA Hosting "Learn to Race" Cycling Camp for Athletes with Physical & Visual Disabilities

Sept. 17, 2009, 8:20 a.m. (ET)

The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), is hosting a Developmental Cycling Camp for Riders with Disabilities, Sept. 12-19, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Partnering organizations include U.S. Paralympics, U.S. Hand Cycling and Disabled Sports USA.

Cyclists with physical disabilities and sensory impairments will learn advanced bike handling skills and road racing strategies.  Instruction in track riding will also be provided to the 22 participating athletes including blind and visually impaired cyclists and their sighted pilots who ride tandem bikes; cyclists with lower mobility impairments who use hand cycles; cyclists with cerebral palsy or head injury who use both standard bikes and amputee cyclists who ride either single bikes or hand cycles. Veterans and active duty service members who sustained physical and sensory disabilities as a result of service in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom are participating in the camp including SPC Steven Baskis (Forest Park, IL), U.S. Army active duty who sustained shrapnel injuries to his eyes, upper and lower extremities in an IED attack in Iraq.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for cyclists who want to increase their riding knowledge and experience. We will also identify athletes who will go on and compete for the United States in future regional and national events, and for some, the Paralympic Games," said Mark Lucas, Executive Director of the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. 

Camp staff will include certified cycling coaches, a certified mechanic and guest speakers from a variety of sports-related fields. Several current Paralympic cyclists may join a ride or speak with attendees to share their experiences.

Riders attending camp will be on their bikes twice per day participating in skill drills, practicing safe riding techniques and competing in race simulations.

"We will help network interested riders into their local riding and racing communities as much as possible and provide a schedule of future race opportunities," said Pam Fernandes, camp coordinator and retired Paralympic medalist.

Whatever the outcome for each rider, the goal of the camp is to foster a passion for riding and staying physically fit. After completing camp, some participants will choose to become recreational riders while others will strive to become Paralympic champions. No matter which road athletes choose, the camp opens new opportunities for sports and recreation to people with physical disabilities. In the past, some camp attendees have gone on to become Paralympic and World Champions, setting national, World and Paralympic records.